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Music producer Harvey Mason Jr. has the distinction of working with Whitney Houston on her final recording, just days before the singer's death on Feb. 11. The Los Angeles-based producer, who owns Mason Sound in North Hollywood, Calif., recalls how the late pop superstar was smiley and "really positive" during their session on Feb. 7.
"We stood around and joked, listened to music, and we got her this throat coat tea she likes," says Mason, who was producing Houston's upcoming single, "Celebrate," a duet with Jordin Sparks. The record was to appear on the soundtrack to Houston and Sparks new film Sparkle.
"Then she got in the booth, started her vocal session with a prayer as she always did, and worked for about three to four hours. We ended the session dancing around the control room while she said 'Turn it up! Turn it up!' She was so fun-loving," he tells People.
Although the track was a duet, Mason explains that the "I Will Always Love You" singer didn't record with Sparks, 22. Houston, who had worked on the song during a few different sessions, "wanted to make sure Jordin had enough time to shine on the song," says Mason. "She loved all of the female singers coming up."
Mason adds that Houston sounded great on the single. "She said 'Don't make anything less than perfect.'"
Despite speculation that Houston couldn't cope with her professional stress, Mason insists "she was excited, not overworked."
"I've been around her when she is overworked. She comes into the studio and is kind of down and quiet and just wants to get in and out. This was not like that," he explains. "Whitney was worried about her fans, but there was no undue pressure."