I was born in 1984, now for anyone who’s younger than me, you have to understand that this was a hot time for music. MTV still played videos, HBO was hip and I was adorable. I have young parents and with them come friends and relatives who are of equal or lesser age. This provided a lot of pop music in my younger days. One musician stuck out: Whitney Houston.
My mom’s friend, Linny, introduced me to Whitney. We would ride around in her red Honda Prelude, jamming to Whitney and talking about the future. She kept conversation open and I told on her when she ran red lights.
Dance parties were a regular occurrence. My mom, my sister and people like my Aunt Linny would all gather and we would shake our asses. Hot messes? Maybe. Fun? Definitely.
Everything was about Whitney Houston. I listened to her music, watched her on TV and named my African American Barbie after her. My goal: Become a guest on The Mickey Mouse Club and meet Whitney Houston.
As time went on, things didn’t change. The early 90s were about Whitney. Of course, there was room for incorporating Mariah Carey, Wilson Phillips and Amy Grant. But queen of the castle, Ms. Houston. She was pretty, sounded good and, hell, her videos were SPECTACULAR.
I used to emulate them all the time. I performed at family parties. My cousin, Jess, and I would stand on our Pop-Pop’s fireplace and tell everyone to watch (much like Sophia-Grace and Rosie), then we’d sing “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” (my favorite song of all time) until someone would tell us “that’s enough” and we’d go eat.
When the Body Guard came out, I was bummed. I wasn’t allowed to go see it. “R” ratings kept me at bay. Luckily, VH1 was around and I got my fill from that and from our copy of the cassette tape.
Remember the 1994 Olympics? I do. The best rendition of the Star Spangled Banner since the day it was written at Fort McHenry. Damn right.
Whitney was there when I was scared too. My mom became horribly ill one night when I was 12. She had gull stones and was buckled over in pain. My sister, Erin, 10 at the time, and I were frightened. Our dad came into the room and said “Stay put. I have to take mom to the hospital.” So we did. It just happened to be the night when the remake of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella was on The Wonderful World of Disney. She and Brandy kept our hearts full of hope and joy.
Then Whitney slipped.
After doing the movies and the whole Bobby Brown thing… I just kept the old tunes on repeat. No room for the hot mess she had become.
I was hopeful a couple of years ago when Whitney went on Oprah and told her that not only was she clean, she was also going on tour. She lied. It was short lived. I was angry. No one lies to Oprah (unless you are trying to sell a book).
I wish I could say I was surprised by her passing. I wish I could cry. Unfortunately, I have little to no sympathy for someone who takes their life and throws it away so destructively. She had it all and dumped on it. I feel sorry for her daughter, have for a while. I feel bad for her family and fans. I hope that people look at her short life and remember to stay away from drugs and to use their talents to full potential.
I will say that Whitney was one of the people who inspired me to reach for the stars and grab. I do it every day and will continue to do so. I hope that if I ever have nieces or nephews or well behaved dogs of my own that I can pick them up in a 1984 Honda Prelude and rock out to some Whitney Houston… Of course, this will have to occur in downtown Wilmington, DE. The only place to relive the memories.
RIP Whitney Houston. You will be missed.