Our Top 10 Cissy Houston Songs list looks at a legendary soul and gospel singer. She was also a backup singer for several artists including Elvis Presley, Roy Hamilton, Aretha Franklin, Bette Midler, Dionne Warwick, Luther Vandross, Linda Ronstadt, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Paul Simon, Roberta Flack as well as many others. She won two Grammys for her solo work. For those who may or may not know, she is the mother of Whitney Houston and the aunt of Dionne Warwick. Some of her singles include “Midnight Train to Gerogia,” “Break It to Me Gently,” “Think It Over,” “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself,” “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You),” “You’re the Fire,” “I’ll Be There,” “Amazing Grace,” “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” “Be My Baby” as well as other songs.
Emily Drinkard was born on September 30, 1933. Cissy Houston began her career at a young age. She was five when she joined her sisters and brothers in a gospel group the Drinkard Singers. The group performed at the New Hope Baptist Church. They recorded an album called Joyful Noise. She formed another group in 1963 called the Sweet Inspirations. They sang backup for Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, The Drifters, Lou Rawls, Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick. One thing led to another and she decided to pursue a solo career.
Presenting Cissy Houston was released in 1970. It features the singles “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself,” “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “I’ll Be There,” “Be My Baby” and “The Long and Winding Road.” Cissy Houston released her eponymous album in 1977. It features the singles “Love Is Something That Leads You,” “Love Is Holding On” and “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” Think It Over was released in 1978. It features the singles “Think It Over,” “An Umbrella Song,” “Warning-Danger” and “Somebody Should Have Told Me.” Step Aside For a Lady came out in 1980. It features the singles “Break It to Me Gently” and “You’re the Fire.”
I’ll Take Care of You came out 1992. It features the singles “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” “Waiting in Vain” and “I Don’t Want to Cry.” Face to Face was released in 1996. It features the singles “Amazing Grace,” “Go Where I Send Thy” and “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You).” He Leadeth Me was released in 1997. It features the singles “He Leadeth Me,” “Count Your Blessings” and “In His Arms.” Love Is Holding You came out in 2001. It features the singles “”Love Is Holding You,” “After You” and “I Just Want to Be with You.”
Cissy Houston has been in the music business for a long time. She was a backup singer as well as a solo artist. She put her family before her career so it did take her a while to release music. She proved that she is a great singer in her own right. She was more than just Whitney Houston’s mother and Dionne Warwick’s aunt. Our Top 10 Cissy Houston Songs list will feature her best songs.
# 10 – I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself
The first song on our Top 10 Cissy Houston Songs list is “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” from the album Presenting Cissy Houston. The song has an r&b sound. The touching song is about a woman who loses the love of her life. She’s used to doing everything with her man, but now she has to get used to doing everything alone. She wants him back in her life to ease the pain of her loneliness. She can’t accept the fact that he’s gone. Anyone who has lost someone they loved can relate to this song. This is the type of song that will make you feel emotional. It will make you long for the person you lost.
The song is beautiful and has been recorded by different artists. Cissy Houston’s version will blow your mind. She recorded an upbeat version of the track. You could easily forget this is a song about a lost love. Chuck Jackson’s version is a ballad. His rendition is slow and haunting. Dusty Springfield’s version of the song is also haunting. Cissy Houston’s version has tempo to it and you can move around to it. If you prefer a ballad, you can listen to Chuck Jackson’s or Dusty Springfield’s versions of the song.
If you feel like moving around to the track, you should definitely check out Cissy Houston’s version. Cissy Houston’s voice is stunning. She can do a lot with her instrument. She is a versatile singer. She can sing in a deep voice and can soar to heights unknown. If you listen carefully, you can hear Whitney Houston’s voice in hers. You can tell where Whitney Houston got her talent. Cissy Houston can sing as high as her daughter when she projects her voice.
# 9 – I’ll Be There
The next song on our Top 10 Cissy Houston Songs list is “I’ll Be There” is from the album Presenting Cissy Houston. The song has a soul sound. The tender song is about someone being there for you no matter what happens. She tells someone that she will be there regardless of what happens. She explains what she would do for the person she loves. She would support the person even if they were in a new relationship. This song could be to a friend or a lover. It’s up to you to decide how you choose to interpret the lyrics. She doesn’t specifically say that the song is to a friend or a lover so you can see it how you want.
This is another song that Cissy Houston covered. Bobby Darin recorded this song in the 60s. His version is different from her version of the track. Bobby Darin’s version sounds like doo wop or a standard song while Cissy Houston’s sounds like blues and soul. If the lyrics weren’t similar, you would never know the songs were the same. The arrangement on Cissy Houston’s version is different. It starts out like a blues song and becomes a soul one as the song progresses. The guitar section dominates the track. The drums give the track some tempo.
The song could use the sound of a keyboard, but it doesn’t hurt the song. The song is almost stripped down and that gives the listeners a chance to focus on Cissy Houston’s spectacular voice. She sings her heart out on this song. She sings the song in her upper register. Her church background shined through in this song. She will make you feel like you are sitting in a church while she’s singing. She belts throughout the song and will leave you speechless. She makes this song her own without taking anything away from the original version.
# 8 – How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
The sweet song is from the album Face to Face. The song has a gospel sound. The spiritual song is about a woman wanting to be loved by God. She needed someone to understand her and He was there. She covered an r&b song and turned it into a gospel song. The song is originally about a man being in love with a woman he fantasized about for a long time. She used the same song, but she made God the focus of the song instead of a man she wanted to date. The song has a different meaning from the original take on it. She kept some of the lyrics the same, but she added parts that made the song sound like a gospel track.
Cissy Houston’s version has a gospel and soul sound while Marvin Gaye’s has a bouncy Motown sound. James Taylor’s version is also an upbeat sound. All three versions of the song are different from each other, but they are all good tracks. Our list is about Cissy Houston so we will focus on her version of it. You may find yourself catching the Holy Ghost listening to her version of the song. The music is soft and soothing. The producers made the right call by having the music play softly in the background. It picks up the pace when Cissy Houston and the background singers get louder.
Speaking of Cissy Houston, she decided to switch to gospel music for the album that features this single. It gave her a chance to return to her gospel roots. This was a wise choice for the legendary singer. She sounds right at home singing gospel music. She sings the song with a choir and you will feel like you are in church. She is at the top of her game with this song. She hits all of the right notes and she knocks the song out of the park. The choir does an excellent job supporting the songbird. She does the song justice. The song is a little long, but it doesn’t hurt the track. You get the chance to hear her beautiful vocals as long as possible.
# 7 – Amazing Grace
The uplifting song is from the album Face to Face. The song has a gospel sound. The popular song is about redemption and forgiveness. She tells the listeners that it’s possible to be forgiven despite your sins. She said your soul could be delivered from evil with the help of God. It’s arguably one of the most recognized gospel songs. “Amazing Grace” has been covered a lot over the years.
If you go to church, chances are you have heard this song at one point in your life. If you are in a choir, you may have sang this track at some point in your life. This is an excellent song to listen to if you are about to give up and need hope. This song may help you feel better about what’s going on in your life.
The music is stellar. The song features a pianist. We applaud the producers for limiting the instrumentation on this track. You can focus on the piano as well as Cissy Houston’s amazing vocals. She has such a pretty tone to her voice. She sings in her lower register when she opens the song. She unleashes her inner diva once she sings the chorus. She proves she could give any power diva a run for her money. The choir joins her after the second verse and they sound incredible together. Her vocals soar up to the Heavens while she sings with the choir. The choir doesn’t drown her out. Hearing them sing the song together might bring tears to your eyes. You can add this track to your gospel play list because she does an incredible version of this song.
# 6 – You Make Me Feel Brand New ft. Chuck Jackson
The sentimental song is from the album I’ll Take Care of You. The song has an r&b sound. The romantic song is about someone making you feel like a new person. They are grateful for everything they’ve done for each other. They want to express how much they love each other. This song is the perfect track to play when you are with someone you love. You can put this song on and get the romantic party started. Cissy Houston and Chuck Jackson covered The Stylistics’ song. You may be more familiar with the Stylistics’ version of this song, but you should check this one out. This version features a female and male singer instead of two male singers.
The Stylistics’ version of the song is top tier. They set the bar very high with this track. If you grew up around r&b music, you have heard this song at some point in your life. With that said, Cissy Houston and Chuck Jackson had a tough road to travel covering this song. The Stylistics version can still be played on r&b radio. Cissy Houston and Chuck Jackson’s version is pretty good.
The melody of their version is different from The Stylistics’ version of it. The tempo of Cissy Houston’s and Chuck Jackson’s version is slower. The music is more updated than The Stylistics’ version. The music has a mix of jazz and r&b music. The music builds to a crescendo when the artists sing the hook. Their voices are magic together. She sings the song in her lower register.
She belts a little in the song. She is capable of doing more than she did in this song, but her voice is amazing. Chuck Jackson’s voice is outstanding. He hits every note without missing a beat. His voice is similar to Peabo Bryson’s voice. You can tell they have church backgrounds by the way they sing the song. They won’t make you forget The Stylistics’ version, but theirs is worth listening to as well.
# 5 – You’re The Fire
The next song on our Top 10 Cissy Houston Songs list is “You’re the Fire” from the album Step Aside For a Lady. The song has a disco sound. The warm song is self-explanatory. It’s a love song to the man in her life. She knew they were going to be together just by looking at him. She wants to give her heart to him. She is devoted to the man in her life. The lyrics are passionate and romantic. She talks about her desire for the man in her life without overdoing it. She says just enough for you to understand how she feels without it sounding corny.
This song was just in time for the disco era. Disco was about to end at the time this song was recorded. This song sounds like something Donna Summer would have recorded at the height of her fame. In fact, the melody sounds similar to Donna Summer’s hit “Heaven Knows.” If you listen carefully, you may notice the similarities between the two songs.
The song has a classic disco sound, but it can still get the party started. You will be on the dance floor as soon as the beat drops. This song is perfect to listen to at a club or if you want some private time with the person who sets your soul on fire.
Cissy Houston’s vocals are strong on this track. Her voice is similar to Gladys Knight and Whitney Houston on this song. She switches the tone of her voice throughout the track. She goes up and down throughout the song. She proved she could sing the alphabet and make it sound good.
# 4 –Midnight Train To Georgia
The loyal song is from the album Presenting Cissy Houston. The song has a country and soul beat. The creative song is told in two parts. One part is about a man who has moved to become a star. It didn’t work out so he wants to go back to Georgia. He’s given up everything to get a ticket to go back home to Georgia. He wants to go back to a simple time in his life. The other part of the song is told from her point of view. She is successful, but she wants to be where he goes. She doesn’t want to live without her man in her life. She wants to get on the train with him and live with him. This song sounds like something from a book or a movie. She is a dedicated woman to uproot her life to be with the man she loves.
You may be more familiar with Gladys Knight & the Pips version of the track, but Cissy Houston recorded it too. She recorded the track before Gladys Knight & the Pips. The Gladys Knight & the Pips version is a bigger hit than Cissy Houston’s version of the track, but she did the song justice too. This version of the song mixes country with soul music. The music is soft and sweet to allow the listeners to focus on her exquisite voice. She sounds like an angel on this song. She shows excellent control of her voice. She knows when to hold back and when to let loose.
If you close your eyes, you would think you were listening to Whitney Houston. It’s not hard to see where Whitney Houston got her talent because she sounds exactly like her mother. Cissy Houston proved you don’t have to be a soprano in order for your voice to soar into the clouds. You may remember Gladys Knight & the Pips’ version of this song, but Cissy Houston gave this song her all.
# 3 – Break It to Me Gently
The heartbreaking song is from the album Step Aside For a Lady. The song has a soul beat. The poignant song is about a woman who wants to be in denial that her relationship is ending. If he wants to break up with her, she wants him to do it gently. She wouldn’t be able to handle it if he hurts her. She loves him and doesn’t want him to let her go. She needs him to be kind if he does decide to leave her. She wants to have her pride and she wants him to spare her feelings. This is a different type of love song. She doesn’t want the man she loves to hurt her by leaving. If you have been in a position where you don’t want your man to leave you, this song will hit close to home.
Different artists have covered this stirring song. Cissy Houston originally recorded this track. She recorded the song in 1980. Angela Bofill’s version might be the one listeners are more familiar with, but Cissy Houston sang it first. Cissy Houston’s version of the song has a lot of soul. The music will touch your heart. The piano and string section are incredible. The song is stripped down with a simple beat. The music picks up when she gets to the chorus of the song. Cissy Houston’s voice will hold your attention until she’s done.
There aren’t enough words to describe how beautiful her voice is, but we will try our best. She has impeccable phrasing. You can understand every word she says. She gives the song a build up before she reaches for the stars. She starts the song softly and takes us to church again when she sings the chorus. Your jaw may drop listening to her turn this song into a power ballad. She does a pretty run at the end of the song. It was the perfect way to end the track. If you have heard Angela Bofill’s version, you have to listen to Cissy Houston’s version of it.
# 2 – Be My Baby
The pleading song is from the album Presenting Cissy Houston. The song has an r&b beat. The flirtatious song is about a woman who wants to convince a guy that she likes to go out with her. She tells him that she’s liked him since the first day she saw him. She believes they could be together forever. She wants him to feel the same way she does. This is a cover of The Ronettes’ track. Cissy Houston recorded a lot of cover songs throughout her career. She knows how to take on big songs and make them her own. If you have heard this song, you most likely heard the Ronettes’ version of it. It’s time for you to check out Cissy Houston’s version of the song.
The Ronettes’ song is an up-tempo version. It has a doo-wop sound that’s a throwback to the 50s. Cissy Houston’s version is slower and soulful. The music is stirring and hypnotic. There’s a little hint of the Ronette’s version in it, but the songs sound different. Cissy Houston’s version sounds more mature than The Ronettes’version. She is older than The Ronettes’ were when they recorded it so it makes sense that her version sounds more mature. Cissy Houston’s voice is absolutely flawless. She goes up and down without her voice breaking. She holds outstanding runs when she sings the chorus.
We have mentioned it before, but she takes you to church with this song just like she did with the other songs on our list. She holds little notes in the chorus. She knew how to work this song into completion. Her voice was just what the doctor ordered. Her voice is stunning. She holds a very impressive note towards the finale of the song. The background singers do an excellent job supporting her. Their voices blend very well together. This song could have easily been number one, but it lost the coin toss.
# 1 – Think It Over
The number one song on our Top 10 Cissy Houston Songs list is “Think It Over” from the album of the same name. The song has a disco beat. The straightforward song is about a woman warning her man to think about what he’s doing before their relationship is over. She heard from people that he was cheating and she warns him to think about what he’s doing before their relationship ends. She is confident to expect him to think about his actions before he leaves. Most women want the men to leave when they find out that they’re cheating on them. We haven’t heard too many tracks where the woman wants the man to stay with her. The writers were definitely creative with this song.
This song has a hypnotic disco. Disco hasn’t been around for a long time, but this song can still get people on the dance floor. The song has a vintage sound without sounding dated. As soon as the beat begins, you have to move around to it. The music is fire and you will be moving until the song is done. If you want to dance at the club or at home, this song will do the trick. Cissy Houston’s voice is a mix of Gladys Knight, Jackie Moore and Candi Stanton. They have rich voices just like Cissy Houston.
You would think someone with gospel roots wouldn’t touch disco music, but she did it. Cissy Houston does hit little high notes when she sings the hook. She shows that she can sing in her upper and lower registers without losing a beat. Her vocals are killer throughout the song. Here is a fun fact. Whitney Houston is singing in the background of the song. She is singing the higher parts of the chorus.
Top 10 Cissy Houston Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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