R&B star Heather Headley pulled out of several performances of the West End production of THE BODYGUARD over the festive season after doctors warned her she would lose her voice if she continued.

The singer fell ill over Christmas (12) and consulted a medic in a bid to receive treatment so she could carry on portraying pop star Rachel Marron, the role Whitney Houston played in the 1992 movie.

However, Headley was advised to rest her voice to ensure she didn't further damage her vocal cords, forcing her to axe a string of appearances.

She tells Britain's Daily Mail, "I quarantined myself... it has been a little tough. I've had sore throats and coughing even though I've been on antibiotics.

"My vocal chords (sic) were swollen and the doctors explained that if I went on I'd end up with no voice at all so I was forced to put up and shut up. There was no talking, no shouting, and certainly no singing.

"I'm just so sorry that I missed all those performances. We're such a close bunch on the show and I missed my colleagues.

"The audience know I'm not Whitney Houston but they expect the songs to be sung at a certain high standard, the kind of standard Whitney had. Every night I think of my performance as an homage to her and I've heard some people leave the theatre and go home and put Whitney on."

Headley also reveals she has the pop superstar in mind as the first anniversary of her death approaches next week (11Feb13).

She adds, 'I'm aware of Whitney every day and it's still kind of weird to think that she's passed on. In a way though she's still here because people play her songs around the world every single day. So, she's still here, really."

Houston drowned in the bathtub of her Los Angeles hotel suite on the eve of the Grammy Awards last year (12).