WHITNEY Houston taught the world to sing.
But one of the most tragic things about her death is the lack of surprise at it.
Media houses had Houston’s obituary written and ready to run for years.
You can pinpoint exactly where it all went wrong for Whitney Houston – meeting Bobby Brown.
Pre-bobby she was a squeaky-clean superstar hailed for one of the purest voices of our generation.
She was the antidote to auto-tune.
Post-bobby her career nose-dived as years of drug abuse ravaged her God-given talent.
It’s no surprise that Houston’s songs are regularly used on TV talent shows
– her vocal performance was of masterclass quality.
She set the yardstick for power and emotion – not an easy double.
Her voice was the benchmark, the reason millions started singing.
Even Osama bin Laden was a fan.
When Whitney met Brown in 1989 he was an R&B bad boy.
He soon dragged her down with him, corrupting her as their lives played out in a grubby soap opera, swinging from court cases, assault claims and fears for daughter Bobbi Kristina.
Who can forget a fired-up Houston telling US TV host Diane Sawyer in 2002: “Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. We don’t do crack. Crack is whack.”
And it’s hard to forget images of a skeletal Houston admitting to daily drug use in an Oprah tell-nearly-all.
Mercifully, she extricated herself from the dysfunctional relationship with Brown and it seemed Houston was getting her life back on track when Clive Davis, the record company boss who steered her career, assembled an age-appropriate collection of songs for her return-to-form album, I Turn To You, in 2009.
The next hurdle was to get her back on tour. She was a superstar from a pre-facebook, pre-twitter era, starting again in a social media age full of people who thought they were the first to write: Houston
“we have a problem.”
I went to Houston’s Rod Laver Arena concert in March 2010.
The tour had already suffered crucifixion by
Rightly or wrongly you went in half expecting a train wreck and a sea of people storming out demanding a refund.
TV cameras were waiting outside for their prey.
It’s not as sexy a story to note that while she wasn’t amazing, it was nowhere near the train smash it has been mythologised to be.
Inside was a venue full of people willing Houston on. “I’d never seen an audience so
communally behind an artist.
Everyone there knew what she’d been through.
They were just happy to see her come out the other side. Sure, she couldn’t hit the notes she did 20 or 25 years ago.
Many acts struggle to recreate notes they sang half a lifetime ago.
If people learnt how to sing from Houston, if they were inspired by her amazing songs, there’s another lesson she offers - what not to do.
She fell victim to the dark side of showbizz, the sad cliché.
Be careful what you wish for.
’ AS the world mourns Whitney Houston, her music has set the charts alight again.
And the record companies and writers of her songs are set to profit from her death last Saturday
– among them country singer Dolly Parton.
Parton (pictured) wrote I Will Always Love You in 1973. Houston recorded it for The Bodyguard almost two decades later.
As Parton (66) owns the song, she stands to earn a significant amount of money as the No.1 hit is expected to top the itunes singles chart.