My friend Rev. Jesse Jackson sent me this note after the death of Whitney Houston:
There is a hole in the sky and void in the music world. Like the rest of the world I am terribly shocked and saddened by the passing of Ms. Whitney Houston. I watched her grow up singing in the church choir under the leadership of Rev. Thomas. Whitney was one of the outstanding voices of our time. Her mother also is an outstanding singer, singing with the phenomenal group the Sweet Inspiration.
Rev. Jesse Jackson was on his way to the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey where Houston grew up singing in their church choir as did her mother, Cissy Houston, also a Grammy-winning singer. He went to pray and worship with Pastor Joe A. Carter.
The 48-year-old Houston was found dead in her Beverly Hills hotel room on Saturday night, on the eve of the Grammy Awards. She had been scheduled to attend a pre-Grammy party that evening thrown by her mentor Clive Davis.
Houston was not only a singer, but broke down barriers as one of the first African-American featured on the cover of the teen magazine, Seventeen.
Her starring opposite Kevin Costner in her film debut, "The Bodyguard" (1992), also broke barriers as an interracial love story and was highly praised by film critic Roger Ebert. Although there had been interracial couples in films before, "The Bodyguard" was different because it wasn't a comedy. It was a drama, a romantic suspense/thriller.
"The Bodyguard" featured Whitney's cover of the Dolly Parton song "I Will Always Love You." Dolly's version of the song was not well-known. Whitney's cover won her a Grammy and a video of her in a white gown singing that song opened the 54th Grammy Awards tonight.
As her mother Cissy Houston, her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, her godmother Aretha Franklin and the rest of the the world mourn Whitney Houston's passing, her death is also a wake up call for all of us to reach out to those we know and love, whether they seek our help or not. We live in a society where independence and privacy are prized. Often we are too independent. Too proud to ask for help. Too private.
Don't hold back with the Whitney Houston, the Don Cornelius, the Amy Winehouse, the Michael Jackson, the Anna Nicole Smith in your life. Be the one to step forward to help. To make a difference.