My husband and I were watching Supernatural on our DVR last night when he randomly picked up his iPad to look up something. His home page is MSN. While watching the show, I hear my husband say “Oh my God” in a way that let’s me know something really sad and surprising has just happened. He passes me his iPad and on the top of the screen in a huge font it reads:
WHITNEY HOUSTON DEAD AT 48.
I couldn’t believe it. Well, after her battle with addiction over the years I could believe it, but I was still shocked. It was the same way I felt when I heard Michael Jackson has passed away. We finished watching Supernatural (which only had about 8-10 minutes left) and then turned on the news channels to watch the coverage. At this point, she had only been gone about 3 hours. It was so hard to fathom.
Growing up in the 80s as a really young kid, there were two female recording artists that were the biggest and the best and my friends and I had all their albums and knew all their songs….Madonna and Whitney Houston. At that time in your life when you’re in grade school and heading into high school in the late 80s, I can hear Whitney Houston songs and equate them to certain moments in my life…my first school dance, the first boy who asked me to dance, sleep overs at friends houses, summers at the shore. I remember the first time I heard a Whitney Houston song off her first self titled album. It was “Saving All My Love for You” and I remember thinking I have never heard a voice like that in my life. The more her music permeated into our everyday lives, the more she was on TV. You saw interviews with her where she came across as the kind of person you would love to grab a cup of tea with and sit down talk about whatever. She was warm, friendly, humble, and gracious. A real class act.
I think most people remember Whitney Houston for three magical songs (although her career spawned multiple hits)….”I Will Always Love You”, “One Moment in Time”, and “The Star Spangled Banner.” I don’t know one person who when they hear the name “Whitney Houston” doesn’t say something like “Wow, she still has the greatest rendition of the National Anthem I have ever heard.” I also know people who are still annoyed that her “One Moment in Time” has been replaced by some Jennifer Hudson song that doesn’t even come close. But since “The Bodyguard” is one of the Top 10 selling albums of all time, most people remember her remake of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” It still moves me to tears….especially today.
I know Ms. Houston had her struggles the last several years and a very difficult marriage to Bobby Brown. I don’t want to get into that but all I want to say is that I was heartbroken for her because I’m sure that time in her life, while happy at some points, wasn’t all she had hoped for.
People may say, “why do you get so upset when a musician or actor dies? It’s no sadder than anyone else and it’s not like you knew the person.” That is true. And I don’t get upset when every celebrity passes away. When Amy Winehouse died, my first thought was “there’s a surprise.” I don’t mean that to sound cold, it’s just that her music has no connection for me. I’m sure her fans were devastated by the news. And it goes without saying that you pray for her family and friends when something that tragic happens. The reason a death like Whitney Houston hits me so hard is that her music juxtaposes my life in so many ways. Like I mentioned before, many big moments from my youth, I can attach to one of her songs. When I hear that certain song, it brings me back to that time. So in a way, she and I did have a personal connection. And I think when you speak of an icon in an industry like Whitney Houston was in hers, you will find many more people with stories like mine because she touched so many lives that she never even knew.
I want to extend my deepest condolences, sympathies, and prayers to her daughter Bobbi Kristina, her mother Cissy, and all her family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.
We’ve lost an angel down here on Earth. But Heaven has gained a new one. May you finally find the peace and happiness you deserve!