The Greatest Love of All

Image via Wikipedia

If I should stay, 
I would only be in your way. 
So I’ll go, but I know 
I’ll think of you ev’ry step of the way. 
Bittersweet memories 
that is all I’m taking with me. 
So, goodbye. Please, don’t cry. 
I will always love you. 

–  Excerpt from Whitney Houston’s monster hit, “I Will Always Love You”

Another vanishing-point talent has left us.  Just like the late Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston was an extremely gifted singer who transcended racial limitations.  While I was not a big fan of hers, I am still in awe of her musical accomplishments.  It is only rightful that we look back at Whitney and her amazing career.

W – Wide vocal range.  At her best, no one could beat Whitney’s mezzo-soprano.  Her highest note was recorded at C6, B-b5 (In her song ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’), with her lowest note at C3, E3.  Her vocal range spans 5 octaves.

H – Honored and revered.  Her list of awards include two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, and 22 American Music Awards.  She carries a rich family tradition of excellence, being the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston and cousin of one of the biggest hitmakers of the rock and roll era, Dionne Warwick.

I – Inspirational.    Artists who claim to have been influenced and inspired by Whitney’s exploits include Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Jennifer Hudson, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Regine Velasquez, and Charice Pempengco.

T – Trailblazer.  Whitney broke down the color barrier for black female artists, just like Michael Jackson did with MTV.  Janet Jackson and Anita Baker then followed her lead.

N – Number one hitmaker.  Whitney’s debut album, “Whitney Houston, is the first album by a female artist and new artist to yield three No. 1 singles―”Saving All My Love For You”, “How Will I Know”, and “Greatest Love of All”.

When the fourth single “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” from her second album “Whitney, reached the top of the charts on April 23, 1988, Houston became the first female artist to achieve four No. 1 singles from one album, and also the first and only artist in pop history to have seven consecutive No. 1 hits.  Her second album’s number ones also include  “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”,  and “So Emotional”.  To top it all, “I Will Always Love You” topped the Hot 100 for fourteen consecutive weeks from November 28, 1992 to February 27, 1993, making it the longest-running number one single ever by a female solo artist.

E – Ecumenical.  Whitney’s universal appeal transcends races, generations, and musical genres, particularly among females.  At the height of her popularity, no amateur singing contest was complete without a rendition of her songs.

Y – Yodeler.  Whitney can easily transition from a normal voice to a falsetto, and back again.  This ability was clearly exhibited in her rendition of “I Will Always Love You”.  While this does not sit well for some critics, it still distinguishes her voice from other artists, even if the likes of Christina Aguilera later followed suit.

It’s hard to say goodbye to a great artist.  But Whitney’s hits live on and are now part of our history.  While she may not have lived a perfect life, she will serve as an icon for aspiring singers in the years to come.

Thanks for the music, Whitney Houston.


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