We Will Always Love You: A Whitney Houston Tribute


We Will Always Love You: A Whitney Houston Tribute
By Mother Brain

On February 11, the world was saddened by the news about the tragic passing of arguably one of the greatest pop/R&B vocalists of all time, Whitney Houston. As shocked as I was hearing about it, the news did not completely surprise me either. Whitney’s troubled past with drugs was well documented in the media over the course of the last decade. But I’m not going to point fingers and speculate on what exactly caused her death. Instead, I want to remember Whitney for how her music inspired me and my family through the years.

The earliest memory I have of Whitney was around the time her debut film The Bodyguard was released. My mom and my aunts were huge fans of her music the moment she burst on the scene in 1985. I didn’t know much about her music as a child except this powerful feeling I felt when I first heard “All the Man That I Need” while riding in the backseat of my parents’ car one day. In a crazy way, it was one of those songs like Mariah Carey’s “Hero” that spoke to me as if I was being told what real women want in a real man. Then there was her superb National Anthem performance at the Super Bowl in 1991 that felt right at the time when the troops came home from Desert Storm. I can’t describe it because you have to see it.

For most of the 90s, I was only aware of Whitney Houston as a movie star. The Bodyguard was a very exciting romantic thriller in its day and its soundtrack was unforgettable. I even went as far as bringing the old cassette tape to class one day before Thanksgiving break just to look cool around my teachers and classmates. Then came other big cinematic hits like Waiting to Exhale and The Preacher’s Wife where she broke away from her pop star image to play real women with real world issues. Critics were always split on her acting. But nobody can deny her overall talent as an entertainer.

When I got into high school, I found myself being a nostalgia nerd for old school R&B music because I was not attracted to the majority of the music landscape in the late 90s – early 2000s. So among the albums I dusted off was my mom’s CD of Whitney Houston’s debut album from 1985. Two songs stood out for me at the time: “Greatest Love of All” and “Saving All My Love For You”. “Greatest” had been previously performed by George Benson for the Muhammad Ali movie The Greatest in 1977. Whitney, however, brought something extra special to her rendition of the song. Not only was it used for my 8th grade graduation but I also listened to it constantly in high school the day before my series of Regents exams for inspiration. “Saving” was a song I heard for years that I didn’t realize was Whitney’s song until I got into my teens. I always found that song soothing to listen to when I felt downbeat because of Whitney’s national treasure of a voice as well as its earthshaking instrumentation.

My memories of Whitney are just as sporadic as my other musical hero, Michael Jackson. The pop king and queen were part of my life’s soundtrack. But like Michael, Whitney was also a human being who never planned to become a musical icon. For all of her career highs, there were a lot of lows in her personal life that affected her performances in ways that made us yearn for the Whitney of old. Despite this, there was never a time in my life where I rooted for failure in Whitney’s career no matter how troubled she was physically and emotionally.

As lights have dimmed on Whitney Houston’s life, I express my sincere condolences to her family and her children for whom I pray for. While there’s a plethora of today’s superstars like Beyonce Knowles and Alicia Keys who will continue to embody her spirit musically, Whitney Houston was a once in a lifetime icon who will never be duplicated. Back in 1992, she gave the world her most popular song “I Will Always Love You.” Today, from me and her fans all over the world, I’d like to say that WE will always love you, Whitney.

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