Neena had a smile on her face but tears welled up in her eyes. As she wound up the nth screening of The Body Guard with her friends, I could but sit there and wonder about the amazing effect the lady on the screen had on this bunch of fierce and workaholic ladies. A simple movie with a very familiar storyline could be made this interesting was in itself an interesting fact. Ladies and gentlemen, the lady in the feature film, with amazing acting and singing talents:
Born Whitney Elizabeth Houston, on Aug 9th 1963, in the middle class neighbourhood of Newark, New Jersey, Whitney went on to be the most awarded female acts of all times. With guidance from her Gospel singer mother, she was influenced by music from an early age. By the age of 11, she was already performing in the church and growing constantly under the expert guidance of Aretha Franklin, who also happened to be her honorary aunt.
Early teenage years saw Whitney accompanying her mother to various clubs where she got her first opportunity to perform for the public. While growing into her music career, Whitney also tried her hand at modeling. Her lithe frame and very distinct girl-next-door looks got her the laurel of being the first black woman to be featured on the cover of Seventeen. By now a backup singer for Lou Rawls and Jermaine Jackson, Whitney was already on the road to musical fame while fortune awaited her as the most sought after teen model of the times.
After dealing with infinite delays and coping with initial failure, Whitney released her first self titled album in February 1985. Though starting with a lukewarm response, the album saw smashing success after a whole year after its release. With praises raining in from critics and fans alike, Whitney Houston stayed on the Billboard top 200 for a full 14 consecutive weeks. The album became an international hit going 13x platinum. Whitney Houston gathered the singer a total of seven American Music awards, a MTV video Music award and a Grammy nomination. The album till date is finds it place in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of all times and is considered one of the top 25 breakthroughs by USA Today.
Her second album, Whitney released in 1987 carried forward her legacy of success by going multi platinum and winning her a slew of awards including a Grammy. The release of successive albums would see the nascent singer mature and break almost all existing records.
The iconic The Bodyguard with a simple storyline but stellar performances by Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, became a resounding success. The soundtrack of the movie is considered the biggest selling album by a female act of all times. Buoyed by the success of The Bodyguard, in the late 90s, Houston acted in more light scripted movies and also sang on the soundtracks. The Preacher’s Wife, received a lukewarm response at the box office but the soundtrack went on to become the largest selling gospel album of all times.
By the end of the Millennium, however, the singing sensation was fading. Marred by personal problems and suspected drug abuse, Whitney was ready to release a Greatest Hits album. Her marriage to singer Bobby Brown was full of controversies and soon Whitney would be labeled the Bad Girl of the music world. The next decade would see the star being erased completely from the memories of music fans. Whitney, the multi talented singer-actress, had disappeared in the dark fog of drug induced hallucinations. Whitney Houston was over and out.
But just as the world was ready to write her off, the fighter that she was, Whitney decided to make a final comeback to what she did best-sing. Supposedly rehabilitated and looking fresh and healthy, the iconic singer was over her problems with Bobby Brown. A comeback tour was in place and everything seemed set for one of the biggest comebacks of the decade.
Alas, on Feb 11, 2012, Whitney Houston, with her fantastic voice, musical and acting talents, her simple but charming looks and a slew of records, was found dead in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Keeping alive the legacy of the big names of famous musicians, Whitney passed away her immensely popular voice and her famous talents to the power of drugs. One of the most influential singer and actress of the times, who broke more records than any other female singer ever, was gone in a jiffy. The singer who every budding singer considered an idol and whose comeback was more anticipated than perhaps the rarest stellar phenomenon left the world with nothing more than memories, unforgettable songs and a mention in perhaps every award function ever.
Whitney Houston was not just a singer or an actress but also an activist and an advocate against apartheid and black rights. Rising from a sheer middle class background, Whitney stood for every word in her most popular cover, I’m every woman. Whitney Houston will always serve to be an inspiration for every aspiring singer and actor ever. Every fan would no doubt agree when I say, I will always love you.
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