Unless you live in another solar system, you are fully aware the country recently lost an enduring diva - Whitney Houston. Since her passing, I've been asked repeatedly to come up with a Doodle Diva inspired by this tragedy.
That has been my tallest order to date.
But first . . . my two cents on Whitney Houston.
The first time I heard a Whitney Houston song was at my grandmother's house. I remember seeing the cover and thinking, "Eww. Where's her hair?"
The image lost me. But the VOICE. Wow!
Shortly thereafter, I believe Whitney Houston was my first concert ever. I saw her in Charlotte, NC years upon years upon years ago.
"How Will I Know?", "I'm Your Baby Tonight", "Saving All My Love" . . . Amazing.
And like everyone else, I witnessed Whitney's colossal shift from petite, sweet, pop princess to more urban and grittier and downright illogical:
"Bobby Brown? I'm sorry. Maybe I didn't hear you right. Whitney Houston MARRIED Bobby Brown? As in New Edition - Bobby Brown? WHAT? WHY??!"
I loved her version of "I Will Always Love You." The movie, "The Bodyguard" - not so much.
I saw acting talent in "The Preacher's Wife" and "Waiting To Exhale". And her version of the "National Anthem" is still categorically untouchable. I feel sorry for anybody who even attempts to come close.
And am I the only one who thinks Whitney Houston had one of the brightest smiles on the planet? Wow! Her smile was like a kazillion watt stadium bulb.
Then there were the rumors, the revelations, the bad decisions, the interviews, the spoofs, the disturbing candid photos, the comeback attempts, the messes. . . Yuck. Even I had long ago written Whitney Houston off as a caricature of her former self . . .
. . . a lost cause.
The reality is, Whitney turned out to be a real person, with real issues that made some real mistakes with real consequences.
So am I. Thank God there were no cameras, press conferences, and eyewitness accounts to tell the PLANET about my messes.
. . . or messes to come.
I do have to give her credit. The gal was honest - to her detriment perhaps. Her delivery left much to be desired of course, ('crack is wack' interview). But the gal voluntarily put her business on the streets - a couple times, (Oprah Winfrey interview.).
Yet in her lifetime, Whitney Houston also sold like a kazillion records, concert tickets, movie tickets, and indirectly helped launch a lot of careers:
Mariah Carey. . .
Christina Aguilera . . .
Adele . . .
Whether they realize it or not, these gals owe their hugely popular-with-the-masses r&b-with-soul-with-pop to Whitney Houston.
So what Doodle Divas design captures the spirit of Whitney Houston's passing? I went through three different illustrations, incarnations, elaborate designs, realistic depictions, spiritual depictions . . . they just all seemed very. . . busy . . . and borrowed.
It needed to be simple. It needed to say a lot with a little. It needed to get the point across without being cumbersome.
Familiar image. Different message.
I recalled how initially when I heard the news, I was in disbelief. This is a joke right? It's so random. Then it went from disbelief, to shock, to acceptance to grief.
Yet, I own zero Whitney Houston tapes, cds, downloads, movies, anything. So why did I end up shedding tears over her passing?
. . . Because Whitney Houston is on my soundtrack.
"Firsts": First kiss. First love.
Seasons and events: Senior year high school. Summer between high school and college. My first trip to Atlanta. . . .
I didn't realize Whitney Houston was on a lot of my life's soundtracks. And just as my life had evolved from naive kid at granny's dissing Whitney's nappy hair, to grown man being dissed for having NO hair his damn self, Whitney had evolved too. From industry-manufactured-bubbled-gum -"Whitened"-sanitized-safe-pop-princess to urban-r&b-soul-gritty-raw-attitude-for-days-I-don't-give-a-damn-in-your-face-DIVA!
I knew what simple Doodle Divas illustration would capture and define the essence of a diva's passing.
That being said, let he who has walked in Whitney Houston's shoes, Whitney Houston's skin, Whitney Houston's head, or Whitney Houston's life, since birth, feel free to cast the first stone. Otherwise, I and Doodle Divas choose to remember the good, the inspiring, the influential, the powerhouse, that was the diva Whitney Houston.
Rest in peace Whitney.