Whitney Houston‘s mother, the great singer Cissy Houston has found a way to channel her grief. On Mother’s Day–May 13th–Cissy will release a four song gospel EP. This is not something she began after Whitney’s tragic death on February 11th. Indeed, I know this story in detail because I heard it from Vy Higginsen, the much respected playwright and musical director (“Mama I Want to Sing”). We ran into each other last week at the premiere of “Evita” on Broadway.

I’ve know Vy a long time, and she’s one of those special people who are living New York landmarks. She was even profiled on “60 Minutes” last year. In addition to her own legend, her sister was the great Atlantic Records star Doris Troy (“Just One Look”). Doris died in 2004, and Cissy Houston performed at the funeral in Harlem at the Abyssinian Baptist Church. Vy told me that after Doris died, she and Cissy bonded. Last year, Vy–who’s very much devoted to the historic preservation of gospel and soul–told Cissy she had to get back to recording her own amazing voice. They began work on a four song EP which would be released on Vy’s record label.

“We worked on it for a long time. On the day that Whitney died, Cissy and I were on the phone for hours talking about what else had to be done,” Vy told me. “Then Whitney died that afternoon, and everything went out the window.”

Once Cissy returned home, grief stricken, Vy suggested to her–gently–that they get back to work. It would take her mind off the tragedy to some extent. On Brenda Blackmon’s WOR TV interview with Cissy, the former leader of the Sweet Inspirations sings a little of the song, “Walk On By Faith.” Vy described it to me as a traditional gospel song that they reworked for Cissy. The record will be released on Mother’s Day, and will be accompanied by four other gospel remakes. Details of distribution are forthcoming.

You can see the discussion of “Walk on By Faith” at around 8:00 on this video

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