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Whitney Houston will be placed in the ground today. An extremely talented, beautiful woman that could not withstand the scrutiny of an endless and mindless paparazzi based media, desperate to pick the fly specks out of the pepper and bring down to a relate level anyone in their eyeline. A true Hollywood story, that no doubt will be made into a big screen production, down the road.
Before American Idol, before the days of great media hype and exposure, before making so-called musical stars out of whole cloth….were the days of what might be called “Naturally Gifted, Born with Talent Performers”. Sammy Davis Junior may have well been the first of Black Entertainers to make their natural talents felt for the greater population. Not counting Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the Step Brothers, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, Dinah Washington, Etta James, Donna Summer, Aretha Franklin and so many others from the throes of Gospel, Jazz and a World unknown to the general white population. Lightning Hopkins, Jimmy Reed, Johnny Mathis, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Issac Hayes, Taj Mahal, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and a liturgy of greats with so much natural talent, that it was even hard to guide or direct any of them into something popular or manufactured – as it is being hyped and done today.
Whitney Houston was born in 1963, with roots from a great heritage; Dionne Warwick, Aretha and so many more. Although she was born with the contacts and assistance of the great ones……she had to in fact “perform up to expectations” to succeed, which of course means that those goals have to be greater than anyone might expect. The success of the 80’s was met with all the pressures associated with such success. Some say it can be easier to accept failure than it is success. The rewards and the responsibilities are so great that people are left with “What do you do for an encore?” Many cannot meet or match their initial successes; either for personal, business or even trivial political reasons. The Beatles and Bob Dylan come to mind as examples of how the process can work to an extreme. The death of John Lennon, the 70’s motorcycle accident of Bob Dylan somehow leave us dazed and confused from many of the macros sometimes at work.
Substance abuse has been around for innumerable years. Billy Holiday and Nina Simone were prime examples of incredible talent affected and twisted by drug use. The list of Jazz greats hooked on drugs could fill an encyclopedia. Whitney Houston tried to hold her life together in the face of powerful forces that wanted to “take a piece of her heart”….as what happened to Janis Joplin. Whether it was Bobby Brown, Society at large, personal weakness, depression, addiction or simply a desire “Not to compete” in a non stop, demanding world. Sadly, Whitney has left the building! She was a beautiful and talented human being that has gone from this earth because of some seemingly unknown reason or cause. Her memorial Celebration of Life funeral is occurring today and many will have loving words and songs to commemorate someone that had brought joy to many. Their words and songs will not be enough for those of us that who truly appreciated her cute beginnings, her tough years that followed and her sad ending – a departure without our approval.
Bon Voyage Whitney….we truly loved your talent – your songs and memory will last forever!