Another dress. Another auction. She was not a princess. She was a mega singer – and one of the best in the world. She married at a time when her voice was everywhere on the radio. But this singer and this wedding will always be much more personal to me. Because the singer was Whitney Houston – and she was my next door neighbor. While the world was listening to her on the radio, I was listening to her from my backyard, recording music from her own studio. No one could ever know what hearing that stunning voice meant to me. When my parents were invited to her wedding, my heart started singing. I will always remember my brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law, unapologetically situating ourselves at the entrance to her house, watching the cars enter and waving and talking to the guests – until the sun went down.
Whitney Houston would have been fifty years old yesterday, August 9th. She will always have a special place in my heart: for a brief few years her world collided with mine when she moved in next to my parent’s house in New Jersey. I have three distinct Whitney Houston memories:
– when she sat in the booth behind us at the local Chinese restaurant. She was with her brother and her friend Robin, and it was at the height of her success in the late 1980s. She was dressed casually in jeans and a leather jacket and she was absolutely radiant. Perhaps it was because she was relaxed with friends and family.
– when I sat in my parent’s backyard and heard glorious music coming from her house. She had a recording studio in the house and on one particular day the stars aligned and I heard her sing a concert just for me! And,
– when she got married. I never saw her that evening, but my parents were invited to her wedding and my brother and sister-in-law and I stood at the front gates with the paparazzi trying to get a glimpse of the people approaching in the limos. It was a blast!
One of my favorite Whitney Houston songs is actually one she sings with Mariah Carey from the 1998 animated movie, The Prince of Egypt. It’s called, When You Believe. It’s a completely beautiful duet of their amazing voices. I love the lyrics: “There can be miracles when you believe. Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill. Who knows what miracles you can achieve, when you believe. Somehow you will. You will when you believe.” When I hear it I get goosebumps every time!
Happy Birthday Whitney. I will never forget you.