Pop Culture

And I Will Always Love Whitney.

August 9, 1963 - February 11, 2012. Gone too soon.

Whitney Houston is gone.

I don’t even know how else to start this off. The news that Whitney Houston died at the young age of 48 (!!!!!!) caught me so off guard that when the first person called to tell me, I responded so non-chalantly that I caught myself by surprise. I was just like, “that’s sad.”

It wasn’t because it didn’t matter. It’s because it just didn’t seem real at all. Not Whitney. Micheal? Yeah. We were all saddened and moved but it wasn’t a total surprise to anybody. Whitney was also on some sort of that stuff – and quite famously – and yet it just didn’t seem like she’d pass…so soon (again…48!!!!). We still don’t know what happened but no illegal drugs were found in the room and there were no signs of foul play. It was just…her time.

(Early reports suggest that she may have drowned. That is tragic beyond belief if its true. EDIT: 10AM – Turns out she didn’t drown, but a lethal mix of prescription drugs and alcohol might have killed her long before she had time to drown. There wasn’t enough water in her lungs to suggest she drowned.)

And that’s hard to deal with. I’ve come to grips with the fact that I have no power of when my time on this planet will end. It’s bigger than I am. But the death of larger than life people like Whitney Houston still seems surreal and doesn’t make sense to me. I always felt like she had another comeback in her. Her voice, while not what it used to be, was still leagues better than 98 percent of the population.

That voice. My God. There have been a few people who I’ve felt were given a truly God given gift and Whitney was one of them. Her voice was so strong, so pure, and so beautiful that her heyday was nearly 25 years ago and we are STILL attached to those very songs. Just like Michael. While nobody will ever touch what Michael Jackson did, Whitney was as pretty high up on the short of list of individuals who held that type of superstardom purely for their talents.

I’m a grown ass man and I still sing along to “I’m Every Woman”. And who HASN’T screwed up “Greatest Love of All” at karaoke or in their car. And think, that song is immortal ANYWAY because of Coming To America. And yes, “How Will I Know” if he really loves me. I don’t know…So many songs. So many great moments. And no, my name is not Susan, which could be why people never watch what they say. I really think I could write an entire post based on her songs.

I think, much like Michael, the true test of what Whitney Houston meant to America, and particularly Black America is how much of our experiences she’s tied to. If you grew up in the 80s then Whitney was absolutely apart of your life. I remember the long ass road trips with my Black man from Alabama ass father blasting the I’m Your Baby Tonight album. My father used to ask my mother to put Whitney Houston (and later Mariah Carey) under the Christmas tree for him every year. Every. Year. My daddy wasn’t sh*t.

And don’t even get me started on the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack. I still bump that (real talk). There’s an odd connection we all feel in the Black community (and maybe white artists do too) to our artists, especially the larger than life ones. Maybe it’s because music is the one escape most of us have in a life filled with so much struggle. Artists like Whitney blew the lid off what we could achieve and what was expected and even though she sang pop music, she sang it in a way that wasn’t selling out. You can’t fake a voice like that and there’s no way to sell out with an instrument like that.

Whitney Houston was family. Hell, she still is family. She’s so much family that many of us are ACTUALLY really concerned about Bobbi Kristina…and Bobby Brown. And I’m not even sure Whitney liked him anymore. But this is what happens when family passes. And there’s a certain sadness that will persist for a while. She was an icon. She was a legend. And its hard to believe that she’s gone. But she’s one of those that will live forever. She has no choice. She made too much of an impact while she was here. There are very few artists today who aren’t influenced by her.

Plus, she has one of the most iconic “big leagues” of all time in her remake of “I Will Always Love You”. It’s a perfect rendition. With a perfect voice.

And yes, the Whitney tribute was short. And yes, we all wanted more. Did Whitney get shortchanged? Possibly.

But that’s second to the fact that the voice is gone.

I’m all over the place here, so I’ll just end this here:

Whitney, I wish to you joy, and happiness…but above all this, I wish you love.

We love you. And miss you. RIP.


Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • CL

    Waiting to Exhale still bumped in my car on the regular! This post was great. She felt like family…she was family. Their are moments in my life that I can tie to her music. She was an icon. Made a mark across multiple generations. Even when she had her problems she was family and we all wanted for things to get better for her. When I saw her Oprah interview and she put out her last CD it wasn’t her best but I know I was hoping that she was truly happy. Such a loss.

  • dd

    This was such a sweet tribute, thank you for honoring her memory. RIP Whitney

  • I honestly feel like one of those people who I callously used to roll my eyes at b/c I did cry about it and felt sick. A close friend of mine passed away last week and this month… this year… with Don C passing, Etta James. I just don’t know what else to say. Nice post and thank you.

  • Adrienne


  • HowManyMics?

    She was ours. When she was going through those rough times, we cracked jokes but in a family type way. We knew she was special and still loved her. While the mainstream ridiculed her and didn’t care. She will be missed and is truly appreciated. This is too surreal and too much. RIP

  • My first response to hearing of Whitney’s death was “What?!” and I’m still in disbelief. It’s not that same as it was with Micheal, but it’s close.

    PJ has said everything I would want to say. RIP Whitney. You and your amazing voice will be missed.

  • and the church says, AMEN!!! Great post, Panama

    Rick James (1948-2004) – “Fire and Desire”
    Luther Vandross (1951-2005) – “Here and Now”
    Gerald Levert (1966-2006) – “Baby Hold On To Me”
    James Brown (1933-2006) – “I Feel Good”
    Michael Jackson (1958-2009) – “Thriller”
    Teddy Pendergrass (1950-2010) – “Turn Off The Lights”
    Nick Ashford (1941-2011) – “Solid”
    Heavy D (1967-2011) – “Big Daddy”
    Etta James (1938-2012) – “At Last”
    Whitney Houston (1963-2012) – “I Will Always Love You”
    Don Cornelius (1936-2012)
    ……….People who brought us Love, Peace, and Soouuuuuuullll!!!

    p.s. epic fail by Grammys person(s) making the in memorial for not having a pic/mentioning Vesta Williams, Nick Ashford, Etta James & Don Cornelius. thank you ll cool j & Questlove for at least shoutin’ them out.

  • Daddy’s Girl

    I still haven’t really accepted that she is gone. We are losing so many icons, it seems every month another one is gone. She left us the very best part of herself; her music. It will live on though she is no longer with us.

  • Tx10inch

    Don’t forget the best rendention of the Star Stangled Banner EVER…..EVER!! I’ve only truly mourned over one celebrity death…Aliyah. This hurts just as bad.

  • LuckBALady

    Beautiful post. Thank you for putting into words what I could not.

    As one who sang with all my heart (with my 5th grade classmates) “Greatest Love of All”, I do not think Ms. Houston was shortchanged by a short tribute. Her talent should not be desecrated by lesser talents trying to out scream each other.

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