Whitney Houston Was Special From the Start
In a CNN opinion piece, culture writer Gene Seymour compares hearing Whitney Houston's voice for the first time to the most memorable points in a person's life. He says that encountering such greatness is rare.
We now live in an age when glamorous, hey-look-at-me belters so dominate the pop-music firmament that you can barely tell who's doing the shouting. So it may be hard for some to remember -- or imagine -- what it was like to behold Whitney Houston for the first time. Not even your first taste of snow, your first meaningful kiss, your first encounter with one of the seven natural wonders quite aligns with the experience -- unless as some rough combination of all three.
As many who grieved over Houston's shocking death yesterday at 48 will tell you, this first encounter would have taken place somewhere in the middle of the "Morning in America" years. Indeed, she seemed destined for greatness even before she released her first eponymous album for Clive Davis' Arista Records in 1985. The word was out years before that Houston had the presence, the pedigree and -- goodness knows -- the pipes to be something unprecedented, remarkable, even historic.
Daughter of the great soul-and-gospel vocalist Cissy Houston, cousin to both Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick and goddaughter to Aretha Franklin, Houston's family background seemed a magically appropriate fusion of both the grit and the glamour of late-20th-century African-American pop music. You couldn't find a more auspicious template for great expectations. And for a while, she fulfilled those prospects -- and then some.
Read Gene Seymour's entire story at CNN.