A Grammy icon forever remembered. . .

Many consider the death of an icon as significant as a natural or national disaster. At the top of my list are 9/11 and the Japanese tragedy where countless lives were reduced to rubble in a devastating earthquake.

But the loss of an inspirational star’s life has its own, equally profound effect, because it hits us in an altogether different, more personally resonant place.   When we lose an icon, we lose a sense of the dreams we all want to hold onto and a glimpse of the magic that we believe in.  Even if our dreams don’t come true as they do for the luminaries we revere, stars are symbols that a dream is worth trying for no matter who you are, or where you come from.

The last time I felt this way was on August 31, 1997, when the beloved Princess Diana was taken in a fatal car crash.  Whomever has envisioned living an enchanted life, becoming a Princess or at least has felt they had the potential to be as poised, confident, and loving, Princess Di served as the living embodiment of these kinds of dreams for every young girl and I dare say, most women.  We felt a connection to her because of what she represented and mirrored for each of us.

It is apropos that on Grammy night, I mourn another light that has been too soon extinguished from Earth, only this light was connected to a heaven sent voice; that of church inspired singer, Whitney Houston.   She is added to the list of those I have admired, celebrated, respected and honored who have passed.

But Whitney’s death leaves a particularly pronounced hole in my heart, an unwavering sadness and a list of unanswered questions.

Why?

Why didn’t she get help?  Why was ‘Yes, Jesus Loves Me’ the last song she sang?  Why should she die the night of her music-mogul-mentor Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party?

The hazy details surrounding Whitney Houston’s death are nothing, if not poetically tragic, the scenario carrying all the potential makings for a true-life inspired HBO special which I am sure we will be seeing soon.

The questions rise as do thoughts of our own mortality.  But when the star’s presence was responsible for shining a light into the dreams of our own souls, then it is possible that some good can come of an otherwise senseless tragedy.

Whitney Houston’s death prompts me to take stock of where I am in the process of achieving my dreams, and to remember where they began.  And unlike the lessons, if there are any, behind Whitney and other tragically early losses like those of John Lennon, Lady Di and Michael Jackson, I have the opportunity to appreciate how I can be successful in whatever form it will look like, not trapped in the muck and mire of secret pain, addiction and overwhelming sadness.

Instead, in this moment, when I think of Whitney Houston I remember all the potential I felt I had as a young singer.  In fact, she was the motivation behind my first on-camera demo.  As a perky UCLA sophomore, I stepped into a karaoke-video studio in Westwood, California, where I bounced and belted along to the background track of Whitney’s I Wanna Dance with Somebody.   Yes, my hair resembled Whitney’s late ‘80s ‘do, but thankfully I have lost that videotape so no visible proof of my poodle inspired fiasco will be posted anytime soon on my DivaMamaTV YouTube channel.

Even thinking of that neophyte performance makes me smile through my tears and maybe that’s why we love our icons so much.  They awaken our old dreams, instill a passion and serve as inspiration.

So I choose to see this sad situation as a wake up call to reconsider my own career aspirations, and to serve as an opportunity to make my life something worth remembering.

I wish you peace Whitney, and offer my gratitude to you for reminding me where I came from and just how important using my voice is to me.

And I . . . will always love you, too.

7 Responses to A Grammy icon forever remembered. . .
  1. Jenn Deutsch
    February 13, 2012 | 3:27 pm

    I am sad a wonderful voice will no longer bring beauty to new songs. I am sad she was taken too soon. Music has always been there to celebrate joy and bring me comfort when I am sad. It is there to motivate me on the weight loss journey I am on. Whitney Houston songs sure do play as I walk, run, lift weights and stretch. So are all the artists music I enjoy. Some still record and others are gone and record no more. Music is essential in my life. I sang my latin verb endings to dream the impossible dream to learn them. I sing to remember how to spell library. I teach shapes through song to the students I teach today. I keep all the songs in my heart. I sing, and will still sing songs of all artists I enjoy even if I am off key and do it from the heart. Bless Ms. Houston and I hope she is singing in heaven above.

    • Diva-Mama
      February 13, 2012 | 6:00 pm

      I totally relate Jenn. During the same pivotal years of my Whitney inspired demo that I mentioned, I also worked at Tower Records in Westwood and had a blast playing and dancing around to my favorite artists. I even sold a workout tape (that’s what we had back then) to Marilu Henner that had some Whitney tracks on it. Ah, sweet memories of a sweet soulful sound. God bless you Whitney.

  2. Jenn Deutsch
    February 13, 2012 | 7:22 pm

    TOWER! Oh many a late nights with the coins and dollars I had saved to get new music! Right across the street the red lit words of Tower Records shined from my dorm room! As I moved to Burbia a different Tower gave me a late night place to listen to music when power was out for days after a storm. It also gave me Flory Jagoda’s CD when I couldn’t find it anywhere else! Now, I turn to itunes. My ipod and itouch are full of music past and present and goes from my kids songs to U2 zooropa to all the jewish songs i hold in my heart. These eclectic tastes in music make a song available no matter what I need. Thanks Shira for evoking cool and awesome memories it made my night better. Whitney is playing in the background tonight and I know G-d is watching over her.

  3. Eve Fogler
    February 13, 2012 | 8:18 pm

    Thanks Shira, you always shine some light onto areas of darkness. xoxoxo

    • Diva-Mama
      February 15, 2012 | 10:26 pm

      And thank YOU Eve for always having a gracious and kind word. It’s still heartbreaking isn’t it? Where were you in your life when The Bodyguard came out?

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