Weather Updates

Houston’s life reminds us that being a celebrity is sometimes tough

Updated: March 15, 2012 8:13AM

If there’s anyone I wanted to make a comeback, it was Whitney Houston.

Houston’s “I will Always Love You” was the first song my oldest daughter jumped on the stage and tried to sing in a grammar school talent contest.

And there is still a video floating around somewhere of me and my three sisters prancing around the stage at a New Orleans bar singing “I Want To Dance With Somebody.”

Houston’s music was unforgettable. So was her life.

Because Houston’s problems received media attention, some of us got caught up in her personal drama like we really knew her.

This phenomenon grew exponentially because of social media. By the time Houston joined her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, on what turned out to be a lowbrow reality show, we had just about had it with this diva.

But when Houston came back in 2009 with a new album, and seemingly a new attitude, we came back too.

I remember listening to a couple of songs on her last album: “I Look To You,” and thinking that while it wasn’t the same voice, it was Whitney. She was trying. She still had a chance.

But was there really any way for Houston to get back what she had lost over the years? While her star was falling, other stars were rising. That’s just life. For most, the latter part of life never measures up.

Frankly, it isn’t surprising that investigators found prescription bottles of antidepressants in the suite where Houston died.

At some point, many of us have had to combat feelings of depression, sadness, and unworthiness.

A lot of us are just trying to cope, and a lot of doctors are eager to help rid us of our sadness and anxieties.

Indeed, in 2010, American doctors wrote over 60 million prescriptions for Valium and similar tranquilizers, according to statistics compiled by the U. S. Department of Justice.

And according to data distributed at the “2011 Atlanta Summit on Prescriptions,” abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest-growing segment for illegal drug use in the United States. More people abuse prescription drugs than the number of people who use cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin combined.

Houston’s drug use was well publicized, and she has been ridiculed by peers over the years for this shortcoming.

But having a lot of money and fame does not preclude someone from making the same bad choices as people who are far less fortunate.

In recent years, when Houston’s name came up, the person usually prefaced it with a sigh and a “poor Whitney.”

We wanted back the woman who couldn’t dance, but pranced around a stage anyway. We wanted back that woman who starred in “Waiting to Exhale” and made every single black woman in America think seriously about buying a convertible.

Music will stand test of time

We wanted her to break away from whatever was binding her in the same way one wants to see a loved one break free.

Unfortunately, even though Houston was blessed with an astounding voice, and looks, she had a gigantic hole in her life.

In the days ahead, I expect Houston’s family and friends will try to downplay the singer’s past drug use in a well-intentioned effort to protect her legacy and image.

They don’t have to worry about that. Houston’s voice and the film roles she portrayed that uplifted black women will be around long after the tabloid fodder has faded.

At the height of her career, Houston was the best, and the music that she made will stand the test of time.

Besides, when Elvis fans celebrate his music, the singer’s abuse of prescription drugs is rarely mentioned.

In time, there will be another voice in another season. Meanwhile, Houston’s untimely death is a reminder to those who crave celebrity status that it isn’t always what it seems.

Houston had her comeback.

But what her fans and I really hoped for was a happy ending.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.