There is no shortage of commentary about how talented, yet flawed Whitney Elizabeth Houston was. Every new story echoes Whitney’s greatness, and somehow points out her substance addiction- perhaps an attempt to dim the light of her brilliant radiance. Rumors, lies, and half truths swirled around her in life, and inevitably follow her in death. Despite all of the back handed compliments and condemnations of Whitney, her essence and life should permeate us all into a greater understanding of self.
Whitney was gifted. It was an absolute no brainer that the tall and gorgeous Whitney Houston was unlike anyone who had ever graced our radios & TV screens. No one was as naturally beautiful with the soprano pipes Whitney had, even as a teenager. In another world, Whitney who famously mentored and mothered up and coming musicians, would have been a vision in Versace couture teaching Tyra Banks to man up against Naomi Campbell and showing her how to work her awkwardness. Whitney told the modeling world no, & Arista’s CEO Clive Davis yes and singlehandedly transformed the face of popular music. As Madonna pushed her sexuality and Janet flirted between sassy and political consciousness, Whitney simply exuded the type of glamor usually reserved for Fairy godmothers and princesses from Disney movies. Whitney’s vocals had the soul of old ladies in the front row of Grandma’s church, matched with the power and control of a seasoned opera chanteuse. Somewhere between jaw dropping amazing and striking beauty was the woman, who’s gifts were perhaps so effortless she may have not known the true value of them herself.
Clive Davis knew the value. Whitney’s songs made him a very rich man, Her catalog, loaded with hit records solidified Davis’ legacy as a great eye for female powerhouse talents like Janis Joplin, Phylis Hyman, and Whitney’s Auntie Re Re, (we mortals would call her The Queen of Soul) With Whitney Houston more than most contemporary artists the technique and polish of her vocals turned great songs into modern day classic standard, after modern day classic standard. No one could sing a song like Whitney Houston. She is the bar, bar none. All anyone would have to do is Wiki her and go to her Vevo channel to see for themselves. Whitney who was too proud to use Auto Tune and sing over recorded vocals during performances in later career, and the press never seemed to let Whitney live it down. She came from a different era of authenticity. She always wanted to come from an authentic place and connect with her audience, so even when Whitney shouldn’t have sang, she sang. But to remember Whitney Houston in that way is like remembering Michael Jordan as a Washington Wizard. Is Elvis not the King of Rock n Roll? Whitney just has a 20 plus year career of creating pop and American music history while being the definition by every future and current diva is measured to, while never portraying the image of sexpot to do so.
No one is perfect, and no one understands what motivates another to do what they do. We can’t even understand our own actions at times. Also to whom much is given, much is tested. No one can imagine Whitney’s tests, I am just thankful that I was around to witness her gifts. There are so many lessons we could learn from Whitney’s life. I think above all things she’d wish for us to LOVE- ourselves. She’d tell us to cherish that which makes us who we individually are. When I’m at moments of confusion in my life, after praying and thinking, I will think about Whitney Houston, and what my Fairy Godmother would think is best. My tribute to her will not just be support of her music, it will appear in the decisions that lead the direction of my life. She will be my reminder despite being a giving person, being a talented person, being a beautiful person, never to lose myself in any of those things. Whitney will remind me to hold on to myself before any of the attributes that make me who I am. She will remind me, in the end no matter how many people good or bad pop into our lives, we are on our own. Whitney Elizabeth Houston will be with me to remind me of personal greatness, and a personal commitment to always show love, especially to myself.