After a two and a half year hiatus, Whitney Houston returned to the red carpet in NY last night.

If our calculations are correct, Whitney has done numerous events but not a single arrival line since a February 2008 pre-Grammy party ... so it's good to have her back!

Whit and mom Cissy hit up the 7th Annual Black Ball for Keep a Child Alive at the Hammerstein Ballroom -- which was also attended by Alicia Keys, Usher, Janelle Monae, Jane Krakowski and the stunning Sade.

Check out all the arrival shots!

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