Saturday, February 11, 2012

So Emotional: A Personal Essay on the Life & Death of Whitney Houston

With the sad news of the death of singing superstar Whitney Houston,  I just felt the need to reflect on what she meant to me...

Her incredible talent, energy and breath-taking beauty were an inspiration to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Bursting onto the scene in the mid-1980s, her angelic voice and supermodel looks enthralled the planet, and she scored hit after hit after hit. No matter if she was singing a soul-stirring ballad or a dance floor anthem, she put everything into her performances. For a long period of years in the 80s and 90s, she was one of the most popular and top-selling recording artists.

When she was hit by the acting bug, Hollywood beckoned, banking on her gorgeous looks and incredible singing talent to carry her through a movie. In 1992, she hit the big time with the film The Bodyguard co-starring Oscar winner Kevin Costner. The movie was a smash hit, and Houston's recording of the Dolly Parton standard "I Will Always Love You" cemented her position as one of the world's most talented and beloved singers. The song topped the charts in practically every country in the world, winning her even more accolades and awards.

She certainly had the pedigree for singing greatness, being the cousin of singing legend Dionne Warwick and the god-daughter to the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. Her mother Cissy Houston was also a well-known and highly-respected singer.

The singer began experiencing career setbacks in the late-90s, and she became the fodder for the tabloids with her tempestuous relationship with former New Edition bad boy singer Bobby Brown. She stuck by Brown during his many run-ins with the law and jail sentences, even as she drew great criticism. Speculation of her drug use was rampant, as she exhibited odd behavior in public. Her looks began to suffer, and her voice, once spectacular and pristine, began to crack and break. Her concert performances, once a top international draw, began to dry up as well.

However it will be discovered how she died, I will prefer to keep my memories of a happy, beautiful and amazing Whitney Houston in my mind. Whenever I was feeling a little depressed or sad about something, all I had to do was listen to one of her songs such as "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" or "How Will I Know?" and my sadness would completely disappear for those three minutes. Listening to those songs right now won't make me happy, I'm afraid. They will just remind me of what the world has lost at a far too young age. In time, however, I will remember just how happy those songs made me, and this will be her great legacy to the world. Goodbye, Whitney... I will always love you...

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