Yesterday we heard about the death of Whitney Houston, one of the all-time best selling female vocalists. She was extremely popular from the mid-80’s through the 90’s, but more than that she brought to the stage a voice that ranks her among the great all-time vocalists in popular music.
Here is a bit from the news item:
Whitney Houston, who reigned as pop music’s queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died. She was 48.
Publicist Kristen Foster said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.
At her peak, Houston the golden girl of the music industry. From the middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world’s best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.
Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like “The Bodyguard” and “Waiting to Exhale.”
She had the he perfect voice, and the perfect image: a gorgeous singer who had sex appeal but was never overtly sexual, who maintained perfect poise.
She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey, who when she first came out sounded so much like Houston that many thought it was Houston.
But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.
She was criticized for as she said ‘not being black enough’, ‘too pop’, and so on. Her marriage to rapper Bobby Brown seemed to send her into a spiral that she never escaped. Her voice degraded, her appearance showed years of ‘hard living’, and she became erratic. Her recent attempts at a comeback were more sad to watch than anything else, as it was more of a reminder of how she had squandered a truly great talent through years of drug abuse. And I always felt bad for her daughter through the years.
But as we mourn her passing, I would rather focus on all of the great happiness and joy she brought to the world through the years. So let’s go!
Here is a list of all of her awards:
- 2 Emmy Awards
- 4 US Number One Albums – “Whitney Houston,” “Whitney,” “I Look To You,” and the soundtrack to “The Bodyguard”.
- 6 People’s Choice Awards
- 6 Grammy Awards for her songs “Saving All My Love for You,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “I Will Always Love You,” “Exhale (Shoop Shoop),” “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay,” and her album “I Will Always Love You.”
- 7 Soul Train Music Awards
- 11 Number One Songs – “Saving All My Love For You,” “How Will I Know,” “Greatest Love Of All,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” “So Emotional,” “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” “All The Man That I Need,” “I Will Always Love You,” and “Exhale.”
- 16 NAACP Image Awards
- 22 American Music Awards
- 30 Billboard Music Awards
- 99 RIAA Awards
- 562 Total Award Nominations
- 415 Awards Overall
- 170 Million Albums, Singles And Videos Sold Worldwide
Here is her definitive rendition of the Dolly Parton classic ‘I Will Always Love You’:
Her big hit ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’:
One of her early hits that demonstrated her amazing voice ‘Saving All My Love for You’:
And another great early hit ‘The Greatest Love of All’:
And here is a great isolated vocal track from ‘How Will I Know’:
Every year on American Idol streams of singers try to ‘be Whitney’, and watching someone with a solid voice like Christina Aguilera stumble through the national anthem and over-sing at Etta James’ funeral is just a reminder of how marvelously talented Whitney Houston really was.