Cissy Houston & Elvis Had History Together, But Cissy Tells Why She Walked Away

Posted On : May 5, 2017

Whitney Houston may have been the most highly publicized name in the Houston family, but the family’s musical background goes far beyond Whitney’s rise to fame. For those who don’t know, it all started with Cissy Houston. Long before she became the Houston family matriarch, the Newark, New Jersey native had a singing career of her own and she’d managed to make quite a name for herself in her younger years.

Cissy and Whitney Houston
Cissy and Whitney Houston

Back in the day Cissy and her siblings Anne, Larry, and Nicky formed the gospel group, The Drinkard Four.  The group found success singing regularly at New Hope Baptist Church and later went on to do a live recording with RCA Records after adding Cissy’s cousins Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick to the group.

The Sweet Inspirations; Cissy seated on far left
The Sweet Inspirations; Cissy seated on far left

After taking up the stage name Cecily Blair, Cissy went on to record her first solo project, “This Is My Vow” on M’n’M Records in 1963. She recorded  “Don’t Come Running To Me” with “One Broken Heart For Sale” before forming The Sweet Inspirations. The group consisted of Cissy, Doria Troy, and Dionne Warwick’s sister, Dee Dee Warwick. As backup singers, the ladies worked with legendary musicians, singers, songwriters and performers like Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix. But that’s not all.

Cissy’s Initial Reservations About Elvis Presley & His Music

Elvis Presley and his then background singer, Cissy Houston
Elvis Presley and his then background singer, Cissy Houston

During an interview with NVLP a few years ago, Cissy admitted why she wasn’t exactly excited about singing backup for one of rock-n-roll’s biggest legends. In fact, she made it clear she wasn’t a fan of his music. Since Cissy had a great deal of respect for her gospel roots, singing for Elvis Presley wasn’t exactly the honor most fans would expect. However, things changed once she met Elvis in Las Vegas, NV. She realized he was more than just a stereotypical rock-n-roller, but a real musician.

“I wasn’t a fan of his,” she said flatly. “I just couldn’t imagine what we’d be singing behind Elvis Presley.”

Elvis Proved Cissy Wrong

Elvis
Elvis

But despite her reservations, they took the job. Surprisingly, Cissy also developed a relatively close relationship with Elvis Presley despite her sentiments of his music. The music icon even gave Cissy a nickname. “When we met him, he was marvelous,” she said. “He could sing, and he did sing beautiful songs.”

Their Platonic Relationship

Although Cissy and Elvis forged a bond, the relationship went no further than music. Cissy adamantly insisted their working relationship never evolved into anything more. To her surprise, he was also a fan of gospel. So there were times they’d sing gospel together after rehearsals were over.  During the five weeks they worked with him, he was the epitome of a gentlemen and he treated her with respect.

Here’s Why Cissy Walked Away From Elvis & Her Group Members

Her family needed her. While Cissy admitted she enjoyed most of her time singing backup for Elvis, along with her fellow Sweet Inspirations ‘sisters,’ she revealed there came a time when the job was a bit overwhelming. She ultimately decided to leave the group to focus on raising her children. She continued to record throughout the 70s but eventually began molding another star in the making. Cissy’s decision not to further pursue her music career led to the birth of a special gift to the world of music – the evolution of her daughter, Whitney Houston. Needless to say, Cissy’s role in Whitney’s life, musicianship, and upbringing helped to mold her into the iconic star she became. Thank you, Cissy Houston, for your vast contributions to music!

Join us on Facebook for the most engaging discussions from the Old School! Old School News With A New Point Of View!

Trending Today