F.A.M.E NYC Remembers Whitney Houston

As I sit here to write this, I am still shocked and saddened by the tragedy that happened last weekend that compels me to write this.  Since the untimely passing of Whitney Houston the media has delivered daily coverage of the days and events leading up to her death and details about her funeral.  They have spoken to every celebrity, doctor and spokesperson that is willing and/or authorized to speak about her and the investigation into her death.  They have discussed her meteoric rise to iconic status and are also just as quick to talk about her struggles in an effort to remain fair.  But F.A.M.E NYC won’t spend any time on those topics.

Some stars have the ability to touch your heart and soul more than others, even if you have never met them.  Whitney Houston was one of those stars that touched me.  Anyone that follows F.A.M.E NYC knows that I am from New Jersey and like Whitney Houston I am a native of Newark.  For many reasons I felt close to Whitney Houston.  I was raised in a musical family like she was.  I was raised in the Baptist faith as she was.  I also sang in the youth choir at my church as she did.  I had aspirations to model because I saw models like her and others gracing the covers of magazines breaking down barriers and becoming inspirations.  I also have had to tussle with demons, though I was fortunate that I didn’t have the world weighing in on how I battled mine.  I am born a day before for her and saw so much of my personality in her.

I am deeply hurt at her passing.  Music provides an aural animation to our lives.  It bears witness to our triumphs and trails.  It sinks into our souls providing salve when we are aching, elation when our hearts palpitates with joy.  It finds the words for feelings we sometimes can’t describe.  Whitney Houston’s voice is the essence of what music is.  With a turn of a phrase, a rise and fall in her voice, she could do all those things and more.  But if you ask me, if you really wanted to know what Whitney Houston was all about, all you had to do was listen to her sing a gospel song.  Whitney was a child of God and her love for the creator was evident when she sang for the lord, which I believe was every time she opened her mouth.  I remember the first time I heard her rendition of “I Love the Lord,” from The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack.  Tears flowed from my eyes before I was cognizant that I was crying.  In that instant, she took me back to time of simplicity when the shadows of life were much farther away than they are now, when agape love was a tangible thing.  She took me back to those times when I sang in the choir and my greatest joy was to lift my voice in service to God.  There was a purity and power in her voice that was unparalleled and will never be duplicated.  At her best, Whitney’s voice was God’s blessing; I wonder if Gabriel’s trumpet sounds any sweeter.

It has bothered me to see how much people, whether in the media or on social media sites, have focused so much on the darker days of her life rather than the light she gave to all of us.  It is an ill of this society that negativity seems to be as easy to accept as the air we breathe.  Opinions are a right of being human, but we are all familiar with the phrase, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”  None of us are without our own crucible that we must contend with, but we don’t have the added burden by being crucified by the public.  She was a public figure, yes this is very true, but she was also was a mother, daughter, sister, cousin, wife and friend.  There are people that will have to deal with the process of grief long after we have moved on to the next story.

I will end this by saying FAMERS please try to remember Whitney Houston by the pleasure she gave you rather than pain she gave herself.   I will always love Whitney Houston, not just the voice, but woman that she was…the human that she was.  Whitney, my God keep you in his bosom until you are reunited with all those you loved again.

These are my favorite Whitney Houston songs:

Photo courtesy of Whitney Houston.com

Diddy Honored by BET

On Monday BET aired the third annual BET Honors, an award show taped on January 16 in Washington, D.C. recognizing individuals within the black community achieving excellence within their perspective fields as well as exemplifying the mantra “Giving back to give forward.”  Actress Gabrielle Union hosted the event for the second time.

Harlem native Sean “Diddy” Combs received the Entrepreneur Award; an accolade befitting him because more than anyone in the entertainment industry, Diddy is an entrepreneur.  Known for making a way out of no way, Diddy went from being a dancer to a mogul.  His accomplishments are shining examples that affirm if one has a dream and is willing to grind hard to achieve that dream; it will one day become a reality.  Bad Boy, Justin’s, Ciroc (yes the man has his own alcohol) and Sean John – from movies to music to the runway nothing is out of Diddy’s grasp.  He is the true personification of the phrase “Veni, vidi, vici.” What realm Diddy will conquer next, one only knows.  In his acceptance speech, Diddy got personal and thanked his mother Janice Combs.  He told a poignant story of  how she worked round the clock to provide for him and his sister after his father was murdered and mentioned that he wanted to make sure that she never had to work again.  Well, he has certainly managed to attain that task and more.  A famous quote of Diddy’s is “Sleep is forbidden,” this award shows that for him failure is also forbidden.  Former boss and mentor Andre Harrell and Mary J. Blige celebrated him in song.  Considering that Blige was discovered by Diddy and their work defined the genre of hip hop soul, it was a fitting tribute.

Two Jersey girls were also honored.  The original queen of hip hop, Queen Latifah, and the iconic Whitney Houston were also two of the award recipients.  Both hailing from East Orange, these living legends prove the New Jersey isn’t the “Garden State,” it is the Star State.  Taraji P. Henson presented Queen Latifah with the Media Award as Latifah has placed her mark on every facet of the industry and has the awards to prove it.  Another legend, Patti Labelle and future legend Jasmine Sullivan paid tribute to the Queen Latifah, who’s real name is Dana Owens, in song.  Gracious as always Latifah thanked her mother and father and called people to take action in the effort to bring relief to Haiti.  Pioneer, actress, singer, producer and author, Latifah has shown through tireless hard work why she was given the title of queen and on Friday she and Diddy along with Wyclef and other stars will participate in another telethon to help bring much needed aid to the survivors of the recent earthquake in Haiti. 

There are very few that have or will achieve the levels of success that Whitney Houston has, but there were some that had written this legendary vocalist off.  How sweet it is to prove haters wrong, and after being presented with the Entertainment Award by Neo, Whitney is glowing example of what a survivor really is.  In her recent comeback to the spotlight, Whitney has shown the world that her voice was not the only gift she was blessed with.  The other is a strength that I believe may have been unknown to her until it was truly tested.  Whitney says that she stays “prayed up,” and needs nothing more that her God and her child.  Thank God that we will have the pleasure to hear that wonderful voice for many years to come.  Vocal powerhouses Jennifer Hudson and Kim Burrell tore the walls of the Warner Theatere down with songs befitting a tribute to one the best voices in the entertainment industry. 

Other performers included the musical genius of Stevie Wonder, India Arie, Trey Songz, Maxwell and Take 6.  Neurosurgeon Keith Black received the Public Service Award and educator Ruth Simmons received the Education Award.