I was 12 years old when Whitney Houston released her first album. She was just 10 years older. Last Saturday, one of the strangest days of my life, I recalled that memory and our age connection.
Imagine finding out that one of the biggest entertainers in music has passed away shortly after going on the air. And as word spread that she had died, her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, was preparing to perform right here in our area with his group, New Edition.
Talk about having to switch gears really quickly. I have been in radio for quite a number of years now and I love it. However, one of the things I really don’t like is breaking bad news. In the past four years, there have been a number of celebrities whose deaths I’ve had to mention on the air – Michael Jackson, Isaac Hayes, Bernie Mac, Etta James and Don Cornelius – among them.
Michael Jackson’s death impacted me on a really, really deep level. However, there’s something about Whitney’s passing that touches me even more than that. It could be that Memphis had a connection to the news of her death – Bobby Brown was here as the story was unfolding and he still came out and gave everyone a good show.
As word became widespread that Whitney had passed, the next topic was, “Is Bobby here and will he perform?”
While on the air, I spoke with my coworker, Janeen Gordon, who was at the show at the time. I was able to report developments live on the air and inform listeners as to what was going on at the Landry Center in Southaven, Miss.
The unsettling news touched many of our souls.
As of this writing, Whitney’s death was still being investigated and an autopsy has been performed. There is plenty of speculation surrounding it. However, I will not speculate nor fuel any rumors. I’m going to reflect and celebrate her life. I am thankful for the music she has provided us with over the years.
Did you know that Whitney is the most awarded female artist in history? Yes, she is the only artist who has won at least one Emmy, Grammy, Billboard Music Award and American Music Award? To put it all in perspective, she has won 2 Emmys, 6 Grammys, 30 Billboard Awards and 22 American Music Awards. She sold a total of 170 million albums, singles and videos worldwide.
Whitney, as we fans affectionately called her, made more history in 1991 when she performed “The Star Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXV. The performance itself became a top-selling single, making her the only act to turn the national anthem into a top 20 pop hit. She donated all of her share of the proceeds to the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund.
I loved all of her movies, including “The Bodyguard,” “Waiting to Exhale,” and most of all, “The Preacher’s Wife,” which also starred Denzel Washington. These movies made it possible for filmmakers such as Tyler Perry to produce and create the types of movies that he does.
At press time, the funeral was set for Saturday in her hometown of Newark, N.J. There are also reports that Bobby Brown is not welcom at the funeral. If that’s the case, I think it’s only the beginning of a lot of drama. We shall see.
Meanwhile, I will certainly be praying for her daughter, who will be affected by this the most. I’ve never lost a parent, but losing one at such a young age has got to be a hard thing to bear. It’s actually not easy to lose her as a fan. However, we will always have Whitney’s music and the sweet memories they engender.
Catch me next week as I get back to the events! Until then, that’s what’s happening.