Whitney Houston, who ruled 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.
News of Houston’s death came on the eve of music’s biggest night — the Grammy Awards. It’s a showcase where she once reigned, and her death was sure to case a heavy pall on tomorrow’s ceremony.
I remember lipsyching her songs when I was six, and performing her tunes when I was in high school.
She had the 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.
Her most memorable hit: a searing, stunning rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” which sat atop the charts for weeks. It was Grammy’s record of the year and best female pop vocal, and the Bodyguard (1992) soundtrack was named album of the year.
But despite her stories on drugs and alcohol abuse, she was to me like Josef was to Mariah, and Domeng to Madonna.
She was more than an inspiration. She was an influence.
Though some say that no funeral was never untimely, I say that her going is a going to Grammy’s night that will never be.
Goodbye Whitney. I’m sure a considerable number of gay men are wailing, if not singing your most memorable tunes.