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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 09:18 GMT 10:18 UK
Israel retreat for Houston
Whitney Houston
Houston has travelled to Israel with husband Bobby Brown
US pop star Whitney Houston has travelled to Israel to find inspiration for a forthcoming album as a guest of a religious group.

The singer is expected to record songs with members of the Black Hebrews community, who are known for their gospel choirs.

She is also due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at his Jerusalem home during her stay.

Houston and her husband Bobby Brown were invited to Israel by the Black Hebrews group in Dimona, where religious customs include a vegan diet and polygamy.

The Black Hebrews settled in Israel in 1969 and believe they are descendents of one of the lost tribes of Israel.

The singer's spokeswoman Patricia Houston said the trip to the town of Dimona was a "spiritual retreat".

"She wanted to be here before recording her spiritual album," she said.

Houston's career has been on the wane in recent years, despite signing a $100m (69m) deal with Arista records in 2001.

She has admitted to drug and alcohol problems although she has said she has now put these behind her.


The visit to Israel had been postponed on a number of occasions over security fears.

On her arrival in the remote desert town, Houston was greeted by fans from the 2,000-strong community.

"We felt it was important that another message be sent to America that Israel is a safe place to come visit, despite the problems and the issues we have," said Asiel Ben-Israel, one of Houston's hosts from the Black Hebrews community.

Patricia Houston added: "She is loving it. She is a spiritual woman and wanted to come here and touch the land and be around the saints of Dimona."

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