[I have decided this week to re-post some of my work from my old blog The Dodson Citizen. Yesterday’s post talked about Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up”; this second post is a tribute to Whitney Houston after her death three years ago. I hope you enjoy it.]
I did not want to write about my feelings on the passing of Whitney Houston; even upon hearing the news of her death, the urge to write down a few words here was overwhelming. I resisted, letting the many tributes on Facebook and Twitter give voice to how I, and many others, were feeling about the loss of one of the greatest singers to ever hold a microphone.
But now that I have given myself time to think more about it, I decided that I would go ahead anyway.
Like many, I became familiar with Whitney through her singing career. I was in college when “You Give Good Love” hit R&B radio, and the most singular thing I took away from that song was the voice. Oh, what a voice she had. When she sang, you paid attention. It was a bit later that I saw how beautiful she was—she had already been modeling before her singing career blossomed—and it was easy to see why. As she came to dominate pop music with her voice and looks, it seemed like she was headed for a long, amazing career. Through the mid 80s to the mid- to late 90s, she sold tons of records, had hit after hit, and even had a movie career going.
Whatever her demons were in turning to drugs, and becoming addicted, you still rooted for Whitney because of her voice. But even then, drugs and her lifestyle took their toll on her amazing instrument, so much so that in the last decade-plus, she didn’t sound like herself. The regal, majestic power her voice had was diminished. You wonder if time would have done the same thing, but we will never know. And now with her death, that voice is stilled.
She has left us a great musical legacy, full of high points and iconic moments. There have been a few memorable renditions of the Star Spangled Banner, but only one that I know of that was #1 on the Billboard pop charts. That version of the national anthem, performed at Super Bowl XXV, is still held as the gold standard. Her version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” reigns as the biggest-selling hit of all time. You knew when you first heard it that it was special-the song beginning with nothing but her voice.
And it is that voice that I will remember, long after all the tributes, the dissection of her life and the downward spiral have all been talked and analyzed to death. Rest in peace or relax in paradise, Whitney Houston. Go get in your spot among the choir of angels; your voice here on earth may have deteriorated, but up in heaven it will sound much like it did when you started your career.
Kind of like how she sounds in this song (one of my favorites, by the way):