Relive Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross and Dionne Warwick's spellbinding 1987 performance

11 December 2020, 15:56

Relive Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross and Dionne Warwick's spellbinding 1987 performance
Relive Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross and Dionne Warwick's spellbinding 1987 performance. Picture: YouTube

By Sian Moore

The four legendary musicians wrapped their arms around each other as they performed a breathtaking rendition of 'That's What Friends Are For' at the Soul Train Music Awards in the late '80s.

It was on March 23, 1987, when Luther Vandross and Dionne Warwick hosted the Soul Train Music Awards at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.

The ceremony celebrated the best R&B, soul, rap, jazz, and gospel music from the previous year, with awards being handed out to Janet Jackson, Gregory Abbott, Anita Baker, and many more that evening.

But there was one highlight from the star-filled night that is still celebrated to this day.

As host Luther addressed the audience, the dazzling spotlight casting the rest of the stage into shadow, he introduced Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager's 'That's What Friends Are For'.

And as the song began to play, the spotlight widened to reveal four music legends standing side-by-side with microphones in hand...

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Dionne Warwick and Stevie Wonder perform side-by-side
Dionne Warwick and Stevie Wonder perform side-by-side. Picture: YouTube

Standing on the far left of the talented group, Stevie Wonder effortlessly played the harmonica as the singer to his right, Dionne Warwick, began to sing the opening line.

Swaying along to the slow track, Warwick wrapped her arm around Wonder as she showcased those legendary vocals on the hit song she first covered in 1985, three years after its initial release in 1982.

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Wonder and Vandross soon followed suit, filling the venue with their incredible voices.

The audience couldn't help but cheer and scream as the talented foursome worked their way through the hit with ease.

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Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross and Dionne Warwick on stage in 1987
Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross and Dionne Warwick on stage in 1987. Picture: YouTube

Whitney Houston, who was just 23 years old at the time, was the last to start singing during the live performance.

And as the 'I Will Always Love You' singer belted out an impressive note, Vandross watched on in amazement.

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Though the show was aired live and took place in a venue that seats 3,000 people, the group of musicians' personal rendition felt like an intimate show between good friends.

Houston also performed a solo that evening, with a moving rendition of her 1985 hit 'You Give Good Love'.

Whitney Houston and Luther Vandross singing together at the Soul Train Music Awards
Whitney Houston and Luther Vandross singing together at the Soul Train Music Awards. Picture: YouTube

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'Never Too Much' star Vandross gave a lone performance at the awards ceremony too.

He sang a spellbinding rendition of 'So Amazing', which was originally performed by Dionne Warwick for the 1983 album How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye, and covered by many other artists too.

That night, Vandross bagged the male Album of the Year award for his fifth studio album Give Me the Reason, which included his first top-20 pop hit 'Stop to Love'.

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Wonder also left the awards ceremony with an accolade.

The music legend was given the Soul Train Heritage Award for his lifelong contributions to contemporary music and social causes.