Sunday, February 12, 2012

Thoughts On The Passing Of Whitney Houston

Photo Credit: zennie62
Even from an early age, Whitney Houston seemed destined for greatness. As the daughter of gospel great Cissy Houston, cousin of singer Dionne Warwick and goddaughter of music legend Aretha Franklin, Whitney (she only needs to be referred to by her first name) was groomed for success. Her stunning good looks were surpassed only by her immense vocal talents. Many of us remain stunned by the news that she passed away yesterday at the age of 48.

Among pop and R&B music fans of my generation, Whitney stands above all other female vocalists (only Mariah Carey and Celine Dion are even in the conversation). The purity and freshness of her voice placed her above the many others that have sought to imitate her but have never duplicated her. So it is with great sadness that the final years of her life saw the loss of her once beautiful voice replaced by a gravely, raspy tinge that was no longer the Whitney we knew and loved.

As a young man in the late 80's and early 90's during Whitney's peak years, I counted myself among her legion of fans. In fact, the high school graduation present that I requested from my parents was to go to a concert of hers with a few of my friends. The evening was enjoyable but I couldn't help but feel a little out of place in my t-shirt and shorts alongside the majority African American audience, many of whom were dressed as if they were going to a church service (I'm sure my black friends will find the humor in this.)

Whitney's well-publicized battles with addiction have been blamed for the shortness of her life, as has her tumultuous relationship with ex-husband Bobby Brown (who happens to be another favorite musical artist of mine). While we might never know all the contributing factors as to why her life was cut short, one can't help but wonder how her career (and more importantly, her life) might have turned out differently had she chosen to eschew the temptations that so gripped her later years of life.

Whitney had grown up in the church and frequently acknowledged her faith in Christ, but at some point, she began to fill voids in her life through destructive substances and relationships that could not ultimately bring her happiness. I trust that her faith in God was real but it was also apparent that the special gift that she had been given was no longer there the past few years.

Like we are all prone to do, she turned to other things besides God in order to bring her the joy in her life that only God can bring. Those that abuse alcohol and drugs are often seeking an escape from life or to dull the pain they are experiencing. None of us will know what it was that the most talented singer of my generation was trying to escape from but I hope that now, at last, she is home and free of pain.

In her honor, I've posted the video below which contains Whitney's first ever national television appearance back in 1985. It was apparent even then that she would be a star as she sings the ballad "Home" from The Wiz.

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