Monday, February 13, 2012

Requiem for the Songstress

Divine. Duchess.Delightful. Diva! The accolades and admissions of Whitney Houston's talent have flowed like a mighty river ever since the news of her untimely death last Saturday. As with all striking deaths, it was another one of those "remember where you were" moments that have become all to familiar to myself. Whether it was Princess Diana, Michael Jackson and now Whitney, remembering such markers are constant reminders that each of us is just passing through and we should live life to the fullest because we don't know when the final curtain call will come. When she burst on the music scene some two decades ago, I took notice that her silky yet powerful vocals would be something to watch. The song that sealed the deal for me was her rendition of "The Greatest Love of All" which had already been a favorite of mine since I first heard it sang by George Benson from the soundtrack of the Muhammad Ali bio. I was totally inspired by Benson's version, but Houston took the lyrics to new heights and meaning for me personally. At that time I didn't realize that there was so much more to come from this artist that I could have ever imagined. Her artistry and god given talent were true gifts that no one can doubt. Who would have thought that Houston singing the Star Spangle Banner could have been sung as to ignite a nation into a frenzy of pride. Or that she could take a country laden Ballard written by Dolly Parton and craft it into one of her signature tour de force pieces that she will always be remembered for. It is her trailblazing of being a cultural crossover, record sales, successful tours and mentor ship to younger artist that should be the centerpiece of her narrative. But as we prepare for all aspects of her life to be dissected, examined and evaluated by all who do that for a living and otherwise. Ultimately at the basic core of this individual is the fact that she was a human being whom had frailties which bedeviled her to the end. "Being Whitney" had pitfalls and pressures that although often played out publicly. No matter the madness I believe that her public was always wishing the best for her. As I reflect over her catalog of music, some of it seem almost prophetic to some degree. The song "Didn't we Almost Have it all," come to my mind as I pondered, "didn't she have it all?" However despite her public persona she alluded to the fact that she didn't always have it all as I had perceived. In her interviews she didn't blink at the fact that she had addiction issues and barriers that had caused her problems. I know all too well about how getting that monkey off your back and keeping it off your back can be challenging. I've never had to be in treatment facility, but sought professionals to assess my personal situation thusly creating a corrective course of action. I had such high hopes that Houston would fulfill the anthem she sang in 2009, "know the strength, even though she had stumbled, but did not crumble." Secretary of State Clinton was chided for her statement that "America has a drug problem." Folks said that she shouldn't have said that about the country even as the nation continues to face prescription drug over use, illicit drugs have created micro war zones in cities and the prisons are overcrowded from offenders. When will we own up to the fact that we do have drug dilemma and acknowledge that the war on drugs has been a colossal failure to say the least. While I mourn with the rest of global village on Miss Houston's passing, it is the musical legacy she has left that will allow her to always live in my heart and soul. Maybe now you will discover the light of serenity and afterglow of peace that you so deserved while with us. Our condolences to her daughter and extended family. She will truly be missed... 

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