Whitney Houston was a Jersey girl who I first saw and heard sing when she was wearing her hair in a natural so short it couldn't have been more than a quarter inch long [I couldn't find a photo of how she looked then and since we all have I'm sure a clear image in our own minds of her at her best I'll leave it at that].
She was skinny but beautiful with the most amazing voice and beautiful face I thought I may have ever seen at that point. She didn't dance very well but she sang like no one else, something that can rarely be said about any "artist" or of anybody doing pretty much anything actually.
I had been hired to write a movie for an up and coming white male movie star and I came up with a story for his character, a Country Western singer/songwriter drifter where he gets hooked up with a black Gospel revival and he falls in love with the preacher's daughter who happens to have the most amazing voice.
I wrote it for Whitney Houston. But the studio that hired me to write it didn't know who Whitney Houston was as she hadn't become a singing sensation yet and besides they didn't think audiences were ready for a biracial romance, something they'd been telling me for years actually.
Of course I was happy when THE BODYGUARD came out years later and proved them wrong and me right, but by then Whitney was a huge star so it wasn't much of a gamble on their part. I followed her early career pretty closely and bought her albums and continued to tout her to people and was happy when she became a star and sad when she ran into troubles.
I was as proud of her Jersey roots and family ties, Cissie Houston, Dionne Warwick and all, as I am of my own, and for a while she actually lived not far from one of my extended family. I felt a connection that with time faded but came back today with full force when I heard the news of her passing and when they played not one of her hits, but her singing of the national anthem in that Super Bowl that time, the clip made me feel like my heart was breaking for the seemingly fragile young girl I first fell in awe of for her talent and beauty and who in the end perhaps was still too fragile in the face of life's hardships and challenges.