I can't say that I was a mega-fan of Whitney or her music. I've never met her or been to any of her concerts. In fact, the only time I've ever seen her live was at the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary celebration in 2001. At the time, I was most looking forward to seeing the Jackson 5/Jacksons reunited and other artists that performed during that tribute show are simple vague memories in my mind. Sure, I grew up on her music, just like many others in my generation did. I remember women in my family singing along to her songs on the radio, men in my family talking about how pretty she was, and hey- I even remember watching Waiting to Exhale as a young girl and wishing that I had a group of girlfriends and a beautiful, slender frame- just like hers.
Whitney Houston and her music were never a part of my daily life. But it was there for me when it mattered. When I have my feel-good R&B jam sessions in my room, "I'm Your Baby Tonight" is always on the playlist, when the holidays roll around, you can bet that her soulful rendition of "Joy to the World" can be heard somewhere, and when I fell in love for the first time, "All The Man That I Need" was my anthem. I've always had 20 or 25 Whitney tracks on my iPod at all times. Her music was so powerful and she sang the pages from my book of emotion. She was brilliant.
My fandom never went past that.
So why did her sudden death hurt me so badly?
It could be the parallels between the life and death experiences of Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson. I'm not sure though. I'm still trying to figure it out. I feel less stunned and the news is settling in, as the days pass by. Although, I have an understanding of what MJ fans might consider "bandwagon fans" felt after his death in 2009. Artists like Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson are ingrained into popular culture and woven into the very fabric of who each and every one of us are.
For me, Michael makes up the majority of my patchwork. And sure, when we lost MJ, it was one of the worst times in my life. Michael Jackson and being an MJ fan was my everything. Whitney may have been just some delicate needlework here and there but... her death broke a thread that will forever remain unraveled.
And with that, I give my gratitude to Whitney Houston and every artist like her who we've lost. Thank you for sharing your talent with the world and enriching our lives. Thank you.