It is with extraordinary sadness that we have to share the following information …
Whitney Houston, who reigned as pop music's queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died. She was 48.
Publicist Kristen Foster said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.
The tragedy herein has to do with the first sentence of this quotation. Whitney Houston was one of the brightest superstars of a generation, a cross-genre sensation that spoke to audiences everywhere. Her voice was lauded as a treasure, a gift. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, even after all the fame and fortune, after her "tumultuous marriage," that she didn't even recognize what she had. Crafted into a pop creation by the mind of Clive Davis, her accomplishments were numerous. She's lauded as "the most awarded female act of all time, according to Guinness World Records, and her list of awards include 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010. Houston is also one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 170 million albums and singles worldwide." She's a member of a musical family that includes mother Cissy Houston, cousins Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick and godmother Aretha Franklin. She is the only artist to chart seven consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits. The numbers add up to a fairly impressive standing that's virtually peerless.
However, Whitney's importance to Black people was not something you can count in numbers. A dazzling presence that was equal parts church and girl next door, finding the fit of glamour and fashion as comfortable as a second skin. The more ghetto aspects of her personality did nothing to dull her appeal to her core audience. We watched the drug use and the downward spiral through her relationship with Bobby Brown, each bringing out the worst in each other, and saw mirrors in our own lives. We all had aunts in bad relationships, sisters who fell into patterns of abuse, friends who made fools of themselves through bad choices.
Whitney was ours, right or wrong, and losing her is like losing a part of ourselves. They didn't report her death through her triumphs, but through her failings, and we wouldn't have done her like that. With a role in a remake of Sparkle alongside Jordin Sparks and a rumored judging spot on The X-Factor, Whitney was poised to continue her path towards redemption, towards showing us there was a way back from the farthest reaches of the precipice. We're all too saddened to find out she couldn't make it.
She was far from perfect, she was surely no example for many … but she was ours, and we're sorry she's gone. In the words of our Kemetic forebears, we say anedge hirak Whitney Elizabeth Houston, and thank you.