A Life Like Whitney Houston

The rise of music legend Whitney Houston has turned her into a social and cultural icon. With her vocals, strong charisma and frequent use of sexual innuendo, Houston defined the music of her generation. The defining moment of this woman’s life and career came in 1973 when she was chosen to be the first Black singer-songwriter to record with the top record label in the United States.

In two decades, she has sold over two million albums worldwide. She won six Grammy Awards for Best R&B Song for “I Will Always Love You”, and, along with Bob Dylan, received the prestigious Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Now in her seventies, Houston is still surrounded by black women, and much of her appeal comes from her ability to identify as a Black woman who speaks her truth. As an artist, she continued to forge new ground for African Americans by creating a new style of music that reflected their culture and heritage. Most importantly, she has not let anyone or anything stand in her way of becoming a respected figure in the entertainment industry.

It was hard for people who did not know her to relate to her as a woman of her time. While her gender was considered a disadvantage, her talent is what made her stand out from the rest. Today, she continues to benefit from the longevity and success of her life and career. She will likely live on for years to come as a symbol of independence, self-sufficiency, and strength.

Women of the 1950s were in many ways oppressed by the media and white Hollywood. Most images portrayed them as mothers, wives, housewives, and even sex objects. Some men would openly comment on how hot and gorgeous they found women of this era. Others felt uncomfortable around the very idea of a woman of color in general.

This suppressed a woman’s individuality and dignity. She was no longer allowed to be anything but the white female stereotype. Sometimes, that meant being laughed at, criticized, or made fun of, but she was expected to put up with these indignities because most people wanted to protect the image of white women.

It was only in the late 1940s that black women began to break away from their former fate as subservient servants of the white male in the American film industry. Many of these women created a story of their own, telling of their own life stories and creating their own signature style. Much of this was done through the discovery of the films and television.

A number of these black film stars would go on to create Hollywood legends such as Marlene Dietrich, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Daryl Hannah, Natalie Wood, Abbie Hoffman, Viola Davis, Debbie Reynolds, Mary Tyler Moore, Hattie McDaniel, Valerie Harper, and Joan Crawford. If any of these names rings a bell, you know what I am talking about. These black women gave voice to women who were fighting for their freedom and right to be unique, bold, and have a voice.

Whitney Houston was one of the first to give voice to Black history and culture in this country. She went against the wave of the times and continued to defy stereotypes and resist anything or anyone who told her she was not “black enough.” As a result, she paved the way for other women to do the same.

She became the embodiment of Black history and continues to help others as a founding mother of the Black History Month festivities. Not everyone can claim to be a strong advocate for the positive changes that were made and a pioneer for the greater good.

On the other hand, those who have embraced Whitney Houston in the many years since her death have found a great loss. Her music has helped define the genre of R&B, but it was her spirit and story that moved so many people. It is her appeal to so many and her ability to take us all along for the ride that makes her a cultural icon and a role model to young girls everywhere.