Thursday, August 9, 2012

Happy Birthday: Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston
(August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012)

It has only been a few months since we have lost one of our beloved who's voice and spirit shattered boundaries. In honor of Whitney, I took the liberty of re-posting this memo a good friend of mine posted on Facebook today. ENJOY!

Remembering "Nippy"...Happy Birthday Girl!
by Deborah Hatter-Grant

Happy Birthday, "Nippy"! This picture is how I will always remember you...a breathtakingly beautiful young girl, with snap and pizzazz, sassy and smart, with a "mega-watt" smile, fashion model cheekbones, and a voice that mesmerized. I remember standing at my kitchen sink, late on a Thursday night, with my hands immersed up to my elbows in hot, sudsy water, finishing up the day's dishes...sometime in early 1985, when both my girls were still little. I was tired...a single mom, going to school and working, just standing there listening to the music while I washed the pots and pans, as was my nightly "alone time"...daydreaming, when a voice that I did not recognize came over the airwaves. A female voice...with a pureness, a power, and an absolute sweetness in the yearning, that I had never heard before.

I rushed to dry my hands, and turn up the volume on the radio...sat down at the kitchen table just to listen. I remember thinking to myself, "oh my goodness...who is THAT?" All of us "wanna be" singers, and "coulda, woulda, shoulda been" singers, (especially those of us who have had some musical training, and after years of "ear training", I still had "perfect pitch" in those days), know the real deal when we hear it...and I immediately knew that you were something different...something special. There was a "hunger" in your was almost palpable to me, as I listened. It made me want to hear more...and more and more. In spite of your vocal power, there was a subtlety underneath, that allowed us to hear something just a little different every time we heard you sing...another little "spin"...even if we had heard you sing the song a million times, we could discover something entirely new in your interpretation. Like a good book, or a fine wine, a stunning piece of poetry, or an amazing work of visual was something intangible that just made one want to go deeper, and deeper, and deeper into the beauty that you created with your music.

And wow...did you ever deliver MORE! Over the years, you shared your gifts and your talents, your triumphs and your tragedies, and your music became a part of all of our lives. The "Body Guard" soundtrack became a ritual lullaby in 1994, for my then 2 yr old son, who sat glued to the couch with wide-eyed wonder, listening to you sing. No one could touch that CD player while he was listening to you...all hell and havoc were sure to break out, if anyone had the audacity to turn off "his" Whitney. Your "I'm Your Baby Tonight" CD was a late night favorite for me and my husband, dancing in the kitchen, not long after we married...and of course, "The Preacher's Wife" soundtrack was ALWAYS in the CD player...even when it wasn't Christmastime. Years later, your work on the "Just Whitney" album, was my constant companion in the car, when I was moving alone to a small town, to try and start my life over after the untimely death of my husband. Girl, I was singing "Try It On My Own", from that CD, right along with you...slinging "snot" and crying the whole time...LOL! Felt like we were just two good girlfriends, commiserating, and trying to make it to the other side of some very harsh realities in our lives.

You lived your life in front of us...the good, the bad, and the ugly, and sometimes we didn't know how to handle that...we like to think that our heroes and "she-roes" are superhuman...we don't like it when our icons and idols show us their very human qualities...their frailties. But I understand frailty...and imperfection, and doubt...and loss. I admired you just as much for your humanity, for your struggles, and for your courage to "keep getting up" and trying again, as I admired you for your iconic gifts and unbelievable successes. Sometimes I think that had we loved you better, given you more acceptance to be "just Whitney" might still be with us. That rare and magical vocal talent of yours is something that will never be heard again, and we all miss it. But I think that what I miss most, are those very "leonine" qualities of yours...the ones that shone through, no matter the situation. Your love of family, (your "pride"), your trust and belief in your Higher Power, your magnanimous personality, your regal elegance and grace...your love. Yes...we truly miss you, Miss Whitney...the last true superstar! Can't wait to see your last turn on the big screen in the new upcoming movie, "Sparkle" will surely be bittersweet for those of us who love you. Happy Birthday, in the beauty, and power, and sweet, sweet, peace that you so richly deserve!

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