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Matthew Lynch, Ed.D.

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Living Legends: Paying Homage to the Late-Great Whitney Houston

Posted: 02/15/2012 12:11 pm

It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I write this edition of "Living Legends." On February 11, 2012, the world lost one its greatest voices, Whitney Elizabeth Houston. As far as my series goes, she was definitely on my "wish list" of people that I dreamed of interviewing. Since "Living Legends" was created to spotlight people who are considered to be at the avant-garde of their perspective fields, it seemed appropriate to posthumously write a piece on Whitney.

During her illustrious career, Whitney Houston released seven albums and three movie soundtracks, which all went diamond, multi-platinum, platinum or gold. She also won two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, and 22 American Music Awards, for a total of over 415 career awards. Houston holds the Guinness World Record as the most-awarded female act of all time. She was also one of the world's best-selling music artists, and sold over 170 million albums in her lifetime.

If you're naming the top the five voices of our generation, Whitney Houston's name should be on the top of the list, along with Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. Houston was a mezzo-soprano with an octave range that most female singers could only dream of possessing. Whitney Houston's talent and dedication to her craft was the epitome of excellence, and she will be remembered as one of the greats.

As an 80's baby, I remember attending family gatherings in which Houston's music, among others, was a mainstay. Young girls wanted to be her, and young boys had a crush on her, including me. Her hit song, "Greatest Love of All," taught me to dream and persevere, and I always get chills when she exclaims "If I fail, if I succeed, at least I live as I believe. No matter what they take from me, they can't take away my dignity. Because the greatest love of all, is happening to me. I found the greatest love of all, inside of me."

However, Houston's life was not perfect, but whose life is? Over the years, Houston's voice and career deteriorated as a result of years of drug use and a volatile marriage. It pained me as a fan to see her voice grow smaller, scratchier and less confident. In an attempt to honor Whitney's legacy, I refuse to focus on the negative aspects of her life. However, I think that it is important to acknowledge these painful facts in the hopes that it will serve as a cautionary tale for today's youth. We are seeing children all over the world embrace a "live fast, die young" mentality, and maybe Houston's life story will be a wake up call.

Tomorrow is not promised, and it's important that we live everyday to the fullest with no regrets. I think that it gives us all solace to know that Whitney was making a comeback with the upcoming Sparkle movie. Also, there were reports that she was in talks to serve as a judge in an offshoot of American Idol. Like many of us, it seems that Houston was looking for redemption and trying to find her way "back home." I sincerely hope that she found both.

Whitney now joins the pantheon of singers and entertainers who died too soon. She was my generation's Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, and Patti Labelle, all rolled into one angelic voice. It would take the average singer 10 lifetimes to accomplish what she achieved in 48 years. I could go on and on about her accomplishments and the accolades she received, but even that would not do her legacy justice. Despite her passing, she is still a "Living Legend," as her fans across the globe will never let her legacy die. Rest in peace, Whitney Elizabeth Houston; we will always love you.

 
 
 

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