I didn’t want to believe the black Barbie was going down a road reserved for rock stars and bad boys of R&B. Many people blame Houston’s struggles on Bobby Brown, to whom she was married from 1992 to 2007, but she was an individual who made her own decisions.
On July 21, 2009, I attended a listening session for her I Look to You album, which was hosted by Clive Davis at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. The event was packed with stars such as Alicia Keys, Diane Sawyer and Martha Stewart. At the end, Houston, who looked healthy, grateful and beautiful, took the stage and gave a small speech.
Only a few feet away from her, I was starstruck and just stared, hoping I could soak in just a dab of her talent. I whispered to my friend, nearly in awe, “That’s Whitney Houston!” The crowd cheered; she was loved more than ever.
Now that she’s gone, the first few lines of “I Will Always Love You” are eerie: “If I should stay/I would only be in your way/So I’ll go, but I know/I’ll think of you every step of the way/And I will always love you.”
Rest in peace, Whitney Houston.
Clay Cane is a New York-based journalist. Follow him on Twitter.