Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Voice: My Tribute to Whitney

This was originally supposedly to be written the day of her passing, for the words were flowing and heartfelt as my persistent tears. But to save you from my literary onslaught, I waited until now. Yes, I love her that much...

Whitney Houston is my second favorite vocalist.

I remember when I made that declaration three years ago... A friend asked me who are the top three singers. I rattled them off, without hesitation. He was shocked by my quick response, but I already had my lifetime and experiences up to that point to answer honestly.

Number one was Phyllis Hyman. No surprise, right? My admiration for her is evident if you're a visitor to my blog, house, car and listener/witness of my random conversations.*__*

The third was Dame Shirley Bassey. If you knew the many nights I have spent trying to emulate her as I sung along to "Goldfinger", you would probably tell me to give it a rest, and let the Dame do what only she could do.*__~

That's pretty much what I was also told fourteen years ago as I sung my heart out to Whitney's "Saving All My Love For You". Only this time I responded, "I'm not trying to be like her."

No one can.

But how we all tried!

As it should be... Can YOU say four octaves?! And let's briefly touch on that, shutting the haters down once and for ALL! Many have discredited her, saying she had (gosh I hate speaking in past tense) only three.

Heffas, please!

ANYWAYS, Whitney captivated us all with her God-given gift, her first solo cover with her first and last name prominently below her picture. Worldwide success and fans would soon follow. Believe it or not, that success tripled upon her sophomore release. Ironically, the title of her multi-platinum second CD cassette (this was the 80s, ya'll, when cassettes soon replaced records LOL) was also the deciding factor in making Ms. Houston known mononymously.


All you had to do was to say that name, and people would say, "She can sing!" So it was sad during the final years of her life the antithesis was proclaimed if you uttered just the first syllable!

Wow, people are cruel and two-faced. Not to mention hypocritical. I'm not saying Whitney didn't have her problems, but let's not undermine this woman's achievements. And yes, there are M-A-N-Y, ok?! *snapping my fingers*

The first Black woman to be on the cover of Seventeen!#gorgeous

First artist to have consecutive seven #1 singles!#celebrated

The most awarded woman of all time!#respected

With many more accolades that will take all day to write!#accomplished

And the best rendition of the Star Spangled Banner of all time!#incomparable

The American National Anthem was a single on the Pop charts, ya'll!

Yes, it was the peak of Whitney's career, or so we thought: Here comes The Bodyguard, and her version of Dolly Parton's simple tribute to a fleetind but special love, "I Will Always Love You".

Which made it the best selling movie soundtrack of all time! W-O-W!#legendary *__*

I can still remember my seventh grade American history teacher, Mr. Franklin, leaning back in his chair as Whitney opened her eyes to belt out the climatic finish. Yes, that voice takes you far away from all of your troubles and cares in the world!

Then there was Whitney's decline.

It happens to every one, at some point in our lives. Whether it be career, money or health-wise, we all have to face the inevitable fall (no pun intended, but painfully true nevertheless) in our lives. I just didn't expect her fall to be so epic. Still, I N-E-V-E-R made fun of Whitney, and I always vehemently stood up for her. We're both human, and have vices. I dealt with mine privately. She being famous left her no choice but to battled hers publicly.

And it was heartbreaking to see.

Just days before incessant news coverage and random people detailing the Newark, NJ native's life and death, there were pictures of her leaving a nightclub. My honest to God first thoughts upon seeing the photos were, "Oh, Whitney..." And that's all I could say. I still don't know what to say. Premonitions, insights and hindsight of "the inevitable" were/are the topic of conversation. Some theories are plausible, some nonsensical.

Yet the indisputable fact is Whitney's gone. And I was floored upon hearing the news... On February 11th, I went to see "Red Tails" (write up to follow). Afterwards, me, my Mommy, Jess and Aunt Cheryl went to Red Lobster. It was then that my aunt took a call, her mouth open in horror.

Only a death notice can put that look on anyone's face. We all knew it, and held our breath.

The two seconds that followed we found out that the wait for a table was an hour and that The Prom Queen of Soul was gone. I immediately screamed out it was a sick hoax, but a gentlemen sadly shook his head. I ran out, tears falling. Too emotional to speak, all I did was listen to/read about celebrities speak on their fallen colleague.

Only one person's view struck a chord, probably because I was thinking the same thing. Master P presented a very thoughtful analysis of the entire situation, and I'm obliged to agree with him on all points.

We truly do need to appreciate our loved ones while they are here, ya'll.

In addition, Bobby Brown is not to blame.

Yes, you read correctly, he is not. Sometimes, two good people can just be bad for one another. I think that was the Houston/Brown case. Regardless of how much love is there, respect and responsibility have to be a part of the foundation as well. And they figured out it wasn't, and moved on. As should we (given it wasn't our business in the first place). Live and learn.

(Besides, you k-n-o-w you was rockin' out with Bobby to "Girl Next Door", too!;)

Well, I don't know why I felt such a connection to her. Maybe it was the joy of seeing a woman whom looked like me singing joyfully on colorful sets about having a love to cut a rug to.

"I Wanna Dance With Somebody" is still the jam!

Or maybe as an innocent seven year old clueless to the sass and bold approach she used to express her involvement with another woman's husband. (Realized when I was older what she was singing about! LOL!)

Although I never played second fiddle (high school principal clarinetist here, ok?*__*), "Saving All My Love For You" is still a classic.

Yet the one song that remains number one in my book has a video of her singing the song in a stadium. With her band rockin' O-U-T! And while we all notice the stiff and semi-off rhythm movements, that fierce backwards model walk Whitney does upon singing the chorus for a second time makes up for it! And I get "So Emotional" about it!!!

Oh, pun so intended!

Yes, I love Whitney!

There are many who have the range, many who have the power, and many who have honey-coated singing voices; Whitney had it all, not to mention dazzling control of melisma and vibrato. But I really loved the fact that Nippy (as her family, loved ones and fans affectionately called her) didn't "over-sing". That's right, over-sing: employing too much of technique(s) that destroy the integrity of the performance just to showcase ability.

(Please don't ask me to embarrass some people!;)

Nope. Whitney E. Houston didn't go there! She had perfect control and when she opened her mouth to sing it was the voice of an angel!

With that heavenly talent she could stand in the middle of a stage and just sing, leaving the spectators in awe. No fancy costumes (or lack thereof), no dance steps, no pyrotechnics, no grand stage displays. Just the voice.

So despite Oprah's feisty claims that she was the first to declare Whitney's pipes as the definitive, that's why she was dubbed "The Voice" years ago. But I comically understand Oprah's proclamation: It's Whitney we're talkin' 'bout!;)

And she will forever remain The Voice. In my lifetime and generations before, I've yet to see or hear a woman so influential and responsible for setting the standard for singing. And for that feat alone, her self-admitted struggles with alcohol and drugs shouldn't change that.

Matter of fact, it doesn't: Whitney Houston, even with the loss 1.5 octaves, could still sing the pants off several substance-free singers!

(Again, please don't ask me to name any!;)

That's how good of a singer she was!

And while it hurts that we'll never hear that melodic voice singing live again, the blessing that the Lord gave us for forty eight years is back in His house! That silky powerhouse voice has gone on to sing with the heaven's choir!

The Lord spared her from dealing with anymore atrocities on this earth. And thankfully, she didn't see the filth and vitriolic messages left on media blogs.

I wonder do trolls know that their judgment day is coming, too...

Hate and jealously aside, the homecoming service was a proper send off to the Lord. And that's all that matters. She's home. And knowing that, I can appreciate her songs in peace, like before. Only with a new partner...

Because the media FINALLY released Whitney's classic videos from the vault, Kylie is a fan, dancing in time with a fierceness unmatched! She also holds her hairbrush beside me as we amateurishly belt out the hits.

Yes, I still use my hairbrush as my microphone, too.#notashamed

Rest easy, Queen Whitney...