Tribute-Whitney Houston 1963-2012
by Donette Kruger
THE god-daughter of Aretha Franklin, and the cousin of Dionne Warwick, (remember “Walk On By” ?), Whitney Houston was the only female to have the longest ever single at Number 1 when “I Will Always Love You” lasted for 10 weeks on the charts.
All the others ahead of her on the list were males, capped by Frankie Laine in 1953 whose “I Believe” was Number One for 18 weeks!
Best known for her last feature film, “The Bodyguard” the original soundtrack of which she covered from Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”, (winning the 1994 Grammy Award for Album of that Year), this 48-year-old American singer, actress and former fashion model was born in August 1963 to John and his gospel singing wife, Cissy Houston.
At 11 years-old Whitney Houston was already playing the piano in the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, USA when her first solo was “Guide me, O thou Great Jehovah”. It is ironic that this is where her life began and where it will ended as Whitney’s private funeral service took place in the same church.
Who could calculate that the 15 year-old Whitney Houston who sang backup for Chaka Khan, Lou Rawls and Jermaine Jackson would go on and sell over 222 million records before her death at the age of 48.
Amazingly, this number is paling into insignificance as record sales for all her CDs and DVDs sky rocket roof by her distraught fans who were waiting in the wings for a comeback that was never to be.
Her appearance on MTV inspired several African-American women to follow in her footsteps. It is no mean feat that Whitney won more than 22 American Music Awards (AMA), which is more than any other female solo artist in the history of AMA.
How many know that her name was aligned with Michael Jackson and his famous “Thriller” because he was the first person to win eight American Music Award’s (AMA) in 1984, whereas Whitney went on to win a record of eight AMAs for her “I will always love you” 10 years later!
Is it any wonder that these two young individuals share the same banner of success for breaking down the colour bar? Michael Jackson smashed it down for black male artists, whereas Whitney did the same for black female artists. When black critics reasoned she was selling out because she was now an international crossover superstar, and claimed that her singing on record lacked the soul that was present during her live concerts, her retort was: “If you’re gonna have a long career, there’s a certain way to do it, and I did it that way. I am not ashamed of it.” It makes you wonder whether her critics were as successful in their own careers as this young lady? (She also released records while working with L.A. Reid, Babyface, Luther Vandross and Stevie Wonder.)
The first record label she was ever signed up to was Arista Records, headed by Clive Davis. In 2001, after the success of her album “My Love is Your Love”(1998), she renewed her contract with them for a record figure of $100m.
Whitney Houston is an icon for every woman who has ever made it in whatever field she specialised in, only to lose it all. This beautiful and talented artist, with her high cheekbones and broadest of smiles, was and will always be an inspiration and a lesson to every other female throughout the world on how to make a come-back to the hallowed portals of fame from the depths of hell.
No other female solo artist has been covered on the TV show American Idol as much as Whitney. At the last count, during its third season, she had over 1,150 songs covered out of 70,000 auditions of with “I Have Nothing” which was performed in the finals a total of six times more than any other song.
Yes, she was married and who could forget Bobby Brown? Their names have been synonymous on almost every tabloid, be it aligned with drugs or physical abuse, from marijuana to cocaine and punch-ups to separations. However, in April 2007 Whitney divorced him and was granted custody of their daughter despite Mr Brown sueing her through a California Court in an attempt to change this. Not only that, the notorious gentleman failed when he put in a claim for spousal support!
With over 10 World Tours to her credit, her last being 2009-2010 the “I look To You” tour. What a compliment then that amongst others, Leona Lewis claims that Whitney Houston has been her greatest inspiration! But she is not the only one – others who consider Whitney Houston to have been influenced their own achievements include Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncė Knowles, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Alicia Keys, P!nk, Robin Thicke, Jennifer Hudson and Destiny’s Child. Whatsmore, in 2009 the Rolling Stone magazine listed her as one of the 100 greatest singers of the rock era.
The golden horizon will obviously be littered with other very successful singers from future generations who too will no doubt claim that they were influenced by none other than this original diva of song in this century, Whitney Houston, but will they have the vocal range for R&B, Pop, Dance, Soul, Gospel? And, will their CV read: singer/ actress/ record producer/ film producer/model/ Instruments – Vocals and piano? I hardly think so. In the words of Dr. Edgar Mitchell, the famous American astronaut, as Whitney now returns to the fold we can safely say, “Houston, we have contact!”