When I was a child, I was a fan of Whitney Houston. Then again, it seemed like most everyone I knew was a fan of Whitney Houston. She achingly expressed pain and heartbreak and was superb at putting into words how to best communicate love to someone. By the time she was portraying a singer in need of a bodyguard in 1992’s The Bodyguard I think much of the world was deeply enamored with her.

Yet a mere twenty years later, I am sad to say that my first reaction was not hysterical disbelief when my wife called me out from the living room to tell me Whitney had passed away at the young age of forty-eight:

Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen told KABC-TV that Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. (local time) in her room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton. Her body remained in the hotel and Beverly Hills detectives were investigating.

Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster, said Saturday that the cause of her death was unknown.

I am really disappointed in how her career turned. She really was at a sort of high point around The Bodyguard. I am particularly sad to have seen the kind of antics that were captured for the reality television loving audience on the show Being Bobby Brown. I can only hope that it was entirely fake and that she was behaving as she was behaving on the show for the sake of ratings and not because she really thought the things she was expressing. Perhaps, for example, the producer told her that ridiculing her husband would make for good ratings. That led to this well played scene:

Much like the beautiful, and yet ultimately tragically too short life of Michael Jackson, Whitney Jackson was headed for destruction based on the choices that she made. As much as it would have been more pleasant, as it were, to believe that Houston passed away from more natural causes, my online readings are telling me something very different:

On Thursday, Houston dropped by the rehearsals to offer vocal tips for Brandy and Monica, who were slated to be one of the evening’s headliners.

Press, including The Times, were in attendance for a junket with the reunited R&B divas and Davis. Though Houston greeted people her with a warm smile, she appeared disheveled in mismatched clothes and hair that was dripping wet with either sweat or water.

The visibly bloated singer displayed erratic behavior throughout the afternoon — flailing her hands frenetically as she spoke to Brandy and Monica, skipping around the ballroom in a child-like fashion and wandering aimlessly about the lobby. It was mentioned by a Grammy staffer that security personnel received calls of the singer doing handstands by the pool.

We do not always have to be our past. Although our past certainly has tremendous influence on us, we are who we choose to be every day. A lifetime of charitable stinginess can be overcome with one outstretched palm. We are the sum of the choices we make every day. It is rather unfortunate and a tremendous deprivation of beautiful music we could have heard that we lost Whitney Houston.


  1. It’s difficult to summon an ounce of sympathy for her, Gordon. She had everything and all the talent — and none of it was enough for her. She chose drugs and a hard life over moral living — and she was surrounded by enablers and “Yes” people.

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