Tribute: 3 Years Ago, Whitney Houston Died
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Tribute: 3 Years Ago, Whitney Houston Died


Tribute 3 Years Ago Whitney Houston DiedIt would be impossible to write a tribute to the great Whitney Houston on the third anniversary of her death without addressing the tragic irony of her daughter’s current medical condition—which is in a medically induced coma after being found unresponsive in the exact same way her mother was back in 2012 on this very same day. The heartbreaking plan, actually, is to take Bobbi Kristina off life support today in honor or the saddest anniversary imaginable.

I don’t know much about Bobbi Kristina Brown other than she is 21 years old, she lost her mother three years ago to a drug-related accident, her father is known bad boy Bobby Brown and she is kind of married to her adopted brother, Nick Gordon. I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose a parent, never mind a high profile figure like Houston, whose known drug problem—that Bobbi Kristina was may have been privy to her entire life—ultimately caused her death. So it’s no surprise that the only daughter of the pop star was taken to Cedars-Sinai hospital, in February of 2012, for being “overwhelmed,” just three days after her mother passed. I would be pretty fucking overwhelmed myself.

While I don’t know what it’s like to be in the spotlight my whole life or be abandoned by my mother in death, I do know what it’s like to be 21 years old, have a shitty dad and have to be your own parent. So it doesn’t actually surprise me that Bobbi Kristina became romantically involved with Nick Gordon, the only stable immediate family member she has ever known. In fact, I think her family should be happy about it, as it could be a lot worse—she could have shacked up with Chris Brown, the modern day incarnate of her father.

So as family, friends and fans around the globe hold vigils and pray for Bobbi Kristina, we are also called to remember the anniversary of her mom’s passing, the untimely death of R&B and pop mega star Whitney Houston—as the Grammy Awards have tended to do since 2012.

When I was a little girl, my mother forced me to take piano lessons. I suppose the fact that I needed something to do after school and I happen to have long fingers made me a shoe in. But I was never interested in music at all and found the repetitive nature and discipline of piano lessons to be nothing short of tedious. I came to dread Wednesday afternoons—that is, until I discovered Whitney.

It was 1985 and the world had just been introduced to a 21-year-old former gospel singer whose breakout single, “You Give Good Love to Me,” on her first album made her a star. I will never forget the cover of “Whitney Houston” (the self-titled album)—a rich orange background surrounded an exotic photo of the young singer, a beautiful, fresh-faced Nubian princess in a one-shoulder peach dress. She was breathtaking.

In an effort to get me to get excited about music, my mother bought me the songbook for the album and we spent entire weekends listening to it, track by track, as I learned how to play them on the piano. And my mother was right; it did help my interest in practicing piano immensely. It also ingrained every nuance of that album into the crack of my psyche so when I hear any song from it, I am immediately and vividly catapulted back to being a child.

What is fascinating to me is that because of the acute sense memory I have with Houston’s first album and that vulnerable time in my life, I am able to really remember how I felt during those years—the years leading up to my burgeoning alcoholism. As many recovering alcoholics confess, feeling frightened, self-conscious and uncomfortable in your own skin—like you didn’t fit in—during childhood isn’t so uncommon for people like us. My escape through the music of Whitney Houston in the mid-80s provided me a place of comfort. Her songs were soulful and harmonious and light, all things that my home life wasn’t. Her music gave me hope for the kind of love I desperately wanted.

But now, decades later, it’s a bit surreal to think that my savior was probably just as frightened and uncomfortable as I was. As a future cocaine addict, I can assure you that Whitney Houston had saviors of her own at my age—ones she loved and admired so much she aspired to be one. But she also probably felt just as lost at 21 years old—the year her album came out—as I did at that age, and as her daughter does now.

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.