In 2009, music critic Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times wrote,
"[Whitney Houston's] voice stands like [a] monument upon the landscape of 20th century pop, defining the architecture of their times, sheltering the dreams of millions and inspiring the climbing careers of countless imitators. When she was at her best, nothing could match her huge, clean, cool mezzo-soprano"
In this digital age when stardom can happen over-night and - worse - be manufactured, Whitney Houston - called by peers and referred to by many publications as simply 'The Voice' - was one of the true remaining legends and megastars whose immense star-power could only be matched by the depth and breadth of her God-given talent, the message of her heartfelt songs and her unquestionable global influence.
Best known for her effortlessly creamy yet extremely agile voice, Whitney Houston's critical and commercial success spans decades -- highlighted by her stunning performance in the movie 'The Bodyguard' whose soundtrack still holds the record as 'The Best Selling Soundtrack of All Time' with more than 40 million units sold. But that's hardly the only record set and held by The Voice.
Whitney Houston also holds the Guinness World Record for 'Most Consecutive Number One Hits in Billboard History' with 7 releases hitting the top spot one after the other (namely, Saving All My Love For You, How Will I Know, Greatest Love of All, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, Didn't We Almost Have It All, So Emotional and Where do Broken Hearts Go?), 'Best Selling Debut Album of all Time' with Whitney Houston LP, 'First Woman to Enter Billboard Charts at Number One', and 'Most Awarded Female Artist of all Time' with more than 400 legitimate honors and recognitions to her name. Also, her single 'I Will Always Love You' is still the best-selling love song of all time and is the most sung song in American Idol auditions history.
But for many of her friends and colleagues in the entertainment industry, Whitney Houston was more than the beautiful lady with the big talent and unprecedented commercial success. For them, despite her many struggles and tribulations, Whitney was quite simply an icon and an inspiration. Here's a clip by CNN showing many celebrities praising her not only for her achievements but also for the kind person that she is:
Considering all that and the truth that many of her songs have become part of the soundtrack of the lives of millions upon millions of people the world over, it's no wonder that Whitney Houston's passing yesterday, February 11th, affects many of us the way it does.
In fact, CNN has been reporting about her untimely death - the exact reason for which remains unknown - for than 24 hours now. Big websites like Yahoo and MSN, among others, have likewise had the story as their headline. And it's no different on Twitter.
If my memory serves me right, this is the first time in history - yup, not even during Michael Jackson's death - when all Twitter Trending Topics referred to one person. It's the case in the Philippines and it's the same story in other territories.
4th trending topic #PPLoveLoveLove refers to Regine Velasquez's surprise return to GMA7's Sunday Noontime Show, Party Pilipinas, where she did a fitting tribute in honor of Whitney Houston by singing 'I Will Always Love You'. Regine, described by some as the best and most influential Filipina singer of all time, also wrote on Twitter that she was saddened by the tragic event as Whitney Houston has become part of her life and her music;
If the best singer in the Philippines sees Whitney as an inspiration, I would imagine that other female singers in our country including the aspiring ones likewise see 'The Voice' as a gold standard for pop vocal performance.
Meanwhile, other singers in Whitney's league have also expressed their grief on Twitter:
Mariah Carey wrote, "Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston. My heartfelt condolences to Whitney's family and to all her millions of fans throughout the world. She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth."
"She had everything, beauty, a magnificent voice," Barbra Streisand shared on Twitter, "How sad her gifts could not bring her the same happiness they brought us."
"My heart is weeping...RIP to the Legendary Diva & Icon Whitney Houston!!!!! Such an incredible influence over music as a whole! She's paved the way for every single singer in the music industry. Iconic, legendary, innovating, amazing, humble...1 the best in the world," Toni Braxton tweeted.
Other stars including Kelly Rowland, P Diddy, Chaka Khan, Will Smith, Diana Ross, Fergie, Alicia Keys, Meryl Streep, Ne-Yo, even Justin Bieber, among so so many others, also mourn the loss of Whitney Houston.
Even sports icons like tennis superstar Serena Williams see Whitney as an inspiration. Earlier today, Serena posted this status update on Twitter, "#OneMomentInTime has propelled me to many of my grand slams victories. #whitneyhouston" One Moment in Time is a soaring Olympic-anthem recorded by Whitney Houston for the 1989 Summer Olympics.
But for Whitney Houston fans around the world - myself included, whose lives have been deeply touched by her music and her life, the experience of listening to her songs and watching her live performances on Youtube will never be the same again:
Farewell, Ms. Whitney! May you find the peace with the Lord that you seemingly never got to experience in this world. Your voice will live on in your timeless classics and in the voices of all singers - male or female in whatever genre - who came after you. God bless you and thank you for the music! I will always, I will always love you.