Monthly Archives: March 2012

Houston, We Have A Problem

By Walter L. Hilliard III

I was lying in bed watching television when I came upon CNN showing a picture of Whitney Houston, who had reportedly died just hours before.  I was shocked.  Eventually, as the evening wore on, tears rolled and rolled down my face, endlessly, and I was unable to sleep much that night.

I don’t want to recite Whitney’s great songs.  I want to get some meaning from her life, her spirit.  I’ll remember not only her voice, but also the spirit behind her voice; that’s where her soul lives, and that’s where we all connected with her.  Whitney voiced the love we all have inside, but could not bring to life in a way in which everyone around us would truly know.  That’s what she did for us; she took us in her arms, through her voice, and took us where we could not go alone.

In the 1980s, when Whitney was a rising star, I was going through high school, college and the first set of new, serious relationships in my life.  Whitney makes those moments in my life more profound when I look back.  She gave meaning where the meaning would be less or even forgotten.  She is a part of all our lives, all of us who’ve ever heard her voice.

When I first saw her in a video, I believe it was “You Gave Good Love,” it was that innocent, beautiful face and that skinny body that I remembered most.  But it was her voice, her soul, that touched me and I have never been the same.

So what does it all mean, not just the love, but also her struggles with relationships and drugs?

For one, we cannot blame former Bad Boy Bobby Brown, like CNN’s Pierce Morgan tried to do during several interviews; however,  during one interview, Smoky Robinson refused to take the bait and told him we are all responsible for ourselves.  Smokey said Whitney was a joy from the time he met her as a young girl until her passing.

Media reports mentioned Brown, performing with his group New Edition in Mississippi when he received the news, told the audience he loved Whitney and was overcome with grief while singing “Tenderoni,” having to ask the audience to help him through the song by singing it with him.

But let’s be clear, which most of the media has yet to do, Jennifer Holiday said she knew and was with Whitney and other singers in NY during the 1980s and Whitney was using drugs (Holiday insinuated that the main drug was cocaine) then, long before Bobby Brown came into her life.

So there it is, just what I had suspected and heard rumors of all along — that Whitney started using drugs before Brown came along, and one may assume she was possibly the wilder one of the two.

Also, what about Whitney and Brown’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina?  How could a mother take her own life and leave her child alone in the world?  Well, only drugs can do something so horrendous.  However, as I had suspected all along, Whitney’s death was an accident.  But she had to know that prescription drugs and alcohol were a bad mix, and she appeared to be drinking quite a bit leading up to her death.

Holiday also mentioned that she had spoken with Whitney over the years and Whitney was unhappy about having lost her voice, at least the voice or vocal range that had made her a star.  Holiday said she tried to get across to Whitney that there were many things she could do to repair her vocal chords and sing, successfully, in a different range.  A trained opera singer, Holiday told Whitney she could help her, but Whitney just didn’t seem focused or willing.

Of course, you cannot save anyone from themselves; you can help them — but you can’t save them.  They have to save themselves.

Ultimately, I think Whitney was so great, so admired and loved, that she became distraught when her voice and career began to fade.  None of us can know what it’s like to have been the famous Whitney Houston, and then have it all go away.  How would we react?  Maybe we wouldn’t have been strong enough to survive or live as long as she did?  But it appears that she became too attached to the love and admiration that fame brought her.  Who wouldn’t?  The lesson is that we should all be reminded to love ourselves; we must be internally connected and not outwardly directed.  No one can love you better than you and suicide is the worst form of self-hate, to take your own life.

If Whitney had taken her own life, I wouldn’t have wanted to be angry at her, but a part of may have been.  Having helped people all my life, I learned early on that you criticize and hate the behavior, not the person.  And what if there really was foul play involved in her death?  A record executive in a room above Whitney’s said she heard a man’s voice yelling 20 minutes before Whitney was found dead.   Still, nothing’s going to bring her back.

So what’s the lesson for all of us?  I don’t know, but I suspect it has something to do with our appreciating “the moment” and enjoying life.  Larry King, who called into CNN shortly after her death, said:  “Whitney’s death is a reminder that we’re all here on borrowed time.”

So true . . . .

Hopefully, we all embrace Whitney’s voice, her spirit, once again, and walk away from our grudges, and continue to take the first step of our own journey toward living the life of our dreams.  The fact is you cannot take your possessions or your attitudes with you when you die.  And the past is gone; the future is but a dream.  All you have is the here and now so live.  Live your life and love yourself.