The news of her death came as a major shock to me over the weekend, and it's stayed with me, unlike other recent celebrity passings. She had a much longer career than did Amy Winehouse, and she didn't give me the creepy vibe that Michael Jackson did.
They are all icons, though. And I'm loathe to throw that word around. Katy Perry is not an icon. That's just one example. But I digress.
Whitney Houston was the real deal. Her songs helped form the soundtrack of some of my earliest memories. I remember seeing her on awards shows in the late 80s and thinking that she was absolutely gorgeous and talented, and it seemed to me (even then) that the world was her oyster. As un-PC as it sounds, I thought of her like a live, black Barbie doll. And this was at a time when music (pop music especially) was dominated by the Tiffanys and Debbie Gibsons of the world.
She didn't need autotune or flashy costumes or intricate dance routines. She simply sang her heart out with the natural talent that made her so uniquely gifted and paved the way for many to follow. It's sad beyond belief that some of her decisions led her down the tragic path taken by so many before her.
I just watched The Grammys, where several moving tributes were made to Whitney, but what got me the most was that this was just not supposed to be happening. People around my age should be seeing Whitney and Michael Jackson on stage in their golden years, much as my mother probably watched Tony Bennett or Diana Ross tonight. We should have had her for another thirty or forty years, but it was not to be. It's not right, but it's not okay, either.
She will be missed, and my thoughts are with her family.