Whitney Houston lives on in Belinda Davids

Stage is her playground.
Stage is her playground.

SA's own Whitney Houston, Belinda Davids, has become a global sensation.

But she says there's a whole lot that goes into the tribute act than just singing. First of all, she no longer enjoys the privacy she once had and spends most of her time travelling rather than with family.

She's also had to restrict herself from the luxuries of life - to not only sound like Whitney, but look like her too. But she's not complaining.

Davids was discovered by Showtime Australia. After [visiting] 12 countries and auditioning more than 15000 women Davids was their perfect pick.

She mimics Whitney down to the T - head, hands and mouth movements too, and it comes to her naturally as she spent her childhood years studying the videos of the US superstar.

Once in Hong Kong, she was asked to perform a capella to prove she wasn't lip-synching. Davids performs six nights a week for seven months of the year and maintains that she still loves it and never gets bored.

"I wear the colours Whitney liked to wear on stage. I wear her legendary curls because that's what she wore for most of her career and we have seven costume changes in the show to mimic her style on stage," she says.

Belinda as Whitney Houston
Belinda as Whitney Houston

"We have the best wig creator, Patrick Missile. He has a hair salon and beauty salon in Johannesburg and knows how to deliver the best looks that resemble Whitney.

"I have plenty to say in the design of the clothes as I'm a perfectionist and we have a variety of designers."

Gert Johan Coetzee did the opening number, Ibrahim-Alexander Yueksel of Nunu-Comp designing company designed the red dress showstopper and Rufftung also contributed a few looks and makes sure Davids is always ready for the red carpet.

"Not everyone is able to make costumes for stage that withstand the wear and tear of backstage changes or are able to work with sequins, so we have the best," she says.

She looked like a dream, just like Whitney in the It's Not Right, But It's OK music video, when she performed and was crowned the winner of the BBC special, Even Better Than The Real Thing.

Davids was also privileged to perform for her audience on FoxTV's show, Showtime At The Apollo, for Steve Harvey in New York.

Her rendition of Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You received a standing ovation from the audience.

"It was incredible to perform on an iconic stage where Whitney performed.

"It's hard work to even crack a nod at the Apollo Theatre, as well as captivating the crowd there.

"Just when I thought I was done, God showed me that he has only just begun.

After struggling for close to 30 years to make a name for myself I've gone full circle," says Davids.

She still has dreams of separating from the Whitney persona by introducing the world to "her unique Belinda [style of] music".

"The game plan is still to release my own music and maybe incorporate it into the show," she says.

"Also when I'm home, switching off from the character is easy - my children remind me that when I am home I have to be mommy, and not Whitney."

The opening night of the return SA show kicked off at Emperors Palace on June 2 and the show runs until July 8. It will be her only SA run of the show until next year.