AP eats crow after ‘Sparrow’ flub

Thursday, February 23, 2012
By Frank Lockwood

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — In stories on the death of Whitney Houston sent Feb. 12 and 13, The Associated Press incorrectly reported the name of a song she sang in an upcoming movie. The title of the song is “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” not “Her Eyes on the Sparrow.”

“His Eye is on the Sparrow” is a familiar song for those who love the gospel music genre.

The lyrics are by Civilla Durfee Martin and the music is by Charles H. Gabriel. Growing up, my Assemblies of God hymnal featured many of Gabriel’s pieces, including “Send the Light”, “I Stand Amazed in the Presence” and “Since Jesus Came Into My Heart.”

But “His Eye is on the Sparrow” is the song that left a real imprint on history. The great Ethel Waters sang this song in her 1952 movie “The Member of the Wedding” and at Billy Graham crusades from coast to coast. She borrowed the song’s title and used it for the name of her autobiography.

Mahalia Jackson sang it.

Here’s a great version by Gladys Knight.

Or there’s Lauryn Hill and Tanya Blount, singing it on the soundtrack to Sister Act 2.

Now, we’ll have Whitney Houston singing “His Eye is on the Sparrow” as her musical valedictory on the soundtrack to “Sparkle.” And I have no doubt that she’ll give a performance worthy of Mahalia, Ethel and Gladys.

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