The death of my “American Idol”

By now, most of the world has been saturated with stories about the death of the Queen of Pop – Whitney Houston.

So, I decided what the heck, I will jump on the bandwagon too.

Growing up in the 1980s, the only music I listened to came from the vocal of Whitney Houston, Madonna, Debbie Gibson and “Tiffany.”

In my tiny 10-year-old mind, those were the ONLY artists worth listening too. And, when I couldn’t afford, or better yet, when my parents couldn’t afford their cassettes, I glued myself to my boom-box in the hopes of catching one of their tunes on the air and I would tape it. I had several of these “mixed tapes.”

I cherished the Whitney Houston cassettes that I owned because she was my American idol.

Back in the day when MTV actually played videos, hers were the ones I was allowed to watch.

I pretended to be her.

I wore my hair with the ribbon through it, tied in a big bow on top. And, even though I could not sing a single note (still can’t), I belted her songs out like I was on stage. I even received a fake microphone that I carried around my bedroom.

Sometime around 1988, I wrote her a “fan letter” and she actually “responded” with a typed letter. (Yes, I KNOW it wasn’t really from her, but when you are 10 years old, you are on Cloud 9 when a letter comes back to you from a superstar.) And, she included an autographed 8 X 10 photograph! I kept the letter for 24 years, but the photo somehow got lost in the shuffle between moves, college and marriage.

It was also in the late 1980s, when my mom took me to see Whitney Houston in concert at the Fort Wayne Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was my first concert and one that neither my mom nor I will ever forget. There were so many people, and no one was sitting down and everyone was singing. She really knew how to work the audience! What I remember the most was after her “final” song everyone clapped and cheered; and then she came out for an encore! Leaving the concert that night, I felt as if all of my dreams had come true!

As the years progressed, I continued to follow her music and fell in love with her all over again when she starred in “The Bodyguard.” She blew audiences away with her version of “I Will Always Love You.”

Yes, she turned to drugs and slowly started to, in my mind, become a skeleton of her old self. I always hoped that she would turn her life around for not only herself, but for her daughter and family as well. Sadly, that day never came. Her demons took over instead and her own broken heart found its way home. Whether or not her death was intentional or accidental does not matter. She is gone, but thankfully her music will live on forever.


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