While it’s been more than two years since the world lost Michael Jackson, it’s still difficult wrapping my brain around that fact. There are still days when I say out loud “Michael Jackson is dead.”
I’m now left with my mouth hanging open yet again in disbelief at the news of singer Whitney Houston passing at the young age of 48.
You are hard pressed to name another singer that has the vocal ability of Whitney. I’ve heard many others try to imitate her, and very few have come close to matching her range and ability.
While the last few years of her life were turbulent, I choose to remember the Whitney that made Dolly Parton millions with her rendition of I Will Always Love You . While written and originally sung by Parton in the 70s, it would be Whitney who took it to another level in the 90s, making it a number one record that stayed on the charts in that position for 15 weeks.
The song appeared on the soundtrack for the movie The Bodyguard in which Whitney not only starred in, but provided the majority of music. The Bodyguard soundtrack spent 20 weeks at number, was certified 17x platinum, was the first album to sell more than 1 million records in a single week. To date, it has sold more than 44 million copies world-wide, making it the best-selling soundtrack of all time.
Whitney broke countless records – when her first album was released in 1985, it was the best-selling record by a female artist. Her second album, Whitney, would make her the first female EVER to debut at number one on Billboard. She also was only the artist to chart seven-consecutive number one singles.
I remember the Whitney Houston of the 80s that had me dancing around my house singing I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me). Who can forget that big hair and her two-step dance moves (I love the two-step!)
The year was 1985 and I’m in the fifth grade. That year, the inspirational Greatest Love of All was just one of Whitney’s hits – and my favorite. For some reason, I had it in my mind it would be a good idea to sing it at the school talent show. I don’t remember much, outside of being really nervous and other classmates being on stage with me.
Needless to say, that was the first (and last “official”) time I sung in front of an audience.
When Saving All My Love For You was released, my sister and I would go back and forth on what she was singing in one particular line. The line was, “I got to get ready,” but I swore up and down she was saying “I got to get petty.” Makes absolute no sense at all, but I just knew what I heard!
Thank God for the Internet sites where we can now look up song lyrics.
The other disagreement my sister and I always had was who was better, Whitney or Janet Jackson. There wasn’t a thing my sister could say to convince me that Whitney was a better talent than Janet. Of course I see the error of my ways now, but I guess as a young child I related to Janet more than I did Whitney.
It’s a blessing that Whitney left us with a legacy of timeless music that will endure long after the story of her death fades from the headlines.
Smokey Robinson said it best on CNN last night: “She is one of the greatest voices in the history of music.”
Thank you Whitney Elizabeth Houston, for sharing with the world your God-given talent – which I knew was beyond measure, but I didn’t fully appreciate until this very moment, when your voice was silenced by death.
May you be remembered more for what you gave us vocally and less for the trials and tribulations you faced throughout your life.