Monday, February 13, 2012

Find Your Strength in Love

Before I begin, I'm sending out my deepest condolences to Whitney Houston's family, friends, and colleagues.

I'd like to start by telling my own Whitney story. Whitney was the first pop star I can remember entering my world. "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" was one of the songs I would sing and dance to in the living room as a child. Whitney was pretty, talented, and famous. She was everything. Her famous rendition of the Star Spangled Banner in 1991 is the standard for every performer who ever sang or will ever sing the song in the future. That performance was perfection. Her face as she hit that last note was one of pure joy. I saw The Bodyguard, and even though it was not the best movie ever made, she was fascinating in it. She really brought her all into that role. The movie is a classic, and her version of "I Will Always Love You" will live on forever. I was always very inspired by her voice and the quality of her songs.

The turmoil began when she married Bobby Brown in 1992. Right away people judged their relationship - she was the good girl and he was the bad boy. Why anyone was surprised by this, I'll never know. It's a classic tale and happens every day. Their bond brought us some songs and videos of them declaring their love for each other despite the haters, but mostly, it brought bad press and ridicule. They had one daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993.

Wendy Williams interviewed Whitney on her radio show in 2003 and the two famously went at it about her erratic behavior and alleged drug use.

The drug use during their marriage was confirmed by Whitney herself on the Oprah Winfrey talk show in 2009. At this point, Whitney was making steps to come back to the spotlight with her album, I Look to You. She had some success with this album, but not nearly enough to spur the comeback everyone wanted for her.

Since then, it had been more tabloid attention than anything else. Especially when she started dating Ray J, the brother of singer Brandy, and more famously, Kim Kardashian's sex tape co-star.

When I heard Whitney had passed away, I was immediately angry. It happened again. Yes, I jumped to the conclusion that she was under the influence of something when she passed. But, truthfully, that's not such an unreasonable conclusion to jump to. I was angry that we had lost another diva to substance abuse. Isn't anyone else as angry as I am?

This has to stop. I don't know why people want to pretend as if she didn't have a problem. It was well-documented and painfully obvious. I'm not going to act as if this wasn't a factor in Whitney's death. I also want to know where the hell Ray J was during all this. There are a lot of stories about the night before Whitney died. According to some, they were partying, and she got into a verbal (and possibly physical) altercation with Stacy Francis from X Factor. The only thing we know for sure at this point is that she sang with Kelly Price on stage at a party Thursday night, and according to Kelly, she was drinking champagne.

I guess what infuriates me the most is that Whitney needed help for quite some time. I know some, like her mentor, Clive Davis, tried to help her as much as he could, but nothing really worked. It's the same way I feel about Amy Winehouse's death. So sad, because it could have been prevented. Is this what fame does to people? Is this the inevitable fate a diva must face? No. I refuse to believe that.

Case in point, Adele, who won big at the Grammys last night. Also, Jennifer Hudson. Not to mention, Aretha Franklin, and so many others who haven't succumbed to the dark side of fame, which typically includes some sort of addiction. So, what makes one person fall into that deep abyss of addiction, while others stay safely away from that cliff? I don't have the answers. I can only implore the young performers out there to learn from these tragic examples. Don't let this happen to you. Please.

I also want to take this opportunity to ask Bobbi Kristina to stay strong and know that we all want the best for you. Bobbi was rushed to the hospital this weekend.

I would love to read your Whitney memories and your thoughts on addiction and fame. Tweet me.