It was spring 1985. And I was in the spring of my adolescence. I was in sixth grade and hung with a motley crew of girls in my homeroom class from A.B. Hill Elementary. We were a rag tag bunch that ran the whole continuum from - uber-developed, gum popping, neck twisting, back talking fast girls to quiet, preppy dressing, mom-still-combs-my-hair, pony-tail-wearing good girls. Looking back on it, we had little in common other than we despised adult supervision and imagined we could
sing, sang our tone-deaf heads off. Our mornings were spent bragging about what music videos we had seen or sharing song lyrics that we had scribbled on notebook paper the night before while listening to the radio and any free moment during the day (in the hallway, at lunch and afterschool) we were singing, squealing, and talking.
It was then that I heard one of my friends singing a melody I didn't recognize.
You give good love, to me. Never too much. Take this heart of mine. Into your hands.
I couldn't place it. She even told me the artist: Whitney Houston, you know. Whitney Houston. I didn't know I obviously was slipping.
But the next morning I heard the song playing on the radio. And there it was. This really lovely and sweet love song. Not long after that I finally saw the video. And then she became real, Miss Whitney Houston. A very young singing prodigy who everyone was all gaga over. Seems her mother was a famous singer and she had other famous singing relations, like Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin, so everyone just talked about how much this new artist was a big deal. And she was.
Her first album included hits like her debut single You Give Good Love, Saving All My Love For You and All At Once. I knew she was spectacular when I heard her cover of The Greatest Love. She sang that classic ballad like it was her own. How Will I Know was her first up tempo song. But her voice was so amazing and so powerful, it made perfect sense that she sang ballads and songs about love and relationships. That was her thing and everyone loved her for it because she excelled!
I was completely dumbfounded when it was announced that she and Bobby Brown were dating. I just didn't see them together. For one, she was older than he was; and her stage presence was so refined and mature. Bobby Brown seemed the complete opposite. However, they married and had a child and they definitely stayed together through the highs and lows. When Bravo produced the show Being Bobby Brown, many of her fans saw a whole new side to Ms. Houston and then the attraction between the two volatile stars didn't seem so mismatched.
I don't know if Bobby corrupted Whitney or not; and at this juncture I don't care. Whitney was an exceptional talent. Despite her raucous behavior I still expected her to get back on track. And she's such a national treasure I easily imagined she would have received a Kennedy Center Honors one day. But alas, she's gone and I admit I was quite choked up when I heard the news.
Rest in Peace, Whitney!