Whitney Houston – The Voice!

A willowy church crooner with a towering voice who emerged as a pop charts titan in the 1980s and 90s, but toppled from her glorious innings amid reckless ego and fumes of addiction, has died an untimely death. Whitney Houston was 48.

Not even her worst critic could have possibly imagined her cliched ‘troubled’ rock star end: found dead in a bathtub due to ‘mysterious causes’, read: addiction to drugs and alcohol! Many acknowledged her as “The Voice” and loved her immensely!

We lost another beautiful singer just before the Grammy’s. Read on to discover the journey of one of the greatest singers and style divas – Whitney Houston.

Spiraling Down Into Oblivion!
The gifted singer’ professional decline had become synonymous with her public saga. Her addiction and haggard appearance shocked her countless fans who admired her beautiful smile and approachable glamor in concerts, album covers, music videos and later, hit films. Her eternal classics like “I Will Always Love You” and “Saving All My Love for You” had many singing along with her, although they barely recognized her by the end of the 1990s.

As Houston’s public image turned into something more volatile and darker, several loyal fans thought her relationship with Bobby Brown as the final blow. It was an axis on which her life appeared to spin madly. Later, the singing sensation acknowledged that she was addicted to drugs, and the toll on her appearance and her voice was difficult to watch.

In the scandalous 2002 interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, the diva said, “the biggest devil is me. I am either my best friend or my worst enemy.”

Brown was sitting right beside her when she made the statement. Their ‘doomed’ 14-year marriage, also described as tumultuous, was tarnished by domestic violence incidents, Brown’s lawbreaking habits and drug abuse. Their ‘destructive’ union became fodder for the entertainment shows and tabloids. They even did a reality show “Being Bobby Brown” for a year.

Glimpse into Childhood!
On 9th August 1963, Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born in Newark, N.J. Before baby Whitney could even talk or walk, the sound of choirs and powerful female voices were in her ears. Her mother, Cissy Hosanna, was a back-up and gospel singer who worked with the likes of Dusty Springfield, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. The renowned soul singer, Aretha Franklin was Whitney’s godmother, and Dee Dee Warwick and Dionne Warwick were her cousins. Well, there was little doubt that she would eventually become a singer.

The young singer would belt out “Respect” in her family’s basement and bask in the applause and adulation given by her loved ones. She was a back-up singer for Lou Rawls and Chaka Khan in high school. Also, she started modelling and graced the covers of Glamour and Seventeen magazines.

She was spotted by Davis, the music mogul, at a showcase when she was just 19. Davis has become renowned for his success in mentoring the careers of Carlos Santana, Rod Stewart, Kelly Clarkson and Alicia Keys. He saw a rare bundle of pedigree, beauty and raw talent in Houston. Davis invested two years before releasing “Whitney Houston,” her debut album in 1985. The album became platinum.

The Rise of the Diva!
Her debut album became the 1st album to yield three number one singles by a new female artist: “The Greatest Love of All,” “How Will I Know,” and “Saving All My Love for You.” Even though the critics claimed the album was too flimsy, the diva reveled in the success.

She emerged as a major crossover star, and with her wholesome aura and church background, she was a rare gem who was attractive and young but not overtly sexualized.

Her follow-up album, “Whitney” released in 1987, became an instant hit with chartbursting numbers like “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”, “So Emotional,” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me).” She conquered the world of music: She sold more than 170 million videos, singles and albums in the pre-digital era!

Foray into Hollywood!
From ruling the pop charts, films were her next frontier. Starring opposite Kevin Costner in “The Bodyguard,” was a new milestone in her life. The film’s soundtrack won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1994 and catapulted the hit “I Will Always Love You” as the best-selling single by a female artist in the history of music. In “Waiting to Exhale,” she showed her desire to act more complex characters. Later, she acted opposite Denzel Washington in “The Preacher’s Wife.” However, her foothold in Hollywood began to wobble due to the bad press and personal issues. Still, she won 22 American Music Awards – highest for any female artist – and 6 Grammys.

Ode to “The Voice”!
Her destructive marriage to Bobby Brown and drug addiction made her life a tragedy: A gifted soul was reduced to a mere custodian of “the national treasure that happened to reside within her” – which Whitney failed to protect due to her own demons. Among so many ‘heartfelt’ tributes, I slow down and wonder, are people mourning Whitney’s death or the tragic demise of ‘The Voice’?

Whitney Houston was a fearless diva who swept everyone with her strong vocals and beautiful smile. No one can ever take that away from her – she was a gifted soul with a heavenly voice who made a special place in our hearts! No one, not even her personal turmoils, can deny her rise to stardom and glory! RIP Whitney Houston, you will always be in our hearts and memories!

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