When I first heard Whitney Houston in 1985, my ears picked up the smooth power of her young vocals. Without even looking, I could hear that voice had choir training. When I first saw Whitney Houston, her beauty threw everything out of context. Supermodels don’t sing in choirs. But the daughter of gospel mainstay, Cissy Houston, was a beautiful girl with a voice strong enough to raise the roof even in God’s house. Me and the world both had never seen or heard anything like her. And upon her death, I will fall back on the old saw of ‘often imitated, never duplicated’ to sum up Ms. Houston’s musical legacy.
The decline from the Olympian heights of her beginnings was slow at first and picked up ramming speed with the addition of Bobby Brown to her life. By all accounts, this was a toxic relationship that played out in the tabloids and on TV with “Being Bobby Brown”. As if anyone would have cared if Brown wasn’t Mr. Whitney Houston. A disastrous interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer exposed the drug fueled Whitney as an out-of-control diva with frightening clarity. This is not the memory that stands out for me today.
It is no shame Houston was unable to regain her lofty status. It was a totally unrealistic goal and patently unfair to measure her future by a once-in-a-lifetime past. No one had ever done what she did and given the current state of the record industry, no one ever will again. Whitney Houston was a once in a generation combination of talent and beauty and I feel fortunate to have experienced it in her lifetime. This is the Whitney Houston I fell in love with.
by Lem T. Utu