LOS ANGELES -- For Bishop T.D. Jakes, watching Whitney Houston sing a classic gospel hymn two months ago made him sure the long-struggling singer was poised for a comeback.
Instead, her soulful rendition of "His Eye is on the Sparrow" will be the last chance for audiences to see Houston perform new music. Her performance was filmed for a scene in the upcoming movie "Sparkle," in which Houston stars as the mother of a family of girls who form a singing group and struggle with fame and addiction.
Houston's death on Saturday in the bathroom of her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel thwarted any chance for the singer to rebound from years of damage to her voice and reputation caused by drug abuse and erratic behavior.
The footage of Houston singing is nowhere near as voluminous as the rehearsal videos left behind by Michael Jackson that were crafted into the film "This Is It." Yet "Sparkle" represents a similar opportunity for audiences -- the chance to see a once-gifted but since-tarnished artist perform one last time.
Jackson's film, released four months after his death, earned more than $250 million worldwide; the success of "Sparkle," scheduled for release on Aug. 17, remains to be seen. However, Jakes predicts that audiences will be moved by Houston's singing of the "Sparrow" gospel classic and another song recorded for the film.
"She delivered it with such conviction that it was a very touching moment in the filming of the movie," recalled Jakes, a Texas minister and South Charleston, W.Va., native who helped produce the film. "She just left such a deep impression on everybody."
Houston's performance, filmed in Detroit, brought tears to the eyes of those on the "Sparkle" set, Jakes said.
The film's executive producer, Howard Rosenman, said the film will show audiences a "Whitney that people have never seen, Whitney that people have never heard."
By the time of her death, Houston was far removed from her defining film role in 1992's "The Bodyguard." That film, written by Morgantown High graduate Lawrence Kasdan, not only became a blockbuster, but also broke down cultural barriers and produced an award-winning soundtrack anchored by the singer's vocals.
Posthumous releases are nothing new to modern audiences, who watched Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning turn as the Joker in "The Dark Knight" in summer 2008, months after his accidental overdose death. A day after Houston's death, Amy Winehouse's parents accepted a Grammy Award for her duet with Tony Bennett, "Body and Soul," which appeared on the crooner's best-selling album "Duets II."
Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning on 23 July 2011.
The cache of rehearsal footage for his comeback concerts that Jackson left behind when he died in June 2009 helped his estate dig out of debt and showed the world the first images of Jackson performing that it had seen in years. Concert promoter AEG Live released 30-seconds of footage a week after the singer's death and the hundreds of hours of video were crafted into "This Is It," which not only demonstrated the King of Pop's showmanship, but also aided prosecutors who secured an involuntary manslaughter conviction against the singer's personal physician.