It seemed only fitting to start the craziness of my world with the woman responsible for the soundtrack to every big event in my life and for the movie ‘The Bodyguard’ that to date I have seen 137 times.
Excessive, I hear you say? Absolutely not.
The timing also happens to be spot on as we are close to the anniversary of her death on 11th Feb.
That moment is a particularly poignant one. Following my early 21st party (actual birthday is the 16th) I had gone upstairs to grab The Bodyguard DVD to watch before bed. Upon seeing what I was doing my brother said
“You don’t want to do that.”
I can honestly say in that moment it felt like a personal grief, which is weird because as a family we have experienced close grief so to have that similar feeling about Whitney was a bit crazy.
Whitney was my hero, she was coming back, she had fought her addiction and seemed on the right track, I admired that and wanted to believe in a happy ending, something that in life we hadn’t experienced.
Whitney was gone and the void left behind was huge not just for me but for the world.
A fascination began perhaps before I was even old enough to comprehend what was entering my psyche; my Mum’s record collection is what I hold accountable for much of my development and let’s not get into my Dad’s and its influence. I was born in February 1991, and in 1992; The Bodyguard movie was released and with that was the release of ‘I Will Always Love You’.
I have very vivid memories from being extremely small and belting out the lyrics to the song on the top of my tiny lungs (admittedly very badly and not in the cute way we see today of all these little polished experts in YouTube videos.) I didn’t have a clue about the meaning of that song, the impact it had on the music industry or indeed the impact it would have on generations to come of singers trying to mimic the perfect vocals that Whitney enveloped.
What I also couldn’t predict was that song would be present at every birthday, wedding, christening, family gathering, party, and most recently at my Grandmother’s funeral; that’s ignoring the car journeys, dog walks and general play throughout the day. So, what was it that resonated with the 3-year-old or so me?
I have been fascinated by this; and I think it boils down to the fact that sonically Whitney’s voice and all the beauty contained within it found its way into little old me and connected transcending all boundaries of a child’s development and understanding – some things just click.
Whitney had a way of making us all feel like we knew her, even if the closest the majority of us ever got was music videos, interviews and live performance’s; everybody could in some way identify with her.
I feel like she set the bar and excelled, I admired that; I wanted to be the Whitney of whatever I was doing. If I was going to be a Youth Worker it was going to be to the ‘Whitney’ standard; my artwork was going to be the pinnacle of art, I was going to set a ‘Whitney’ standard for everything I did. Not in terms of fame or recognition but loving what I do and putting 100% into it every time.
Perhaps the peak of Whitney’s career was not in her musical success but on the back of her starring role as Rachel Marron in ‘The Bodyguard’. The movie captured the essence of what love actually is without the happy go lucky fantasy that is so often portrayed and of course – no happy ending.
Whitney and Kevin Costner as their respective characters didn’t run off into the sunset together in fact the closing segment shows the two of them reprising their previous roles in life before their meeting and it closes out to Whitney’s glorious voice “If I should stay… I would only be in your way. So, I’ll go but I know I Will Always Love You’
It didn’t stop me believing in the happy ending that I made up in my mind, Kevin got off the plane and off they went happily ever after. That was the ending Whitney deserved in real life but far from the one she got.
In the movie it didn’t matter that Whitney was Black and Kevin White – race was barely even an undertone, it just resolved around 2 people with 2 different trajectories in life that crossover and fell in love.
Of course, race was an issue that surrounded Whitney her whole career. Whitney was only acceptable in the White world when being used for various ploys; when the relationship with Bobby Brown was playing out publically she was back to being Black, when drugs were part of the conversation, she was Black, when she wasn’t acting right, she was Black.
What a line to walk not being black enough or white enough and what kind of world are we living in where just being who you are is the instigation of such trauma?
Don’t get me started on the clear racial issue where only the negative things, were that which caused Whitney to be considered Black.
Having recently read Mariah Carey’s autobiography and the challenges she faced walking the line based on her colour alone and the effect this had on her; aside from their obvious individual talent aligning their parallels, this is another sad connection the two women shared, as with I am sure nearly every successful Black woman in any industry.
Why wasn’t just being Whitney enough?
Mariah’s poignant message from her story is simply that in order to survive she had to make heart-breaking decisions to cut off all those that brought her negativity, including family, and that is what saved her, along with faith.
We have seen a person’s circle being the destruction of many in the public eye; Michael Jackson, Prince and currently we only need to take a look at Britney Spears and the prison that she seems to be confined too.
I strongly believe on this earth there are souls who have been here before, been round the cosmic block and transcended other worlds before returning – maybe coming back for unfinished business or maybe here for the purpose of teaching us all a thing or two.
When a young child shows wisdom beyond their years or shows an interest in something that they have no experience of; maybe it is because they were here before. I believe these souls to be the warmest of us all and the ones who attract the most intrigue from those around them.
Sometimes with these souls there is great sadness that they bear and carry with them; I don’t know why but maybe it is because they have returned and have not moved on to the next plain of existence; maybe they are sad at the sorry state of the world; or maybe there is no peace until they settle the score that they came back for.
Whitney seemed like that person, someone who had been round the block so to speak and carried that heavy sadness with her.
Ultimately both Whitney’s life and death was a tremendous tragedy; let’s forget who she was publically to the world and what she meant as an icon but boil down to just bare bones of her time among us – anyone who suggests it to be anything but tragic would be a fool.
Plagued by addiction, hidden and out of bounds love, a rebellion from the perfect Church girl mould, a family that both loved and needed her leading to toxicity. To compound that, lets add in the mix a talent that only a special spirit could handle and one unlike any other we are likely to ever see again; which grew to be admired the world over but proved to be too much responsibility for one woman in her circumstances to control.
The tragedy is not that we lost ‘The Voice’ which a lot of the public was caught up in after Whitney’s passing; the true tragedy was that Whitney passed with more questions than answers, seemingly on track, happy and healthy, with more success after the completion of ‘Sparkle’, and yet she left the world alone, kept company by only her demons.Whitney Houston would go on to be haunted long after her passing by the press and in the public eye; even her death could not quell the judgement she faced for the life that she lived and choices she made.
It was not long before a picture of her lifeless body made its way into the media and encircled by endless rumours and conspiracy theories.
8 years on and there is alleged fresh evidence come to light that she was in fact murdered in that hotel. Would a 3rd party involved in her death make it any less tragic? More so? More questions? Taint her story more or less. With her daughter since passed, who is left to carry the burden of whether it matters anymore?
Shouldn’t she just be left now in peace no matter the circumstances in which she found herself there? Do surviving family/ interested parties genuinely seek the truth, or is there an agenda?
Much like the rest of the story there are no direct answers and perhaps we will never know; maybe the truth is just too ugly and we are protected in our ignorance and unknowing states; that therefore begs the question where is the justice?
For a woman so revered and loved by her fans and for her friends, her family, those that truly loved her unconditionally, is there any justice to be had? Or do we all go forth accepting it for what it is, a very sad end to a brilliant and tragic life no matter the exact circumstances that brought that end about.
For me I will continue to play Whitney records and watch The Bodyguard for as long as I am here. Mainly because I am a creature of habit and stubborn so my music collection has stayed the same now since I was 15, why change something when it is so good?
Although, the majority of my icons are now dead… so perhaps I should look for some new current inspiration…absolutely not, there will never be another Whitney, Tupac, Marley so why even bother?
I am grateful that the soundtrack to my life is provided by Whitney’s music catalogue and there is great comfort to be found in the ‘Voice’.
Next up we will look at a less tragic part of my world and delve into a terrible obsession with Motorcycle’s.