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Opinion: Whitney Houston remains ‘The Voice’ 2 years after death

February 10, 2014

Hickman.201@osu.edu
Whitney Houston sings at the 2004 World Music Awards in Las Vegas Sept. 15, 2004. The singer died in the Beverly Hilton Hotel Feb. 11, 2012 from accidental drowning.  Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Whitney Houston sings at the 2004 World Music Awards in Las Vegas Sept. 15, 2004. The singer died in the Beverly Hilton Hotel Feb. 11, 2012 from accidental drowning.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

After nearly three decades of chart-topping hits, blockbuster movies and iconic live performances, the spotlight finally went out on superstar Whitney Houston two years ago Feb. 11.

“Nippy,” as her friends and family called her, tragically passed away at the Beverly Hilton Hotel the night before the 2012 Grammy Awards after accidentally drowning in her hotel bathtub.

Houston’s autopsy later revealed her drowning could have been caused by drugs, including her long-time adversary, cocaine, in addition to a pre-existing heart disease.

Although this news was painful, it was not unexpected.

For years, the world watched as Houston spiraled from record-breaking powerhouse vocalist to unemployed raspy junkie.

Houston, who is the most-awarded female artist of all time, according to Guinness World Records, was perhaps best known for her 1993 single and Dolly Parton cover, “I Will Always Love You,” where her mezzo-soprano soared.

Also nicknamed “The Voice,” Houston holds quite a few records, including most consecutive No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, best-selling debut album by a female artist at the time of its release (“Whitney Houston,” 1985), as well as the only artist to turn the “Star Spangled Banner” into a Billboard top-20 hit following her memorable rendition during the 1991 Super Bowl.

Despite selling more than 170 million records and starring in four movies (“The Bodyguard,” 1992, “Waiting to Exhale,” 1995, “The Preacher’s Wife,” 1996 and “Sparkle,” 2012), Houston turned to drugs to cope with the pressures that often come with groundbreaking success.

The world first began to notice Houston’s fall from grace in the early 2000s after missed appearances, troubles with the law and an appearance on the “Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special” in 2001, where Houston’s skeleton-like frame stole the show.

In a 2002 “Primetime” exclusive with Diane Sawyer, Houston denied drug use was to blame for her fragility, and she coined her infamous phrase, “Crack is whack.”

It wasn’t until 2009 that Houston finally came clean about her years of cocaine use and abusive marriage to singer Bobby Brown during “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Houston’s tell-all interview was on the eve of her comeback, where she hoped to restore her once legendary career with the 2009 release of the album “I Look to You.”

Although the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, Houston’s 2010 Nothing But Love world tour was less than revitalizing to critics because of her raspier voice and fuller figure.

Still, Houston tried to prove the world she was back when she starred as Emma Williams in “Sparkle,” a remake of the 1976 movie of the same title about three sisters trying to make it as singers in the 1960s.

Even though Houston wasn’t alive to see her final film released, her legacy of perseverance will be preserved in her last work for forever.

In fact, Houston’s final push to a comeback in the late 2000s says a lot about how we will remember her.

Think about it.

Houston was a black girl from Newark, N.J., who grew up to become one of the most successful artists of all time. Unlike many performers today, Houston’s mesmerizing voice and stunning natural beauty were enough to inspire a generation. Houston never had to take off her clothes, never had to use auto-tune and never put on distasteful performances to gain success. Houston used her gift to sing to the world about admirable themes such as love, faith and perseverance.

To many, Houston was seen as perfect, before her fall to drugs.

The pressure of maintaining record-breaking accomplishments and vocal perfection by topping every previous success is unimaginable.

Despite having a more seasoned voice that was unable to hit as many high notes in her later years, Houston was a true champion for continuing on with her career, despite what critics had to say.

This persistence is what made Houston great, even though she ultimately fell to her demons.

Her fans will hopefully not only remember her for her voice, but also for her humanness that was gained from falling from the very top and mustering up the courage to get back up again.


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  1. wendy banks says:

    Whitney will always be in our hearts n that voice will be deeply miss thinking of Cissy Houston n bobbi Kristina on this day

  2. Patty Hicks says:

    Ms. Houston was human with an awesome God given gift that she never ever failed to give God all the glory & praise for in her lifetime!! She never tried to outdo herself, she just love to sing and just as she said in the Diane Sawyer interview that it wasn’t fun anymore. I believe it wasn’t fun anymore because of the pressure from negative press and the fact that when a person becomes famous society gets this audacious thought that we own these people ……and we don’t because they are people and they have lives and we should respect their privacy! We first loved her singing, the awesome God given gift, when did it go from that to we must know what they are doing every waking hour! I love Whitney Houston; the amazing gift she was to humanity, her voice, her fight, her love for life, love for her family and her humanness, flaws and all! She had to live out her struggles in front of a perfected society, who makes no mistakes in life & who has never succumb to the pressures in life whether they be big or small, think that it’s their right to judge people while hiding their struggles and go through their issues in the dark; instead of a society that would say, I don’t know what it’s like to live my life in a bubble so I pray that she overcomes….and when she and others don’t , then our response is that I pray that she and others have found peace because at the end of the day, The Voice, Ms. Houston never belong to us…she belong to the ages, she belong to Her Heavenly Father and though it may seem to many like she lost……to those of who really know……She is the biggest winner! Well done Ms. Whitney Elizabeth Houston, well done and you take your rightful eternal rest!

  3. Tony says:

    Beautifully said Patty. Whitney’s music is one that is timeless and god has truly blessed us with with her presence. May she rest in peace. She knew The Lord and I have a gut feeling she is in his presence.

  4. Rex says:

    God Bless Whitney Houston.

  5. Rex says:

    As you just wrote the truth, ……Whitney was real, and wanted to be truthful to others while she had a chance. I think you hoped and expected more from many to hrlp her especially after the loss of Michael, Amy W, Anna Nicole and many others. By spilling beans on Diane S and most recently Oprah, she obviously was asking for help. With all the fame, no one famous could make sure she really stayed clean. Mariah, Celine, Favid Foster, Diane Warren, Babyface, Beyonce, and others…..especially Clive Davis should never allowed what happened to happen.

  6. Rex says:

    sorry for the typos. It is very telling that she was alone that day in Beverly. Where was Clive? Dione W? Mary J? Where were all the stars and industry people that knew she was struggling? She was alone and I believe she knew most did not care if she made it. In fact a lot of people did not want her to make it because if she was not at the top anymore, it would open a chance for them to be. How sad in our so called God praising, loving, none selfish, do it yourself society.

  7. Rex says:

    Each thing she did professionally told her life story in order. All of her music and movies shared her petsonal highs and lows along the way. I am and have been a true admirer of her works since I first heard that voice when I was 17, just like so many others. Whitney is the True Voice of my generation. She sang the soundtrack of my life, and now music is forever changed.

  8. Rex says:

    Whitney is a Child of God. Her greatest legacy is she helped bring millions closer to knowing Jesus Christ. That is what truely matters. God knows what we do and I am sure God is not pleased with how how so many treated Whitney. The media trashing her regularly, so called stars such as Rosie O and Queen L, and even Clive Davis demeaning her openly on narional tv did not love her or help her or even respect all her great works.

  9. Rex says:

    ok. I guess that atarts to get my point across. Whitney was love. I loved all the great works she shared. She is an Icon. As only a handful of peers, her Voice will still be cherished 200 years from now. That is if God does not choose to pull the plug. God does Bless Whitney Houston. She was sent to made a difference in this crazy world, and oh what a difference she made. I am closer to God because of her gifts. Thank you Whitney and RIP. : )

  10. Rex says:

    sorry for the typos. : )

  11. Rex says:

    Patty you are so right. Many of us believe she IS the biggest winner. And what matters, is SHE is a winner in the eyes of God. Amen.

  12. marcy says:

    Whitney was just a beautiful loving young lady and am praying for her pretty little daughter and her sweet mother that they will be strong in the lord he will take care of you both god less love you guys marcy

  13. Tharris says:

    Patty,Rex & Marcy:
    I love what you all wrote about the beautiful, angelic, iconic angel, Miss Whitney Houston. My life & spiritual relationship with God is strong, because of Whitney’s music & her dying love for God. Everything she did throughout her career reflected tht.
    I had a chance to meet, Whitney & I will never forget her sheer stunning beauty & yet she took the time out to talk to me.She was so down earth. Even though she was still in the public eye.
    Whitney loved life & mentoring others & praising God.When she refuse to be transformed to this wrld, thts when she got most of the criticism & felt the full magnitude of all the pressure.
    This wrld & the Music Industry will never be the same, without Michael Jackson & Whitney Houston.I know one thing,for sure they both loved God;however they got caught up in the evilness of the industry. But their in Heaven, God called his angels home. They both came to this wrld to leave their mark on life. If u can’t imagine life, or without Michael or Whitney Truly tht would be impossible.
    Rip,our Beautiful Whitney, we miss u. But God said,enough it’s time to come home.We will forever love u :-) Thk u for making a difference & thts wht God honors when says, well done most humble & faithful servant. Amen

  14. jacququeline perry says:

    Whitney was the greatest female singer ever.no one today still cant sing like whitney.our addictions are killing us , I just wish she could have helped herself a little more, and not chose to abuse alcohol or drugs.but it was her life and she lived it the way she wanted, god bless her she often cried for help but never got the help she needed.cause she had gone through her fortune, and just waited to long for she really realized she really needed help, only god was able to help her in the end, he brought her home and im almost certian she’s singing for him and not being judged and free of all her sins now.she was the greatest love of all and we will always love her.the greatestvever hands down, second to no one.

  15. Jada Durden says:

    We will dearly miss you whitney. I will always love you and always remember what a great and powerful voice that you had. I pray for Chrissy Huston, Bobbi Kristina and others that truly were inspired by such greatful singer.
    God Bless Whitney Huston. We love you. <3

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