It doesn’t matter if you like pop, country, rap, jazz, metal, rock or any other type of music. Every once in awhile, a voice comes along that transcends genres and generations. One that is impossible to ignore, forget, deny or begrudge because it is just that incredible. Whitney Houston had one of those voices. And while we live in a world filled with skilled musicians and amazing performers (as last night’s Grammys proved), very few people have or will ever have the kind of rare talent that was Whitney Houston.
It would be easy to harp on the many well-publicized personal battles that Whitney endured over her nearly thirty year career but I won’ do that. I’ll leave that to the media. Instead, I’ll tell you about my favorite version of Whitney…while trying not to insult any other musicians too much.
First, let me start by saying, I enjoy a show! I enjoy almost any kind of musical performance- high school musicals, karaoke bars, jazz lounges, stadium sized concerts, Broadway shows, epic music television events…you name it, I’ll watch it. However, while watching The Grammys last night, I realized that as much as I’m mesmerized by choreographed dance routines and grand visual spectacles, I’m most captivated by the simplistic performances. Those are the ones that make me stop, look up from my computer or walk away from the dishes in the sink, to really pay attention.
In fact, the more I see them, the less I’m impressed by pyrotechnics, crazy hair colors, dramatic costumes or insane sets. It may be partially because I feel like many of today’s stars are just trying one up one another in shock value but also because when it comes down to it, it’s the beat, the words, the voices and the instrumental intricacies that are what I really look for when it comes to music. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t appreciate an elaborate performance but it probably is why I prefer the Adeles and Whitneys of the world to the Katy Perrys and Nicki Minajs.
And while I would call Whitney Houston a great all-around performer, doing the requisite dance steps here and there, I think she shone brightest on a nearly empty stage with just her voice, the melody and a microphone. So kudos to Grammy producers (and Jennifer Hudson) for paying tribute to the superstar in a simple yet powerful way. I think Whitney would have appreciated the magnitude of such a minimal performance on music’s biggest night.