There’s a saying that says that only you and God knows how your journey of this crazy thing we call “life” is going to end.
The sudden death of one of my childhood heroes, Whitney Houston, definitely rings that statement true.
Like the rest of the world, I was familiar with her amazing rise and her even more amazing fall from what seemed to be a graceful rise from a cute choir girl at East Orange, NJ’s New Hope Baptist Church to one of the biggest crossover phenomenons of the latter 20th century.
And like the rest of the world, my heart stopped upon hearing news that this great lady of song had passed away.
Right away, my memories crept up on me and videos and songs, some I hadn’t listened to in a while, began to re-conjure up again and I remember being 5, 6, 7 years old singing along to Whitney’s famous songs, thinking I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. Only difference is my family wasn’t famous so I wasn’t going to have it easy and just gave it up.
Whether you view her life story or even her music catalog, you can’t deny that Whitney Houston in her prime was one of the greatest vocalists to ever emerge. She constantly sung songs without even trying, effortlessly tugging at your heart strings while she sang something of relation to your own life.
To me, the fact that Whitney’s first major singing debut was singing a gospel song and her last performance was of her singing a gospel song – if barely containing the same voice that used to overpower all others for 20 of her 35 years as a professional recording artist (including performing background for the likes of Chaka Khan, her mother and Lou Rawls) – was a fitting end to what had been a remarkable journey.
If I have to remember Whitney, it won’t be for her downfall from grace that included drug addiction, alcoholism, a volatile marriage and understandable pressures for just being Whitney Houston, but it would be for the voice that used to cut people like glass, the grace she displayed onstage that was even more divine than that of Diana Ross or much like it, and the style that people have since imitated but can’t quite duplicate.
For me my memory would be her onstage in such a commanding presence either telling people of the “greatest love of all” or “one moment in time” or saying “it’s not right but it’s okay” or “my love is your love” or, especially, “I will always love you”. And maybe that’s how it should be.
So to Whitney, I just want you to know that we will always love you…and we’ll miss you. Thanks and rest in peace.