Whitney Houston’s 1997 ‘Cinderella’ Her ‘Favorite Project’ and Biggest ‘Heartbreak of Her Career’, Movie’s Producer Says

The late Whitney Houston’s career is filled with impressive moments. One of the most awarded recording artists ever, she became a legendary singer and performer. But one project, in particular, stood out to her: the 1997 version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Whitney Houston produced and starred in ‘Cinderella’

Whitney Houston speaks onstage at the Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards
Whitney Houston at the Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards | Scott Gries/ImageDirect

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Initially, Disney wanted Houston to play the lead role of Cinderella. She turned it down because, as she said later, she didn’t feel like it was the right fit for her. 

The Grammy winner stayed involved in an off-camera capacity as a producer but it’s because of Brandy Norwood, the singer and actor cast as Cinderella, Houston appeared on screen. 

Norwood, who starred on the sitcom Moesha at the time, only agreed to play Cinderella if her idol, Houston, played the role of Cinderella’s fairy godmother. 

There’s a ‘Cinderella’ soundtrack

A movie musical, Cinderella featured classic songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein and a few of the duo’s lesser-known tracks. One of the most popular being Norwood and Houston’s performance of “Impossible/It’s Possible.”

Ultimately, the movie added three songs to Cinderella. Unlike the original, the stepmother (Bernadette Peters) got her own solo with “Falling in Love With Love.” 

The cast showcased their vocal talents and seeing as Norwood and Houston were popular singers at the time of the movie’s release it only made sense that there’d be a Cinderella soundtrack. It turns out there’s is a soundtrack but it’s never been released. 

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The soundtrack not getting released devastated Whitney Houston

Marking the 20-year anniversary of Cinderella, producers and multiple cast members spoke with Shondaland to provide an oral history. They discussed the never-released soundtrack, sharing how sad and disappointed Houston was with the outcome. 

Whitney knew how important it was to everyone, and to her, especially,” Craig Zadan, one of the producers of Cinderella, said. “She was so proud of it.” 

Whitney Houston, Brandy Norwood, and Bobby Brown at the premiere of 'Cinderella' in 1997
Whitney Houston, Brandy Norwood, and Bobby Brown at the premiere of Cinderella in 1997 | Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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Houston died in 2012 without the music from Cinderella ever being released. According to Zadan, it was a favorite project of hers but also one that caused her grief because of the soundtrack. 

“About a year before Whitney passed, I visited her in Atlanta,” he added. “She confided in me that her favorite project in her career was Cinderella and that the heartbreak of her career was Cinderella. It didn’t make sense to her that there was no album, she just couldn’t understand.”

The reason why the soundtrack never came to be is because of a record label dispute. According to the interviews, Houston’s label wanted to release a soundtrack and Norwood’s didn’t. They never came to an agreement on terms and the soundtrack’s never been released.

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