Local Whitney Houston protégé reflects on her impact

Local Whitney Houston protégé reflects on her impact


by NewsChannel 36 Staff


Posted on February 16, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 16 at 6:41 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Nearly a dozen celebrities are preparing for Saturday's private funeral for Whitney Houston.

Kevin Costner, who starred with Houston in "The Bodyguard" will speak, and Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin will sing.

As those preparations continue, a woman right here in Charlotte is mourning a superstar who gave her a helping hand.

Local singer and bartender Shanna Wylie called Houston a mentor.

Wylie is one of the lucky few who got to know the real Whitney Houston.

The song “I'll Always Love You” made Houston an icon.  Wylie won a talent contest by singing it, and then she met Bobby Brown, who introduced her to his wife.

"She wanted me to be fearless.  She wanted me to embrace my gift," Wylie said.

Shanna was just 13 years old when Whitney took her under her wing.  She signed Wylie to Houston’s record company and began to groom her.

"She touched me at such a critical early stage in my life," Wylie added.

That hard work paid off when Shanna got to sing on the hit soundtrack to the movie “Waiting to Exhale.”

Shanna made a name for herself with “How Could You Call Her Baby.”

This week has been very difficult for the Charlotte bartender.  A lot of people are speculating that Houston's drug history may be responsible for her death.

"I just think that's dirt and it's not to be dug up.  She is to be honored," Wylie said.

Wylie's close relationship with Houston ended when she signed with another label.

She's not a star, but she has not given up hope.  She says Whitney's life will motivate her and she hopes others.

"We have to be thankful for all the times she chose to do the right thing and to grace up with her presence, her voice and her love."

Houston's funeral service is private and invitation only.  It will, however, be streamed on the web.