I remember the day I learned about the death of Whitney Houston. The shocking news left me speechless, but also saddened. Of course, I never knew Ms. Houston personally, but during the time I was able to hear, I was a huge fan of her music. I was privileged to hear her songs, "How Will I Know" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," before I became deaf, so I was familiar with her music. I loved those songs, as well as "The Greatest Love of All." That last song always empowered me, and I liked how it was a song that promoted the message of how it is so important to love ourselves. Sadly, in the end, this was not something that Whitney was able to do, as she fell into the trap of drug addiction at the end of her life. I didn’t know she was struggling with addiction, but because I am deaf, I don’t really pay much attention to what’s going on in the music world or with musicians. Books are my life, not music. But I do still love the songs I knew before becoming deaf, as well as the people who sang them. And Whitney Houston was one such person whose songs I enjoyed remembering. Her songs still touched my heart and moved my soul. So I was still interested in what was going on in this woman’s life. Hers was a life that was tragically cut short when there was so much more she had yet to do, so many dreams she still wanted to dream.
Some people who knew her personally honored her and remembered her in their own way. For one person, Narada Michael Weldon, who personally worked with Whitney on many of her songs just when she debuted as a singer, he has honored the memory of Whitney Houston with a beautiful and heartfelt book. That book is Whitney Houston: The Voice, The Music, The Inspiration, which he wrote with Richard Buskin. This short book about how Narada knew Whitney captures a personal side of her life other people did not get to see. Some people, such as Whitney’s aunt, Aretha Franklin, who Whitney called “Auntie Ree,” were in the studio alongside Narada and Whitney as they created the magic of her songs, but the world at large did not get to witness such moments or overhear such conversations that took place while they were at work. Now that is possible with this book, which is written in Narada’s POV and shares his relationship with Whitney from beginning to end. He even calls her “Nippy,” the same personal name her parents and close friends called her.
This book does not tell Whitney’s life story, but it does share a chapter of her life in which readers still get to see Whitney as a person and not as a singer. The way she would talk with Narada and how hard she worked until her songs were just right. Narada was at her side coaching her, supporting her and making her smile or laugh through the whole thing. The two of them were like brother and sister, he said, and he always spoke kindly of just how gifted Whitney was with her musical talents and of how her smile just lit up the whole room. Only once do we see a dark side of Whitney in this book, when she gets mad after Narada shows up at her house to work with her to fix a song during a time Whitney was resting just after a world tour. And we capture a sad side of Whitney after she suffers heartbreak over broken relationships. We also feel for Whitney when she suffered a backlash from the black community over how she was “too white” or how her music “lacked soul.” But most of the book is a touching tribute of a woman who took the music world by storm with the voice of an angel and the soul of a pop queen. She was indeed a superstar in the music world and this book captures the magic and excitement of how Whitney rose to the top of the charts with her beautiful voice.
Whitney Houston was an engrossing book that introduced me to the life of one of the world’s successful musical artists, albeit for a short time. I enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in reading about a chapter of the life of a musical superstar.
Whitney Houston’s voice. A voice of raw power and angelic sweetness, tremendous range, and incredible control. When the world first heard it back in 1984, a new chapter was written in the annals of popular music.
Author Narada Michael Walden sat in the cockpit alongside Whitney while her career skyrocketed, producing many of the hits that today comprise her musical legacy?among them, ?How Will I Know,” ?I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” ?Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” and ?One Moment in Time.” His intimate stories of their unforgettable times together, both inside and outside the recording studio, draw a portrait of a smart, funny, compassionate woman whose striking physical beauty was matched by her inner strength and justifiable self-confidence. As the cousin of Dionne Warwick and daughter of Cissy Houston, Whitney was able to draw on her lineage to make an unprecedented impact. And, at the same time, she and Narada enjoyed a rock-solid bond, fostered through their shared musical and spiritual backgrounds.
It is for Whitney’s legion of loving fans?several thousand of whom crowded outside the church where Narada attended her funeral service in February 2012?that he is now telling the story of the fabulously gifted artist and caring, charismatic woman he knew during her peak years. She remains the only artist to have seven consecutive U.S. chart-topping singles, and is the most awarded female act of all time.