They both had powerful and angelic voices that defined their generations. One was a mezzo-soprano, the other an alto. Both began singing at very young ages. One came from a gospel background, the other from Vaudeville. In their singing styles, they both had an uncanny sense of rhythm, timing, phrasing, swing, soul, dynamics, and a genuine expression of the lyrics. Both had striking good looks and a movie career.
Both were called the greatest singer of their times. One was "the Voice", the other the "Entertainer of the century." With squeaky clean images, both were called "America's Sweetheart" as they sang for the troops during WWII and the Persian Gulf War.
One has a record seven consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hits and with "I Will Always Love You", the best selling single by a female artist in music history. The other with "Over The Rainbow" sang the number one movie song of all time.
Both had tumultuous personal lives with unhappy marriages, health problems, lateness, canceled concerts, weight issues, and rumors of drug and alcohol abuse.
Sadly, both died young (at 47 and 48) after numerous attempts at sobriety and roaring back with concert tours and movies before finally succumbing to the final curtain call. Ironically, both were found unconscious in bathrooms. Both left behind teenage daughters (as well as two other siblings for one).
However, their legacies will not be how their lives ended, but how they shared their immense musical talents with the world. By now you know I am speaking of Whitney Houston (1963-2012) and Judy Garland (1922-1969). These are two soul sisters who led parallel lives through different moments in time.
Judy was Queen during the Golden Age of the MGM Musical. Whitney reigned as the "Queen of Pop" during the Golden Era of the MTV Video.
They both had sublime voices that transcended time and space and they could deliver a song in a way that could transform you forever. They inhabited their music and their lyrics and through YouTube, MTV, and CDs (a few months ago Judy released a fabulous new CD from the Great Beyond where her voice never sounded better titled "The London Studio Recordings") their artistry will live on.
Somewhere over the rainbow, these two great icons are meeting and competing to see who will be the lead singer with the Heavenly Choir. We are all blessed for having heard and seen them in our lifetimes. They set the standard from which others followed and will continue to emulate. Rather than get caught up with all the media hoopla and drama, let us celebrate their extraordinary lives and be thankful for the God given gifts they shared with us all.
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