When I first heard Whitney Houston’s debut single, “You Give Good Love”, it was like a revelation. That voice. The power. The richness. I was captivated. I didn’t know who she was, but I knew she would be a star. With “Saving All My Love for You” I was hooked. Like tweens and teens everywhere, I was determined to belt out every note just like she did. I thought Whitney was the absolute epitome. She then proved it with song and wonderful song, hit after epic hit. Few people could make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Whitney did.
When I got a text on Saturday from a number I didn’t even recognize saying that “Whitney Houston died”, I thought it was just another crude internet joke. After a quick Google search, the reality set in. Whitney Houston was dead. For real.
In an era where superlatives like DIVA and ICON are carelessly tossed around for every Jane, Jill and Tammy, Whitney Houston was the very definition of them all. She was the standard bearer. The bar by which wannabe stars would measure themselves. She influenced countless stars who would come after her with talent that wasn’t just extraordinary, but otherworldly. Her voice was blessed by God.
Much will be made of Whitney’s troubled life. Her infamous relationship problems, and battles with substance abuse are well trod ground. There will even be those who are unsympathetic, feeling that she squandered a gift once described as “a national treasure”. Many of us acknowledged that she would never again reach the vocal peaks she had in her prime. However, we should all remember the principal, “to whom much is given, much is required”. So, for as much talent as Whitney possessed, that much more was required of her. It had to be weighty being THE BEST. As we all know, the public’s expectations are endless. We want an artist to be perfect at all times: perfect pitch, perfect personality, and sing it just like they did on the record. And, do it all with every detail being dissected by the media. Immensely talented individuals in all walks of life are sometimes crushed by the burden of their gifts. It happens.
At this point, we don’t know how Whitney passed. What we do know is that she left a musical legacy like none other. There is only one Whitney Elizabeth Houston. She was unparalleled.
When the tabloid fodder ends, the music remains. And we will be playing it for a very long time.
Some of my favorites: