There are events in life that leave one gasping for air. Mine unquestionable include the death of Michael Jackson and now, Whitney Houston. I have never met either of them, seen them perform live, or followed their careers with religious fervor. But thanks to the deep-pocket music industry machines these artists were as big a part of my life as a classmate or cousin. They were ever-present, audibly and visually, in good times and bad. When they fell, I felt it.
If we are honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge that Michael and Whitney left us before their passing. Michael slowly moved away from his own likeness. ‘A response to societal or perhaps industry pressures, I don’t know. He reported that it was an illness. Moral and legal issues tarnished his reputation. At 50 years old he still wanted to give us more by means of a world tour that would challenge a younger man.
Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012)
The extraordinary talent of Whitney Houston mesmerized us. Her angelic voice made us feel that we could be more than we thought we could be when we sang along with her. When we learned that the pop diva had demons just beyond the glitz and glamour some turned their backs. I admit to being disappointed with her choices. Perhaps I was even a bit angry with her for destroying what I and many others considered a public trust. A trust rooted in the girl of humble means who done good and gave us all hope that the dream of success could be our reality if we just work hard enough, if we were just talented enough, if the cards just fell in the right place. If we are honest, we will admit that when her troubles pulled her away from us we loss not only a tremendous talent in the person of Whitney but also belief in our dreams being within our own grasp.
So, on this day of celebrating Whitney Houston's homegoing, I believe that it is fitting that we acknowledge and accept that angels fall. But we must understand that they can also get up.
For me, in my remembrance of Whitey, she will stand, not as the super nova propped up by the marketing magic designed to line the pockets of product creators, but as a person with a unique talent and entirely human—fighting to survive the system, a system which has all of us fighting for our lives.