Whitney Elizabeth Houston
(August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012)
Story by Matthew Shack
I remember the first time I heard that voice... it was on the radio.
I remember the first time I saw that face... it was on a cassette cover
The year was 1985 and I had a serious crush.
At age 22, Whitney Houston had Ford Model features with Patti LaBelle's pipes.
She was a media darling and well on her way to superstardom.
And she achieved all that and then some.
With over 170 million albums sold, along with singles and videos worldwide, Whitney Houston is the most awarded female artist ever, according to Guinness World Records.
This incredible list of hardware includes two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010.
At her peak, she took our 198 year old beloved National Anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner" shortly after a jaw-dropping rendition at Super Bowl XXV to the top of the charts in 1991.
This staggering feat caused her cousin, the legendary Dionne Warwick to say to her, "Girl what's next, the phone book?"
America was in love with Whitney Houston, she was definitely "the girl next door".
Sadly, somewhere along the way, Whitney began to lose that career sustaining notoriety with her mainstream audience.
Her marriage to Bobby Brown deteriorated, her long documented drug use became uncontrollable coupled with her mercurial public behavior, all but cinched her downward spiral.
Through it all, Whitney Houston only became more enduring to us in the hip-hop culture.
We identified with her as more of our cousin, aunt or sister instead of a icon.
Whitney was not only a superstar, she was one of us.
Whitney Houston was family.
We often prayed for her to regain health and reclaim her title as the greatest female vocalist alive while taking back her career with a vengeance.
Because regardless of her circumstances, we all knew she could STILL sing her ass off and we wanted her to be on top, once again.
Over the years we had heard minor rumblings of a major comeback in the works with her mentor, Clive Davis.
With the release of the remake of the film "Sparkle" co-starring Jordin Sparks in August 2012, Whitney will be back on top.
Unfortunately, she won't be with us to see it all come to fruition.
The "Voice" has left the building and she built a skyscraper.
Whitney... we will always love you.