The opinions represented in this article do not necessarily represent those of the staff of CUIndependent.com nor any of its sponsors
For the next few days, Facebook users and people all over the U.S. will continue to mourn the death of a long beloved pop star.
On February 11, 2012, singer Whitney Houston was found dead in the bathtub of a Beverly Hills Hotel. It is now believed that a combination of Xanax and other drugs, mixed with alcohol, were the cause of death. However, the possibility of drowning is still being explored.
While the music world was left aghast and in mourning, my initial reaction was a little more — shall we say — passive. I tried to remember who she was.
I decided to do a little research, to better understand why Whitney Houston statuses were clogging up my Facebook news feed.
My curiosity first led me to YouTube, where I discovered that I actually know some of her songs and even like them. I have known the chorus to songs including “I Will Always Love You,” and “I Have Nothing,” ever since my mother discovered Lite FM radio.
Yet mere familiarity did not satisfy my interest. Making a few widely recognizable songs does not constitute a tribute performance at the Grammys. It was not her music I sought, but her importance to the industry.
Professor Adam Bradley, a professor of African American Literature here at CU, helped provide the answer. He explained to me that when Whitney Houston first started, racial issues still prevented many black singers from being aired on MTV. Houston was one of the singers to help break the racial barrier.
“She became a sex symbol for all minds,” Bradley said. “And role model for teens of all races.”
Present day MTV is clearly culturally diverse, and Whitney Houston is one of the reasons for that. Professor Bradley explained that her voice was the key to her popularity, and that she could take a mediocre song and make it sound great. When she sang a song, whether it was good or great, it captivated all.
According to USA Today, Whitney Houston’s career also influenced many of the pop music leaders of today. Artists like Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, and a number of others all claim that Houston was a strong influence on their careers. This is an incredible list considering the fame these singers have, and that many of their songs are prevalent in our society.
I learned that Whitney Houston not only affected what I watch on television, but also the music I am surrounded with. She changed the culture of television with her music, and helped remove racist attitudes. The diva also helped mold the pop music of today with her image and her voice.
Her death, which held no gravity for me at first, now has a deeper impact. Whitney Houston was, and is, a music icon. I have a new found respect for her, and I hope that those like me who were unaffected by her death now have an appreciation for her too.
Take the time to get to know Whitney and you will have a respect for her. You might discover that her music is pretty good, too.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Edward Quartin at Edward.firstname.lastname@example.org.