The Los Angeles Clive Davis Grammy Gala and its attendant celebrities said a tragic farewell to Whitney Houston the other night, after the music legend was found dead in her hotel room. Whitney was undoubtedly one of the great musical talents of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The great irony is that it was Clive Davis who gave Houston her first break at the very same event when she was only in her teens.
The music business and music fans are digesting the unsettling news and coming to terms with the premature loss of one of R&B’s and popular music’s all-time greats. A diva she may have been, with a family pedigree of music-making behind her, but what an unmistakable stage presence and what a uniquely soaring virtuoso voice.
On a personal note, just two days before as I was driving in my car, right out of the blue I had the thought: “Whitney, you’ve vanished again, has it all gone downhill again, will you make it?!” Wherever those thoughts came from, they left me cold, recalling the relatively recent drug-related losses of Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse.
I was nevertheless utterly shocked when the answer I didn’t want to hear arrived the other night. When Whitney came back on the scene with the wonderfully upbeat and infectious Million Dollar Bill, it looked like she might have thrown off the ghost of Bobby Brown and the drug-fueled lifestyle associated with him. I loved that track and I’m sure, like many, hoped it was a new beginning for the troubled star.
What are we left with, now that another shining star has left the musical firmament, is a marvelous back catalogue to treasure with hits like ”I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “How Will I Know,” “The Greatest Love of All,” her record-breaking version of “I Will Always Love You” (by Dolly Parton), “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” and of course “Million Dollar Bill.” Ms Houston, we salute you for the musical treasure you leave behind and pray that you will know a greater peace. Our thoughts must surely be with her grief-stricken family.