Time and death are two things that we all have a hard time coming to grips with no matter how old we get. Time moves on and death happens all around us. Some of us manage to find our way to deal by recognizing that we all leave our “mark” on this Earth by the people that we affect.
Some of us are blessed with certain gifts that allow for us to make that impression upon others in ways that few others ever could. Whitney Houston was one of those people and her impact upon this world was nothing less than a crater. She was gorgeous beyond belief and her look and sound defined the epitome of a soul diva to a level that few or no other singers (much less soul singers) can ever compare to.
I remember listening to Whitney’s early music before the movie The Bodyguard came out and hearing people complain about how “soft” or “soulless” her pop music was for “black” people. The black community all over the States would be so divided about whether or not they liked her or even considered her to be a soul singer.
No one ever denied that she had a heavenly voice, but they questioned the pop-flavored hits of her early career. Then there was The Bodyguard Soundtrack. For an artist who had already had numerous hits and sold millions of albums, that movie sent her into the stratosphere. Her rendition of “I Will Always Love You” was just so beyond epic that she essentially didn’t have to record another song ever. It was her Purple Rain essentially, because the movie and the soundtrack simply dominated that entire year.
I remember watching that movie and saying what every man said, regardless of age or race: “Kevin Costner is one lucky guy!”
It was amazing to watch that movie and realize that although Whitney had not done a major film role before that point, she could still dominate a movie like that. Her presence, her role, her voice simply oozed throughout that movie and cemented her in WORLD, much less American, history. I mean honestly…would it have mattered who played Kevin Costner’s role in that movie?
Then there was the soundtrack to end all soundtracks. Get this, people. She won three Grammys, eight American Music Awards, and 11 Billboard Music Awards for that album alone! Imagine recording one piece of work that was so impactful on the industry that it eclipses what most artist could do in a career in one fell swoop. This album has sold upwards 44 million copies and remains to this day one of the greatest of all time.
Still, I remember watching this movie and amidst the amazing music it featured, there was one major question that everyone had. Was Whitney acting, or was that huge ego really a part of her persona? America had seen her as a spotless darling for so long that even thinking of her like this seemed a sin.
Then there was her marriage to Bobby Brown. Many feel as if this was her downfall, while those close to her say that Bobby was merely an enabler of what was already there and already a problem.
Despite her own demons and problems, Whitney loved people, loved children, and always was a giver. With scores of charity works throughout her career, she still managed to assure that her mark on this Earth was not just her art, but her deeds and service to her fellow man.