That is exactly what Whitney Houston did for me growing up in the 80s and 90s – she showed me a bright future and taught me so well, a young black girl trying to find herself in a world that confused her and oftentimes isolated her.
My first most impactful visual of Whitney was her ‘Greatest love of all’ and 'Saving all my love' videos.
Her model looks and effortless style with hair forward framing her face and wrapped with a cool black band. Her netted shift dress and leather biker jacket – she looked so chic she communicated that look in the same way as if she were wearing an evening dress for a black tie event. All the the looks were simple and stunning.
Her style has set trends. Her beauty has set trends. Her videos has set trends. Actually trend is the wrong word as its defines a short period. Correction: she set the standards for us to follow. Timeless standards. She made me feel that it was ok to have big frizzy hair and her model height filled me with glee when as an adolescent the awkwardness of my height was at its height - She made me walk tall.
My friend Marco just texted me to turnover from the negative news channels with their putdowns and innuendos to Magic (radio) TV channel – It’s a Whitney day.. 'How will I know' is playing. “I tried to phone but I’m too shy – can’t speak…” Memories.
The ‘I have nothing’ video from the Bodyguard movie soundtrack made me scour East Street and Church street markets for similar headdress and jewellery. In those days finding decent make up choices for black skin was rare but I hunted down those lip colours she wore in her videos relentlessly often to no avail. But they are here now - women of colour have endless choices now.
I wanted her hair, her style, beauty, her acting ability. I never ever yearned for her voice, as I knew that she was a ‘supreme songbird’ and was one of a kind.
Today I feel like I’ve lost a big sister and a friend. No, I never knew nor met her but I know she stopped me from going down certain bad roads in my London bred teenage years - as she was such a positive role model for me growing up. The irony, she who later succumbed to those negative roads. She steered me away from them because I saw the future in her bright eyes, in her soul and voice – a bright future for me that said regardless of where you come from, the colour of your skin or what you look like - who you are - YOU ARE SOMEBODY SPECIAL.
'It’s alright but its ok' video – (in Dolce and Gabbana)
And I will always love you Whitney. Today I can’t stop crying but will always be inspired and motivated by what you've done and shared with us all.
Thank you and Rest In Peace.