Ah, this is one of music’s truly tragic stories. Related to gospel singer Cissy Houston (her mother) and Dion Warwick, who had a slew of hits in the 60s, Whitney Houston was privileged enough to grow up in a very musical family, and that no doubt influenced her career. I wonder sometimes if she was formally trained, but when you hang out in churches and grow up singing, the voice finds its own way, and stumbles upon the right technique in a manner of speaking.
The fairytale goes that she was discovered by Clive Davis, the record mogul who put his people to work in creating a bunch of radio-friendly crowd pleaser hits that would then be sung by a great vocalist, who had a great bod and a pretty face. I often say it didn’t take much acting ability to play the spoilt diva in The Bodyguard, which of course spawned the über hit I Will Always Love You, penned by Dolly Parton and produced by David Foster (with so many album sales, the soundtrack is still one of the best-selling of all time, and has helped make Dolly a very rich woman).
Her song Didn’t We Almost Have It All is most appropriate, as in Whitney’s case, she did. But then she went and lost it. Her relationship with Bobby Brown was rocky and drug-filled, and she took a beautiful voice and amazing career and went and tossed it. I remember her interview on Oprah – how the mighty had fallen. But she was humble, more real, more open, more of a human. Of course by then the voice was gone. She still had a minor hit, but she was a shadow of her former self.
And of course, sadly, she never managed to truly kick the drug habit that had haunted her for so many years. She died at age 48, and joins other fallen stars Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson in a weird musical tradition (in some cases) – you have to die in order to truly live, and become immortal.