Inner Michael » Whitney


 “Golden throated,” “silver tongued,” soaring vocals,” angelic voice,” are all phrases that journalists and writers have used or coined to describe something that is generated in a tiny space in the human larynx that makes extended vocal utterances sound like an instrument.

I won’t even try to come up with something original or clever to describe Whitney Houston’s voice because there is possibly no description that would fit. Whitney was a stunningly beautiful woman with a voice to match– no, to exceed any description. Some people, when referring to Whitney’s vocal ability called her simply: “the voice.”

When we think of the iconic “I Will Always Love You,” we do not think of country nor Dolly Parton who wrote it. We think of the movie “The Bodyguard” and singer Whitney Houston. There are very few singers who could do that song justice since Houston memorialized it. Jennifer Hudson comes to mind and she did just that at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards last night. Her performance was particularly stunning as it was obvious she was struggling to hold back tears. LL Cool J said “we have lost another of our own, our family…” and it was clear that something besides celebration was in the air at the annual tribute to the best of that music family. The sadness hung jn heavy invisible veils over the audience and stage. The Grammy producers must have found themselves in the most untenable of positions– a muisical icon had permanently exited the stage only a few hours before the airing of the biggest music award show in the industry as that someone was in the city waiting to be a part of that celebration. They had to acknowledge the passing of a great and an icon but how could they do that justice within such a tiny window of time? Of course, it was Jennifer Hudson who pulled it off. Who else could have?

Nobody sounds like Whitney Houston and nobody ever sang the “Star Spangled Banner” with that much emotion and those chops when Houston sang the nation’s patriotic and emblematic song at Superbowl XXV in 1991. The camera caught a single tear on the face of a soldier and guard who had to maintain his composure at attention. That one tear says a lot about how moving her performance was.

How do they pull it off? People like Mariah Carey at Michael Jackson’s funeral and Jennifer Hudson at Whitney Houston’s tribute at the Grammies holding it together while singing through your own grief can’t be easy. Bobbie Brown reportedly broke down during his concert and Whitney’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown has been hospitalized twice since her mother’s death.

Many have reached out to Houston’s family including “Bodyguard” Co-star Kevin Cosner and a figure iconic himself in history and memory, Nelson Mandela. She was introduced to Mandela by Bill Clinton and immediately became an activist and crusader for Mandela’s release and the demise of Apartheid.

Jennifer Hudson pays homage to Whitney Houston at the 54th Grammy Awards

The death of an icon is always a boon for the ratings– TV, the music industry (everybody flocks to buy the music collection,) radio and talk shows, and especially the tabloids. They will of course, focus on the “tragic figure” part of the story. Whitney Houston’s struggles will become tabloid fodder for at least the next week. No story will be written even in mainstream media about Houston that does not reference her “demons” or her “struggles,” the “troubled singer” and certainly the rocky relationship that reportedly changed her life. Certainly there will be talk of “the fall of an icon,” or the “downward tragectory” of her life. And that will occur before the release of any toxicology reports that may or may not contain pharmaceuticals.

I hope Michael Jackson fans will watch the unfolding of this story that most certainly will reference him and draw parallels where there aren’t any. But it’s not just the commentary of Michael Jackson by association that is offensive, it is the practice of profiting off someone’s death by continuing to vilify or darken their legacy by focusing on the negative or heartbreak in their lives.

People who don’t understand that drug abuse is an illness not a moral judgment about a person or their personality, will talk through their hats instead of their heads or from other more aptly “colorful” parts of their anatomy. Drugs do not discriminate; they are an equal opportunity killer. And there may be another doctor behind the scenes whose lifestyle was supported better by subscriptions than by a referral to treatment. But that is all speculation at this time. We may be in for a surprise like the one in Amy Winehouse’s death where the talking heads were certain she dies of a drug overdose. There is never any apology by those “heads” when they’re wrong, ever notice that? TV pundits are asking about Whitney: “is this the final chapter in a lifelong battle with drugs?”

The real issue is what we expect from stars and those we consider icons or divas– perfection. That is not fair. It’s also what we feel we are entitled to because we “know them.” That illusion of intimacy is deliberately cultivated by and courtesy of, the tabloids and the clever use of language. The theory that scandal sells, is more appealing to an audience has to be deconstructed if the tabloids are ever to cease their dismemberment only for a windfall– in cash.

There seems to be a glaring disconnect in the media when listening to their commentary and in particular the question: “Why do so many celebrities succumb to chemicals? They cite fame and privilege and even “a sense of entitlement” or feeling that they (celebrities) can do whatever they want without consequence. There is no acknowledgment that they live in a fishbowl and all their trial and tribulations (the same ones that plague ordinary people) are exposed for all the world to see by the very people asking that (stupidly naive masquerading as innocent) question. Hello, is anybody home? Is anybody awake? Or human? Or better yet– humane?

The “Voice” herself:

So I hope that Michael fans will watch this story as it unfolds and make it a point to comment on websites like CNN, ABC, NBC, and so on when the reporting becomes tabloid-esque. Not only should fans complain to the tabloids themselves when Michael is mentioned and compared in the aftermath of Houston’s death, but even if Michael is not mentioned, we all need to complain about the abysmal treatment of celebrity by the media. And not just for Whitney but ANYTIME the media bullies someone. Complaints should request, no demand, that speculation, innuendo, gossip, lies and focus on scandal and sensationalizing stop.

Bottom line is that if there was no market, there would be no mass pilgrimage to spectacles like the Michael Jackson trial. The market dries up whan the spectators stop watching. Christians would not have been thrown to the lions and gladiators would not have fought to the death nor suffered a fate ficklely administered by a simple “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” hand signal. That little cynically brilliant piece of audience participation kept spectators coming and people dying in the coliseums and theaters of blood where sport translated to sadism. Todays tabloids are but an extension of that blood sport (dismemberment publicly in the round) or the continuation of modern day lynching.

Complain, complain, complain! And encourage others to complain or it won’t stop because there will be no reason for it to end. Or for them to stop creating the climate. If you’ve ever engaged in the debate about what came first the chicken or the egg, you’ll have more entertainment in the question:”What came first– the taste for sadistic stories about stars, public figures and celebrities or the climate for it?” Is the taste for blood already lodged on the human palate or has a culture been created that by rote and repetition which deliberately feeds the shadow side of human nature that supports the tabloid industry? Anyone who has spent time researching the industry or working in it (which burns people out quickly and fosters self loathing as the lust for power is recognized and weighed in conscience after an epiphany of guilt and remorse) will tell you the cultivation is deliberate. Its appeal to the base and common denominator is calculated, deliberate and forceful. The rewards for dismembering a celebrity with some juicy tidbit are a padded expense account and smug high fives during drinks after work. What drives paparazzi is not a taste for revealing what is in the public interest or advancing the culture or race, but “the” six figure money shot– the pinnacle of which is the last known photo of a star before death (or during its occurence as the slime on two legs took with the camera’s lens propped against the glass of the ambulance trying to manuveur backing out of Michael Jackson’s driveway to rush him to the hospital in order to save his life, without taking someone else’s as spectators and papparazzi clamored around the vehicle preventing its exit.)

Paparrazi make no distinction in who they hunt and who they bully. They are after that money shot photo and nobody is going to get in their way and nothing is going to stop them– not safety, not law enforcement, not a respect and care for children, not decency and certainly not civility. Not even the children are safe from invasion of privacy.
Paparazzi stalk children

Threatening lawsuits, or legal action by law enforcement or the courts doesn’t work. The tabloids calculate the cost of violating rules and laws into their budgets. They expect, and plan for lawsuits and legal challenges.

Celebrity gossip must become obsolete or unattractive. That began to happen in the summer of 2011 when it was revealed that Rupert Murdoch’s minions at News of the World whose parent is News Corp, regularly hacked the phones and emails of celebrities and subjects of interest– including a murdered teenager making all the news at the moment. It was revealed that Rebecca Brooks, editor of the newspaper gifted the family with a cell phone in the tragedy to enhance and expedite their communication during their search for their (already dead) child that was later learned to be also hacked by her very institution.

MJ fans can use their voice to make their displeasure known at every opportunity. Whitney Houston was tabloid fodder for the last several years and made the hacks lots of money so I think not only Michael, but Whitney herself would approve. It might just make for her best eulogy in what looks like another otherwise senseless death.

May you rest in peace, beautiful Whitney and may your legacy be indeed “the Voice.”


Jermaine Jackson knew Whitney Houston probably better than anybody. He was her long time friend and mentor and as he revealed in his book “You Are Not Alone: Michael [Jackson] Through a Brother’s Eyes, he came very close to being more, much more. Here is what Jermaine had to say about Whitney’s death:



  1. Robbie M said . . .

    The link to Michael has already started. In today`s edition of Murdoch`s trash tabloid “The Sun, bottom left corner of the front page, a piece of speculation that Whitney Houston was on “Jacko`s drugs”. On the online version of the paper more comments that she was “popping the same pills as Michael Jackson. No surprise to most of us sadly. I pray her soul finds peace, which is more than her memory will with the tabloids in full throttle.

    Posted February 13, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Permalink
  2. S. L. Trout said . . .

    When speaking about circumstances like the death of celebrities I generally respond to those who focus on the swirling rumors about drug abuse by asking them, “What makes you think that drug abuse was the reason for their passing? Do you just believe everything you hear and read before an investigation can take place and the facts presented?” I have to ask, “Are our lives so predictable and ordinary that in order to feel alive we have to obsess about the rich and famous and revel in the negative and spurious?”

    When I heard that the ugliest rag of all had put a photo of Whitney in her casket on their cover, I just felt the breath leave my lungs in abject despair. How does this happen, and more importantly, why? Obviously someone felt that huge financial gain was worth the price of violating basic decency and morality.

    I frequently wonder how these people justify these acts to themselves. How do they conduct themselves in society? How do they relate to their family, friends, and colleagues?

    In other words, “How could you live with yourself knowing that you were responsible for a breach of the most basic principle that resides in all of us?” Is that adage really true….Everyone has their price? And while there is a twinge of morbid curiosity in all of us, are we tempted to pick up those papers and read more?

    God forgive us. Whitney, may we all be decent enough to hold up your daughter and family in our thoughts and prayers and ask that they be spared more heartache. Rest in peace, Beautiful Lady! The hallowed halls of heaven now ring with your glorious voice. Your bliss is just beginning and will never end.

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 1:34 am | Permalink
  3. Kim said . . .

    I sincerely hope and pray that these people will see the light and soon. What they do to people like Whitney and Michael is just unforgiveable. Forgiveness is something I believe in very strongly; however, it is really hard for me to forgive the media. I know it’s important to do, but doing so will require alot of inner reflection and prayer. No one seems to be safe are they?

    Posted March 15, 2012 at 3:45 am | Permalink

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