My Friend, The Queen
Alicia Keys on Whitney Houston’s universal appeal and the rewards she left behind.
When you’re introduced to someone’s music when you’re, like, 6, you’re not thinking, Wow this person is a global superstar. The only thing you’re thinking is, I love this song, or Look how beautiful she is when she’s singing it. Something captivates you about this person and they become part of the fabric of your life. They mark moments in your life until the next thing you know, it’s your graduation and you’re singing “Greatest Love of All.”
It wasn’t until I got older that I realized how big her reach was. I started traveling and seeing, “Oh, wow, they play her there, too?!” I was fortunate enough to meet her, and work with her, and have a friendship and a sisterhood with her. And I’m really, really thankful that I did. With fame, you’re expected to be a shadow of yourself, or a picture of yourself, the TV version of yourself all the time. And I think people see you in a beautiful gown on a cool TV show and think that’s all that you are. There’s a compassion that’s missing. The way Whitney has touched people’s lives—I don’t think I recognized that. I don’t think they did either. I don’t think the world fully comprehended the way she touched their lives until all of a sudden she was not there anymore. And there’s a hole. You can feel it. I guess we take people for granted. And it’s sad that we do. --Alicia Keys