The content of this tribute was conceived in the wake of Whitney Houston‘s passing, yet the plausibility of publishing withered with each keystroke. For, despite being days divided from the her tragic demise, there remained a distinct sense of the “unreal” about the very real silencing of The Voice.
Shocking on many a front, I ironically learned of Whitney’s death on That Grape Juice.
As with all award show windows, the lead-up to Clive Davis’ Pre-Grammy Gala 2012 saw all hands on deck amongst the TGJ team. Hence, already in place on the afternoon of February 11th 2012 was a “Hot Shots” draft for Houston’s grand arrival – as had been routine for years prior.
In London and resting up ahead of night-through-morning carpet coverage, I could not conceive the idea that my next waking moment would bring with it news that The Voice was no more. Nor could I ever fathom the fact that the said “Hot Shot” post would instead be published as “Whitney Houston Passes Away At 48”.
The actions and events leading up to Whitney’s death have been debated in earnest since – with many, including yours truly, forced to confront facts that were all-too-willingly swept under the rug in hope of her eventual recovery. Such a reality is a harsh and hard pill to swallow, but one now easier to digest with the water of time and reflection.
Like the demise of Michael Jackson, Houston’s passing remains a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. Yet, again like the King Of Pop, her tale stands as one of the most pronounced and celebrated realizations of the American Dream.
For, though blessed with a voice that was both alien and otherworldly, the late star’s rise wasn’t without its challenges. Introduced in an era which saw few Black or female acts ride high on the charts, Houston – in shattering such ceilings – would still face backlash. Ironically, the mass of this critique stemmed from her “own people” – with many Afro-Americans christening her sound “white washed Pop”. Yet with steely resilience, the singer charged on creating a sound and success narrative that would open the doors for many of today’s megastars such as Beyonce.
Whitney was deemed a “diva” for many reasons; yet in more ways than one, her voice was more of a diva than she could ever be. Put simply, it demanded a brand and strand of respect that was almost ethereal. And that, for me, is what really makes her the legend she is and forever will be.
So it’s with much sincerity that I thank those who brought her music into my world, as well as those who made it possible to see her perform in person prior to her passing. For, as a true lover of music and showmanship, there is nothing that can substitute those experiences.
Greatness doesn’t die, it lives on and inspires. The contributions Whitney Houston made to music (and the millions of lives she touched with hers) are ever-enduring. It’s this fact, one year later, that helps raise the widest of smiles.
Whitney Elizabeth Houston
1963 – Forever