Untitled For Whitney
February 13, 2012 § 1 Comment
I did not think I would write this, because there is something about writing about a tragedy as it unfolds that seems premature to me. Has there been enough time to process, to receive the full story, or even to feel more than just sadness? Yet it seems that in our multi-connected, always plugged in 24 hour lives the show must go on. Remembrances are made, stories are told, old interviews resurface, and so after sorting through the myriad of media following her death, I too break with convention and use this post to remember the late Whitney Houston.
To be fair, I never met Whitney Houston, although we did meet her cousin, Dione Warwick some years ago in the eighties at an outdoor festival in L.A, and as my parent’s introduced her to us…I furrowed my brow trying to recall why that name should sound familiar to my eight or nine-year old ears and then my mother said, “She’s related to Whitney Houston.” Aha…Today of course I know Dione Warwick as a talented singer in her own right, but back then my sisters and I were beyond smitten with Whitney Houston. Like other little girls, and little black girls in particular who came of age in the 80s Whitney made you want to sing, even if you knew you couldn’t. When she sang, “How will I know…” She made you want to be that girl, and you dreamed about pink lipstick and big curly hair. When she said, “The Greatest Love of All,” you believed that you were more than just a little person with no power and no voice, after all, a pop singer had made a whole song about you.
Some years later “The Body Guard” was released, and we spent the better part of one summer visiting our Aunt in D.C. and playing the soundtrack over and over again. We each took turns Auntie included, choosing our favorite song and trying to belt it out with as many Whitney-like incantations as possible. And there were so many other memories, other songs and films (“Try It On My Own,” “I’m Every Woman,” “My Love is Your Love” and the made for TV film Cindarella). One of my all-time favorites Whitney songs is “Yes, Jesus Loves Me,” from “The Preacher’s Wife” Soundtrack. She took a simple Sunday School song and infused with soul and experience to make it transcend and reflect ones adolescence and adulthood, though the message was still the same. As a life-long fan this is why Whitney Houston will be missed, because she made music that children did not have to hide from their parents and parents did not have to hide from their children. There was no barrage of dirty lyrics, no too sultry sounds, no questionable content – just great vocals, and classic arrangements.
In this sense, she was already missed, because there are fewer and fewer contemporary singers in my opinion who can really sang, and at the same time have something to sing about. For our generation Whitney and Michael will be remembered much like Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye for my parents and grandparents: Having extraordinary talent, ordinary issues, and an abrupt and untimely end.