Saturday I got a text from a close friend saying that Whitney Houston had passed away. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked. I honestly thought she would be around for years to come so that she could could keep blessing us all with her terrific voice..
I grew up listening to Contemporary Christian music artists like Point of Grace, Petra, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Amy Grant and Steven Curtis Chapman. Therefore my earliest memories include those artists.
My earliest memory of Houston involves her singing a duet with BeBe and CeCe Winans, a song called "Hold Up The Light." They used to play the song on 89.3 KSBJ's "Lightforce" where they played Christian hard rock, metal, rap and R&B back in the early '90's. Contemporary Christian artists don't make music that is as good as what this matchup made anymore.
I had heard that Whitney was a Christian. We both grew up singing in a Baptist church - albeit on different coasts, she on the East Coast while I was raised on the Gulf Coast. But we differ from there. She came from a family of singers that included Dionne Warwick and gospel singer Cissy Houston.
I wasn't old enough to see The Bodyguard when it came out. I was only five or six. But I do remember The Preacher's Wife. Even though I haven't seen both movies, I would love to see them. It's rare that a singer can both sing and act.
As I got older, my music tastes changed. When I was in middle school, I was into the "divas" of music: Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, and some Whitney Houston. This was mainly because VH1 would air "VH1 Divas Live" a lot in the late '90s. I liked her song "It's Not Right But It's Okay." Looking back, I wonder if that song was meant for her husband, Bobby Brown.
One of my best memories of her, however, involves me on the eve of a first date with my college boyfriend. I remember playing "How Will I Know" and just soaking in the fact that, at that time on the following night, I was going to be on a date with a man that I had feelings for. I was very excited. "How Will I Know" seemed to perfectly capture that moment for me.
In some ways, that moment reminded me of that scene in 13 Going On 30 where Jennifer Garner's character, Jenna Rink, discovers that her middle-aged self owns all these great shoes and clothing. She just looks around in awe at her possessions as "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" chimes in and she realizes she's essentially living her childhood dream.
Then this Saturday hit me. I had just gotten home from a baby shower and was sitting in front of my television watching a DVR-ed episode of 30 Rock and I got the text from my friend telling of Houston's death. I immediately changed the channel to one of the news channels. I never finished the episode.
As it turned out, it was true. I was a bit shocked. I texted my close friend and called my dad to tell him the news. Even he was a little shocked, and he never listens to that kind of music.
When Whitney died, not only did the genres of soul and R&B lose a great voice, but the gospel world lost one too. Never again in any genre will there be a powerhouse voice akin to hers.
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