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.

-VSB P