So far Black History Month 2012 has hit us like a sledgehammer with the recent passing of icons Don Cornelius and Whitney Houston. Both left an indelible mark not only on African-American history, but the larger American media and entertainment industry as well.
Don Cornelius was the creator and innovator behind “Soul Train” which aired on Saturday mornings and featured people getting down to the latest grooves. Beginning in Chicago in 1970, “Soul Train” would air for 36 years providing a showcase for dance moves and fancy clothes while serving as a platform for up and coming artists to gain exposure. “Soul Train” was one of the few shows with an abundance of people of color who could be seen by mainstream America without having to cater to the same tired stereotypes so prevalent then and now. Don Cornelius will definitely be missed.
What can one say that hasn’t already been said about Whitney? Graceful. Star. Talented. Singer. Soulful. Troubled. Inspiring. The young girl from Newark who began singing at her church at age 11, who would go on to sell more than 170 million albums, is an incredible story indeed.
Sadly, Whitney’s struggles with addiction and drugs became press fodder. There was the infamous 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer. The reports that she blew through her millions to support her habits. In truth, we all have struggles, vices, things we do battle with on a daily basis. Most of us though don’t have to worry about TMZ following us around though either.
Despite her struggles, Whitney Houston is arguably one of the greatest singers of the the last 25 years. Her single, “I Will Always Love You,” from the the 1992 soundtrack of the hit film, “The Bodyguard,” shattered billboard records and has become a timeless classic. Whitney Houston leaves us as one of the most accomplished, award winning, and influential singers the world has ever seen. We will always love you, Whitney.