A Tribute to Whitney Houston by Margoh Channing
“God gave me a voice to sing with, and when you have that, what other gimmick is there?” –Whitney Houston
Quiet please, there’s a lady on stage, she may not be the latest rage, but she’s singing and she means it, and she deserves a little silence– Peter Allen
It’s hard to believe that we’ve lost another icon at such a young age! Every decade has had their fair share of tragedies. The list from movie stars like Carole Lombard, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood and Heath Ledger to music legends like Judy Garland, Jimi Hendrix, Cass Elliott, Janis Joplin, Karen Carpenter, Minnie Ripperton, Jeff Buckley, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and now Whitney Houston makes you want to pop the cork and party because you just never know…
There is no doubt that Whitney Houston had one of the greatest voices we’ve known. Her voice and music transcended genres and broke barriers for artists that followed. She was R&B, she was Pop, she was Dance, she was Adult Contemporary, she was Gospel. Whitney had the power to touch people’s lives and she did that in so many ways.
Of course, when the talent is so big like that of Whitney, Judy Garland or Michael Jackson the isolation seems to take a hold of their talent. They expose and give so much of the best of themselves to us at their heights but then the years pass, their popularity wanes and sometimes, unthinkably, the same people that held them so high on a pedestal turn on them. We say that we just want them to pull through and to give us what we used to hear. The reality is no one can sustain the same voice they had when they are twenty years old. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that often they need to self medicate to give what is left.
After I learned of Whitney’s death I started watching a lot of video footage from her 2010 tour – the one that the critics ripped apart in Australia. No she was not at her best and yes I might have been sad and disappointed were I in the audience but I would never dream of jeering, walking out or asking for my money back. How could I? She was on the stage alone trying to give what she had left through a catalog of music containing a shared history for the artist and the audience. What more can we ask for? None of us are perfect and life is far too short to be upset by an artist trying their best to entertain us.
I was writing a tribute to Whitney but I guess the shock of losing such a great voice still hasn’t sunk in. I keep thinking that as human beings we are all responsible for the outcomes of others lives. Although we have no stake in the personal lives of our icons, it seems as much as our dreams, hopes, joy and happiness build them up to mythic proportions our disappointments, expectations and judgment hit harder and the results can be unbearably painful. We’ll never know what impact that had on her but in the brief glimpse into her private life we got on her former husband “BObbeee”’ s television show, in my opinion, showcased a woman who was disillusioned with her fame and didn’t want to sing for anyone anymore.
When these things happen it’s hard to figure out what she couldn’t get over but when we think of our own lives, families, friends…we know what we can’t get over and maybe that helps us to understand her a little better. Whitney was a human being who happened to sing and sing better than anyone of her time. We are lucky to have shared in that gift and for the legacy she leaves – for that we should simply say – Thank you, Whitney…
Everybody’s searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me
I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all
By MargOH! Channing
*Big kisses to my hubby Jeff Catlow-Shea for his thoughts and contribution to this