Whitney Houston, 1963-2012

Listening to ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’, it becomes almost impossible not to momentarily wish that Whitney Houston had never entered the big, bad world of music. Her features are angelic, her smile is captivating, and one begin to wonder if such a delicate creature was destined to be a pop-megastar. So I sit, with my finger tapping along innocently and out of sync, when it hits me, dead-centre between the eyes: a voice so smooth, so sultry and so very powerful. I believe every word, she really does want “a man to take her hand” and by the end of the song, so do I.  You can’t help but sing along word for word, long before the chorus has even arrived. Whitney Houston sings like no other. With six Grammy awards and seven consecutive number one hits including ‘How Will I know’, ‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go’ and ‘Saving All My Love for You’,  she would go on to sell close to 200 million albums in a career that spanned over three decades. Whitney became the golden girl of Pop in the 80’s and early 90’s and would later become known simply as “The Voice.” Her incredible rendition of America’s National Anthem in 1991 has become a YouTube hit as she hits each note with elegance, ease and complete confidence. After her debut album Whitney sold over 20 million copies worldwide an onslaught of public appearances, endorsements and sell-out tours would follow. Whitney became a legend even before her untimely death just one day before she was set to appear at the 54th Grammy awards on Sunday. Of course, all of these monumental achievements are echoed by her prolific drug use and unfortunate marriage to MC Hammer wannabe Bobby Brown.  She quickly became the media’s poster girl for drug addiction and her fall from grace was met by salivating journalists who needed to pay their rent on time. To view Whitney in this light seems reductive. Her memory as one of the greatest singers of all time will live on with her millions of fans globally. Who can forget her appearance in The Bodyguard (which grossed over $400 million) , as she opened our eyes to the possibility of love and of course produced one of the best-selling and most celebrated singles of the twnenieth century, ‘I Will Always Love You’. The words alone conjure up memories of past and present relationships in ways the youth of today will only comprehend if  compared to Adele’s ‘Someone like You’.  Whitney passed away in her Beverly Hills hotel on Saturday 11th of February the night before she was due to attend the Grammys. Her memory was celebrated with a chilling performance by Jennifer Hudson and a tribute prayer led by rapper LL Cool J who wanted to give Whitney “the appreciation, the love, the respect she deserves.” Tweets also flooded in moments after news of her death broke, with her long-time friend Mariah Carey tweeting “Heartbroken and in tears over the death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston,” while Whitney’s Godmother the legendary Aretha Franklin wrote “ I just can’t talk about it right now. It’s so stunning and unbelievable.”  The cause of death is still unknown as police along with an eager world audience await a toxicology report. It sometimes takes the death of a music giant to realise the impact they had on the world. Whitney Houston was an institution and paved the way for countless others. Her legacy will remain just as powerful as her golden voice while her achievements can never be forgotten.