"I Believe in You and Me" is a ballad written by Sandy Linzer and David Wolfert. The song was first recorded and released by the R&B group The Four Tops in 1983. The song was written by Linzer and Wolfert in 1982, and the Four Tops released it as a single in 1983 (although the song is, in essence, a solo recording by lead vocalist Levi Stubbs). While it failed to crack the US Top 40, it became a moderate hit for the group on the U.S. R&B chart, peaking at #40 on the Hot Black Singles chart in early 1983.
In 1996, R&B/pop singer Whitney Houston recorded a very successful cover of the song for her film The Preacher's Wife and released it as a single. Following its release, the song became a top five pop and R&B hit in the U.S., also peaking on music charts worldwide and is most popularly known as a Whitney Houston song. Despite the bigger success of the Whitney Houston version, however, the song's co-composer David Wolfert, stated in a 2001 interview that young songwriters, referring to the song, told him: "Oh, you wrote that Whitney song." He claimed, "I say, 'That's not really a Whitney song,' and play them the (Four Tops) original. Their mouths drop open. No one is going to sing that song like Levi-ever."
The original version recorded by The Four Tops was a moderate success, charting at position 40 in Billboard 's Hot Black Singles chart. American R&B singer, David Peaston, won a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist, also recorded the song for his 'Mixed Emotions' album in 1991.
Shortly before his death in 2008, Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs, who was sidelined from the group due to complications of a stroke, and confined to a wheelchair, appeared with the other members of The Four Tops, and Aretha Franklin, and sang "I Believe In You and Me" live onstage in Detroit, in his final television appearance on From The Heart: The Four Tops 50th Anniversary Special (2004) on PBS.
"I Believe in You and Me" is a slow tempo R&B song with strong gospel influences. Written in the key of C major, the beat is set in common time and moves at a slow 66 beats per minute. Houston's vocals in the song spans from the low note of G3 to the high note of A5.
Billboard gave the song a positive review saying, "As she did with Dolly Parton's 'I Will Always Love You,' Houston redefines the composition with a soaring, glass-shattering performance that will leave her legions of fans breathless."J. D. Considine of The Baltimore Sun called the song "the Designated Hit Ballad" and added "[it] is pretty much what we've come to expect from Houston ― a slow, Streisand-esque build-up, a subtle sense of drama and a big, full-voiced payoff in the final chorus."Neil Strauss from The New York Times in his review for The Preacher's Wife Soundtrack, praised the song highly, stating "[it] is among the year's most virtuosic pop ballads." While reviewing the soundtrack, Elysa Gardner of Los Angeles Times wrote that the song "is a cheesy classic in the tradition of 'I Will Always Love You,' with an instantly familiar melody and a poignant, bolero-like arrangement."
"I Believe in You and Me", the first single from The Preacher's Wife Soundtrack, debuted at number seven and number six, on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B Singles charts, the issue date of December 28, 1996, respectively. In four weeks later, the issue date of January 25, 1997, it released as a two-sided single with "Somebody Bigger Than You and I" from the soundtrack in the R&B marketplace, peaked at number four on the Hot R&B chart, staying on the chart for 20 weeks. The following week, it also reached a peak of number four on the Hot 100 chart, becoming Houston's 16th top five hit. The song entered the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart at number 19, the issue date of December 14, 1996 and peaked at number two, making it her 21st top ten hit of the chart, the issue date of March 1, 1997. The song was ranked thirty-three on the 1997 Billboard Year-end Hot 100 Singles chart. Additionally, "I Believe in You and Me/Somebody Bigger Than You and I" two-sided single placed at position number twenty-nine on the 1997 Billboard Year-end Hot R&B Singles chart. The single was certified Platinum for the shipments of 1,000,000 copies or more by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on February 4, 1997, becoming Houston's fourth Platinum single.
Worldwide, it was released as the second single from the soundtrack after "Step by Step" and a moderate hit, unlike the United States. The single peaked at number 16 on the UK Singles Chart, number 98 in Germany, number 74 in the Netherlands and number 46 in Sweden.
Live performances by Whitney Houston
Houston performing "I Believe in You and Me" on the National Lottery Show in the U.K. on March 15, 1997
Houston performed "I Believe in You and Me" on Saturday Night Live on December 14, 1996. Houston also sang the song on the National Lottery show, broadcast live on BBC in the United Kingdom on March 15, 1997. The song was performed optionally on her 1998 European Tour. For her My Love Is Your Love World Tour in 1999, it was performed as the first song for 'Movie Medley'. The performance of the song in Sopot, Poland was broadcast live on Polish TV channel, TVP1, on August 22, 1999. Houston performed the song along with "I Will Always Love You" as a part of medley on Arista Records 25th Anniversary Celebration, taped at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on April 10 and later broadcast on NBC, May 15, 2000. The performance on the show was released on the same titled DVD and VHS in June 2000. In four years, the similar medley performance of the show was done as part of a tribute to Clive Davis, who received a special award for outstanding contribution to the music industry, on the 16th World Music Awards on September 15, 2004.
Live cover versions by other artists
CeCe Winans performed the song to tribute to Whitney Houston, the first ever recipient of the Triumphant Spirit Award at the 10th annual Essence Awards, taped on April 4, 1997 and broadcast later on Fox TV, May 22, 1997. At the 12th annual Soul Train Music Awards on February 27, 1998, the song was performed by Kenny Lattimore and Terry Ellis as part of a musical tribute to Houston, who was honored with the Quincy Jones Award for outstanding career achievements in the field of entertainment on the ceremony.Kim Burrell sang the jazzy version of the song to tribute to Houston, who was honoree in entertainment field, and received a standing ovation on The 2010 BET Honors, taped at the Warner Theatre on January 16 and later aired on BET, February 1, 2010.Usher performed this song in the CBS special "Grammy presents: We Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston".