Whitney Houston (1963 – 2012)
She was a tragic soul, with a voice like no other. Quite possibly the greatest female singer of all time, Whitney Elizabeth Houston is dead. According to The Associated Press, Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster, confirmed that the superstar died this afternoon in Los Angeles, California. The cause of death is unknown as I pen this post. Whitney reigned over pop music from the late 1980’s until the late 1990’s before her career was derailed by allegations of substance abuse.
Born in 1963, Whitney was the daughter of acclaimed singer Cissy Houston and cousin of soul singer Dionne Warwick. Her godmother was the great Aretha Franklin. According to The Associated Press, Whitney began singing in church at the age of 11. As her voice became more prominent, she began singing with her mother in night clubs in New Jersey. During this time she was discovered by record executive at Arista Records, Clive Davies; the rest is history. She would go on to become one of the most celebrated female artistes of all time. According to CNN, Whitney Houston is listed as the most awarded artiste of all time, having won a record 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards. This is as of 2010. Houston is listed as one of the most successful female artistes of all time, selling 170 million albums worldwide. Her debut album “Whitney Houston” is listed as the most successful selling debut album of all time by a female artiste.
I will never forget the first time I heard Whitney’s voice. The song was “I Will Always Love You.” As a young boy, I was truly amazed that someone could sing that well. In my young mind, you weren’t a good singer unless you could hit that one particular note in “I Will Always Love You”, you guys know exactly what note I’m talking about. Whitney quite literally defined for me what a good singer should be. I would always struggle to hold the note, ultimately losing my breath, while Whitney’s voice boomed from the radio. The same obtained for “I Have Nothing”, I was particularly depressed that I couldn’t hold those notes. At that time, I considered myself an excellent singer, so you can imagine my dismay that I couldn’t match up to Miss Houston. Whitney never needed any instrument, her instrument was her voice. All she needed was a microphone and she would thrill audiences.
I remember always liking the American national anthem, but after Whitney performed it at the Super Bowl, I found a new appreciation of the anthem, the performance was stunning. Her voice coupled with rockets bursting in the air made for a truly electrifying performance. Many of us grew up with Whitney’s hits being played, especially on Sundays. She reminded us that the children are the future. Children everywhere will remember the lyrics, “I believe the children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way, show them all the beauty they possess inside, give them a sense of pride. To make it easier, let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”. I can’t recall a devotion, concert or recital in school where “The Greatest Love of All” wasn’t performed or played; such was the influence of this beautiful talent. I’m sure Whitney has served as an inspiration for many singers today.
What I loved the most about Whitney Houston is that at the height of her career she was always able to balance stunning sex appeal with a regal appearance. She exuded sex appeal, but never overtly so. For me, she defined what it meant to be a lady, especially back then. I remember watching her on stage and being in awe. Whitney’s voice was as beautiful as it was effortless. She didn’t just perform for us, she experienced the song. Seeing the way Whitney handled those songs was simply amazing. I’m yet to hear a voice as beautiful and as powerful as hers, I doubt I will. She truly was a talented entertainer.
Such was her talent that Whitney also conquered the field of acting. She starred in movies such as The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale and The Preacher’s Wife. The soundtrack for The Bodyguard received the Grammy for Album of the Year, while the soundtrack for The Preacher’s Wife went on to become the biggest selling gospel album of all time. This beautiful talent conquered both music and film. At the time of her death, she was alleged to be filming a movie with Jordin Sparks.
Unfortunately, the memory of Whitney Houston will be tarnished by her marriage to singer Bobby Brown. The two were married in 1992 and the union produced a daughter, Bobbi Kristina. It has been alleged that Bobby Brown was the cause and inspiration behind Whitney’s struggle with substance abuse. The couple divorced in 2007. I urge everyone not to remember her for her struggle, but for her talent and how much she touched us, if she did indeed touch you.
The music industry has lost a powerful entertainer, a phenomenal voice and a beautiful woman, the incomparable Whitney Houston. R.I.P Whitney Houston. Heaven’s choir has earned itself a voice. I personally will miss her voice and smile.
What is your favourite Whitney song? Please share.