When I say I want to be a conduit of opportunity, Whitney Elizabeth Houston is one of the gold standards to me of creating and opening doors for other performers.
This is the woman who declined performing the role of Cinderella as was originally offered, promoting Brandy for the role in her place. The woman who could have done another fire solo soundtrack for Waiting To Exhale, but brought on over fourteen additional artists to perform tracks (many of which became hits and quiet storm staples). As a filmmaker she produced The Princess Diaries films, the Sparkle remake, and - yes, hunty - Cheetah Girls 1&2. #strutlikeyoumeanit
In 1999 she helped Mary J. Blige’s explosion into the mainstream stratosphere by bringing her onstage as a special guest during Vh1 Divas Live ‘99 - still a record-breaking broadcast that is a large reason Mary became a household name outside of the hip hop and R&B audience. In the studio and on stages she would pass the mic to Monica, Kelly Price, Karen Clark Sheard, and others, an unabashed fan of vocals and technique.
This was a woman who loved being a woman, who loved being Black, and, despite mounting obstacles in her personal life, still promoted quality entertainers and produced quality content that showed positive images of other women and other Black people AND other Black women. Who can forget Raven-Symoné (back when we didn’t have the problems we do now) dropping and posing in heels and skintights while weighing more than her Cheetah peers and the film allowed her to be thought of as driven, desirable and accessible as a contemporary lead who was not Hollywood conventional - something we didn’t really get again until Annalise Keating showed up on our screens two years ago.
Too often she’s been reduced to her voice or her issues. Here’s to just another facet of an American Black Diamond. Here’s to Whitney the conduit. Black history is world history. Salute.