On January 20, 2012, the legendary singer, Etta James passed away at the age of 73.
Etta James in the studio in Chicago with the Chess Records founder Phil Chess, left, and the producer Ralph Bass in 1960 from The New York Times via Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.
On, February 1, 2012, the creator of the ironic show, Soul Train, Don Cornelius was found dead from apparent suicide at the age of 75.
Don Cornelius hosting “Soul Train” in the 1970s from The New York Times via MadVision Entertainment.
And then last night, on February 11, 2012, the one and only Whitney Houston passed away at the age of 48.
And, then the Whitney Houston from the OC Weekly.
In the span of just a few weeks, three legendary, game changing, outstanding and inspiring people left us physically but will remain with us musically.
Etta James was a trailblazer in the music industry and paved the way for many artists today. Her music scanned the likes of soul, rock, R&B, gospel and jazz and she a collection of awards including being a Grammy-award winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee! But whenever I think about Miss Etta James, I will also think about one of her most famous songs, “At Last” — a song that will last the test of time.
Peace, love and soulllll.…were the three simple words that changed a generation and will remain in our history for a lifetime. Don Cornelius was the creator the hit show Soul Train, which one of the longest-running syndicated shows in television history and helped get black artists, black music and black culture on mainstream media.
It started as a local show in Chicago and then spread to a national phenomenon that changed the way black entertainment was streaming nationwide. And who could forget those ironic performers who took the stage during the show or the amazing dancers in the audience? But honestly, nothing tops that soul train line where pairs would travel down a line of dancers showing off their best moves!
But the shining star that was Whitney Houston, she was the one who really touched my life the most. Not to say the others didn’t because Etta James inspired many artists and singers to come and Soul Train was running until the 2000’s so I’ve seen a few episodes but it was only until last night when I realized how much Whitney Houston and her music influenced my life.
Not only was her music just amazing, it stuck with you, it was in your head, in heart and in your soul, it was a part of you!
And even though, I’m only 23, Whitney’s star power impacted my life and my upbringing completely.
I remember watching a remake of the Cinderella story starring the young star Brandy and Whitney Houston. One of my favorite songs from the whole movie was “Impossible…It’s Possible!” The lyrics were so simple but it made so much sense, it was basically saying that things that seem impossible are really possible! And as a 9 year-old watching this it made an impact — not only was the music good but it was a multicultural version of the classic Cinderella story that I already loved.
And then, Whitney did it again, she used her voice in another movie and another song that was also very inspiring. It was one of the hit songs from the movie, The Prince of Egypt, called “When You Believe.”
And for me, The Preacher’s Wife was and still is one of my family’s favorite movies because it was a story about a real family who was going through real issues but had a little help from an angel. Plus it’s the perfect movie to watch during the holiday season because just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.
Finally, one of the most recent memories I have associated to Whitney takes me back to my senior year in high school. It was my last dance concert in the spring of 2007 and because my class was my teacher’s first four year class, she said that she would dance with us during our senior piece and what song did she pick? The all-time Whitney classic, “I will always love you.” Not only was that piece very touching for us because it was one of our last dances as high school seniors and it was the ONLY piece that ever made me cry on stage. Yep, it was that powerful and emotional.
But because Whitney had so many hits, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite ones and feel free to add your favorites too!
And just in case you still do get why Whitney was so great…just check out her stats, they are ridiculous! (415 Awards, 2 Emmys, 6 Grammys, 22 American Music Awards, 30 Billboard Awards & sold 300,000,000 Albums).
Until next time,
P.S. I was in the newsroom when the news of her death broke and let’s just say it’s amazing how breaking news can travel and how quickly it can come when you least expect it.