Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Whitney Houston dies at 48

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Whitney Houston has died at age 48.

I heard the news tonight on various channels, including MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News, so there is no mistake.  Houston is dead, and her beautiful voice and ability to emote while singing has died with her.

From a musical standpoint, there was a great deal to admire about Houston.  She had an operatic range, which is rare for singers of popular music (only Mariah Carey among current pop singers has anything close to the range of Houston).  She also chose great songs from great songwriters; for example, one of Houston’s best-known songs, “I Will Always Love You,” was originally written and performed by Dolly Parton — herself no slouch as a singer.  Yet Houston was able to add something to Parton’s excellent song to the point that if you asked ten people who’d heard each version which one they liked better, seven out of ten would probably say they liked Houston’s version better.

Houston’s death is a great loss for the music community.  And even knowing that the Grammy Awards are tomorrow (where music as a whole celebrates music and musicians), and that there will have to be a Houston retrospective, it doesn’t help overmuch because it just doesn’t seem right that someone so vital die at age 48.

As anyone who’s read my blog knows, I resonate strongly to this because my late husband Michael died at age 46, suddenly and without warning.  Then my best friend Jeff died last year, suddenly and without warning, after he’d fought off the worst of a terrible bacterial infection and seemed to be on the upswing, at age 47.  This is why it really and truly does not seem right to me that someone who still had so much left to give is dead at age 48.

I tend to think a person’s life has to be measured by what he or she did with it; in the case of Houston, I believe she was as successful as she could be, considering the terrible toll drug addiction had exacted from her.  She was a gifted performer, a fine singer, and by many accounts was a very kind person whose only real weakness was drugs.

At any rate, Houston’s life is over; she’s done all she could, and now all we have left are the recordings she left behind.

I refuse to say “rest in peace” because the phrase has been so overused that it’s trite.  I’d rather say that my heart goes out to Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, Houston’s ex-husband, Bobby Brown (someone that Houston stayed close to even after she divorced him), her mother Cissy Houston (a gifted singer in her own right), and cousin Dionne Warwick (one of the best singers of the ’60s, ’70s, and early ’80s), along with anyone else who knew Houston or loved her music.  May they be comforted by their memories and/or her music; may her spirit find happiness in Eternity.  (Amen.)


** Note:  Whatever else that can be said about my late husband, or my best friend Jeff, know that up until the day of each man’s passing, they learned, changed, grew, and became better people the longer they lived.  This is not to say they were saints (saints are boring); they were good men, which is a whole lot tougher thing to be than it seems.

Whitney Houston, according to Rev. Al Sharpton, had beaten most of her demons (this is my best paraphrase from hearing Sharpton on CNN and earlier on MSNBC); CNN has reported that Houston was about to star in her first movie in 15 years.  So as far as anyone knows right now, Houston was clean and sober.  She was able to act.  And she was able to perform again, albeit with a voice that was badly ravaged by drugs — though even had she “stayed clean” throughout her life, the voice tends to break down for many operatic-trained sopranos in their late 40s.

To my mind, Houston’s life was a success.  Not because she was such a great singer, but because she kept trying and didn’t give up.  In this way — and perhaps only in this way — she was like my husband, or my friend, and that’s the main reason I mourn her passing.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 11, 2012 at 9:45 pm

5 Responses

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  1. You know, it was bad enough that Jennifer Aniston shares the EXACT birthday with me… Not just the date, we’re the same age. Now to have Whitney’s death be on the same day? Ugh. I’d rather have shared the birthday with Whitney.


    February 13, 2012 at 3:39 am

    • Completely understandable (re: Whitney).

      As for Jennifer Aniston, remember that she’s had all the benefit of the best food (she can afford to hire a personal chef), the best exercise equipment, and the best plastic surgery (don’t know if she’s had anything done, but I wouldn’t be surprised). She also has had experts working on her haircuts, her hair color, can afford to get Brazilian waxes (if she needs them), etc., etc., etc.

      You and I cannot afford any of that. Nor would we want to waste our time and money on the last (though I wouldn’t mind having a top-notch hairdresser work on my hair now and again). We aren’t the types to go in for plastic surgery, either.

      Just remember that a lot of what we see with regards to Jennifer Aniston in the gossip mags and the like are what she looks like after professional hairstylists, make-up artists, etc., work on her. (Brooke Burke has admitted in her own book, “The Naked Mom,” that _she_ doesn’t look nearly as good in real life as she does on “Dancing with the Stars,” though she’s still a very attractive woman without all that extra gussying up. She included pictures of when she does her own make-up and when she has had it professionally done. She also talked about how much exercise she has to do to keep her figure.)

      Barb Caffrey

      February 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm

      • I just got back to these…

        Anyway, I really don’t think that Jennifer Aniston is all that and a bag of chips. Sure, she’s attractive, but in a cute girl next door type. And look at how much she puts into it, just to maintain the basic look? And in real life, she isn’t as good…

        It’s just there are better celebrities out there that could have had my exact birthday… Her and I turn the same age on the same day. But, on the other hand, Jennifer Aniston is much better than Sarah Failin – whose exactly 5 years older than I… Same birthday, different year. UGH!


        March 3, 2012 at 4:02 am

      • I’m with you, Lika.

        I can’t remember who said this, but one of the gossip magazines once called most Hollywood actresses as “big-headed tiny people” who most people, in real life, would not think are attractive because of how out of proportion their heads are to their teeny, tiny bodies. Only actresses like Kathy Bates or Queen Latifah or a very few others look like normal people; those are the ones we should try to emulate (Queen Latifah is for physical fitness, for example, and that’s great).

        Barb Caffrey

        March 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm

  2. Rest in peace Whitney Houston!

    Biviano Siefke

    March 10, 2012 at 4:06 am

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