|Black History Month: Remembering Whitney|
|Thursday, 16 February 2012 12:50|
In the midst of the Black History Month celebrations, the world mourns the loss of one of its most iconic Black entertainers, Whitney Elizabeth Houston, who died at the age of 48 on February 11 in Los Angeles.
In William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Mark Antony famously said "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones." It is hoped that this with not be Whitney Houston's fate, that history remembers her phenomenal talent and not the turmoil that besieged her at the pinnacle of her success.
Born August 9, 1963 Houston's talent was quickly recognized as a child singing on the choir at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. She was influenced and guided by her mother, gospel singer Cissy Houston, her cousin Dionne Warwick, godmother Aretha Franklin and other great Black artists like Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight and Roberta Flack.
Her first album Whitney Houston was released in 1985, featuring the hits "All at Once," "You Give Me Love," "How Will I know" and "Saving All My Love for You," her first number one single. The video of "How Will I know," another number one single, was heavily rotated on MTV, making her the first Black female artist to receive such rotation on the music channel, then being challenged for ignoring Black artists.
In 1986, the album Whitney Houston remained at the top of the Billboard charts for 14 weeks. The album turned platinum, selling over 25 million copies worldwide. That year, Houston also won her first Grammy, Best Pop Vocal Performance, for "Saving All My Love for You."
Houston was the only artist to have seven consecutive number one Billboard hits – "Saving All My Love for You," "How Will I Know," "Greatest Love of All," "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," "Didn't We Almost Have It All," "So Emotional" and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go." She was also one of the world's best-selling music artists, with over 170 million albums, singles and videos sold. In 2009 the Guinness World Book of Records named Houston the most awarded female artist of all time, with two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, and 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards.
Her popularity escalated during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, when she sang "The Star Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXV in Tampa, Florida. The rendition was released as a commercial single, breaking into the Top 20 U.S. charts, the only occasion an artist turned the American national anthem into a chart hit. She donated the proceeds from this record to the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund and she was later named to the Red Cross Board of Governors.
Houston also excelled as an actress with roles in Waiting to Exhale, The Preacher's Wife, and The Bodyguard.
In the late 1990s to 2006, Houston struggled publically with many personal issues, but she bounced back in 2009 with a new album, I Look to You. The title single sold some 500,000 copies in its first week of release. Recently, she completed her performance in the movie Sparkle, with American Idol winner Jordan Sparks, to be released this summer.
Following her death, tributes poured in from around the globe, particularly from a new generation of pop songstresses inspired by her legacy, including Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé, and Mariah Carey. And as fans across the world grieve, sales of her hits have soared.
The voice of a great Black American entertainer has been silenced, but like those who passed before her, her music will live on for the ages.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 16 February 2012 15:37|