Sunday, February 12, 2012
R.I.P. Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston, one of the greatest singers ever, has died at age 48. Being in LA, I heard the news almost immediately and I was devastated like so many of her fans. Reports are coming in saying that friends and family are especially grieved as I can well imagine. Such shocking news but sadly not totally unexpected.
Whitney Houston died Saturday Feb 11th at 3:55 pm PST at the Beverly Hilton the day that her mentor and music producer, Clive Owen, usually throws his customary Pre-Grammys party and the day before the 54th Annual Grammy Awards Show. Producers are said to be scrambling to get a fitting tribute together for tonight's show.
Her Music Career:
Whitney came from a long line of great singers as her mother is gospel great Cissy Houston her cousin is the legendary 50s singer with that smooth controlled voice, Dionne Warwick, ("Say A Little Prayer For Me)" and her god-mother is the electrifying Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin . Whitney grew up singing gospel music in her church in New Jersey and from a teenager you could tell that she had "it"! Yes, Whitney had the singing chops, good-girl image, wide engaging smile and the cross-over looks and beauty to make it big in the music industry and she did.
Whitney was called America's "Pop Princess" but some people complained that Whitney watered down her soul and R&B voice to cross over to the pop charts. Personally, I never felt that. Actually it's just the contrary because Whitney brought so much soul and emotion to her songs that I was swept away with her each time. In fact, I'm a child of the 80s and Whitney Houston literally sang the soundtrack to most of my then young adult life. From hit songs from Whitney's first album like "I want to Dance With Somebody" to her later hits like "How Will I Know" and "Saving All My Love For You" , I sang and dance my way through my own joy and heartbreak in the '80s. And her rendition of "the Star Spangled Banner" at the 1991 Super Bowl was amazing!
And, of course, my all time favorite song, "I Will Always Love You" ( written by and sang originally by Dolly Parton) is burned forever in my heart. Just seeing TV singing talent show competitors attempt the high registers and full force of this song shows how accomplished Ms. Houston's voice was. And that music video with cuts from the movie, how stirringly romantic and iconic!
Like "the King Of Pop", Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston broke down many racial barriers in the music industry and even on MTV to become the highest grossing female artist of all time and she won 6 Grammys and numerous Billboard and American Music awards. Unfortunately, despite a life of such heights, her demise seems to be playing like Michael's, too.
Like many other singers, Whitney got lured to the big screen but she was no ordinary singer turned-actress but was a rare find, a singer-turned-actress who could play the dramatic lead very well and act against established and even Oscar nominated and award winning actors like Denzel Washington in The Preacher's Wife, Kevin Costner in "The Bodyguard" and even Angela Basset in Waiting to Exhale.
Fashion and Beauty:
Whitney also modeled as a teen and graced the cover of many teen and popular adult magazines like Cosmopolitan. She went on to became a fashion trail blazer and role model of success and beauty for young black women. Her talent, and beauty crossed-over to other races and nations also and she has fans of every description around the world.
Whitney appeared on many TV variety and award shows during her career and she also won 2 Emmys, 1 for the made-for-TV movie, Cinderella with the young singer-actress, Brandy. Whitney was lured back to the small screen for the plague of the entertainment media business, a TV reality show. The show was about her and her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, the R-B singer originally from the 90s R&B boy band, New Edition . Brown had a credible solo career with hits like "My Perogative" and "Every Little Step" and he won a Grammy in 1987. Discord between band members caused Brown to leave New Edition but Brown has recently returned to singing and touring with the group. Brown also had many run-ins with the law for drugs, domestic abuse and child support issues.
Whitney and Bobby Brown's TV reality show was aptly titled "Being Bobby Brown" and it was the worst reality show ever! Both Whitney and Bobby were so "under the influence" and the cameras were everywhere but not in a good way. It was so bad that I felt sorry for their daughter who was just a teen at that time. I could not watch the show for more than 5 minutes and you could never imagine how happy I was when it finally went off the air. God answers prayers!
Speaking of prayers, I've been telling friends to "pray for Whitney" for her near 2 decades of problems with drug addiction and a very destructive marriage. These calls for prayer increased after the Diane Sawyer "crack is whack" interview and how scary thin she was looking and how crazy she was acting. According to reports, Whitney did a total of 3 stints in rehab for reported cocaine and marijuana abuse.
Whitney looked real good after her last intervention and rehab in 2009, though. I remember her talking on the Oprah show and I was greatly encouraged. Whitney spoke about her struggles and how God and faith sustained her and I could hear that the Lord was active in her life again. I was somewhat hopeful for an industry comeback for her then, too but I know the music industry like the Hollywood film industry is shallow and wrought with pitfalls for a recovering addict.
I instead wanted a "spiritual revival" for Whitney where she dedicated her voice and talents to the Lord through signing gospel music and faith outreach. Whitney was loved by many and she had great influence and access to do great works as she often met with with heads of states like U.S Presidents, former South African President Nelson Mandela and many dignitaries and, of course, the rich and famous. Whitney also had a children's charity and lent her voice to other fundraising events for humanitarian causes.
Whitney had already returned to her gospel roots years ago with the soundtrack album for the movie, "The Preacher's Wife" (ex. the song, "I Love You Lord!") which broke gospel music chart and sale records. In fact, some of the songs from Houston's last CD "I Look To You" had the same message of faith and triumph after struggle and the tone was very inspirational. Sadly, after years of this destructive living, Whitney's voice was indeed changed. Personally, I liked the maturity, soulfulness and raspy quality of her voice but others didn't take to it as well. Whitney toured on and off from 2009-2011 but industry news agencies reported poor ticket sales and many cancellations due to some of Whitney Houston's health problems.
I would still pray for Whitney regularly especially if I heard or saw something of concern. I saw Whitney Houston recently in interviews along with American Idol winner, Jordon Sparks, as they did promo interviews for the upcoming re-make of the movie, Sparkle. Whitney looked great and I hoped she was over the worst of it. I also thought she would be good at coaching and mentoring young upcoming female singers and maybe even judge on a singing competition ala American Idol.
I started praying for Whitney again this week when her CD crashed to the floor from a very safe spot on my CD tower all on its own volition. Then I heard reports of her having financial problems so I started praying harder. I couldn't think of any scriptures so I just prayed "God help Whitney".
Then about 4 days ago, I saw video of Whitney leaving a club with the very "wrong crowd"like Brandy's brother, Ray J.. Whitney looked kind of out of it and I felt she was high or about to be. I used to worked with lots of women and mothers with cocaine and heroine addictions for years and I saw the same signs in Whitney again. Drug addiction is a terrible evil and something that the addict has to battle their entire life to overcome. You have to lose a lot of your old "friends" and enablers to kick a drug habit but Hollywood has the most tenacious enablers and fame users (in fact, some you practically have to burn them off like a tick).
So sadly, it seemed that Whitney Houston was being pulled back into that quagmire and it was only a matter of time. I prayed again for God to "save Whitney" from herself and, most importantly, to save her soul. I couldn't think of any scriptures except Psalm 119 which I pray over myself almost daily:
"No pit or snare of the devil can prevail against us" in Jesus' Name.
Well, God has Whitney held close now and I think to myself "what a beautiful sound that heavenly choir has with Whitney and Etta James"...
Rest in peace, Whitney Houston, and may God bless you!
*Reports say that Whitney's last performance was of an impromptu "Jesus Loves Me" at a club performance of singer, Kelly Price.
**Please, pray for Whitney's daughter as it was reported that she has been hospitalized due to grief.
*** Fans showing their love for Whitney on-line and at a growing memorial outside the Beverly Hilton as Whitney Houston never got her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Yesterday there were photos and video of former Beattle and Wings front man, Paul McCarthy and his new wife leaving flowers at the site.
It's Valentine's Day today and I'm loving on the memory of Whitney with "I Will Alwyas Love You" on youtube.