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Whitney Houston Last Song: A Farewell

The room was filled to capacity -- full of Soul singers, producers, musicians, writers, the very best of the R&B experience. Where else could you see Faith Evans, Brian McKnight, Keke Wyatt, Kenny Lattimore, Michel’le, Anthony Hamilton, Monifah, Goapele, and Ledisi in the same venue?

I was there -- only a few steps from the stage on Thursday, February 09, 2012 -- at Kelly Price’s Pre-Grammy Party to hear Whitney Houston’s last song.

Whitney walked in gracefully, attached to daughter Bobbi Kristina, Gary, Pat, and the rest of her entourage. She stood and watched as act after act from the Soul tradition paid homage to the greatest songs and singers. Whitney danced, hugged, and seemed to enjoy a space amongst those whom she’d seen grow up in the industry.

As I watched her embrace honoree Kelly Price off-stage, I thought of our entertainers, our generation’s most impactful, who Whitney helped to mold. Credits began to roll through my mind: Mariah, R. Kelly, Mary J, Brandy, Monica, Aaliyah, Tupac, Faith Evans, TLC, Christina Aguilera, Usher, and the ladies of Destiny’s Child. All of these artists publicly revered her as their inspiration in the entertainment industry.

After Kelly took stage, she spent a few minutes celebrating Whitney saying, “She challenged me to be a better singer. Whitney stopped me in the middle of rehearsals for Heartbreak Hotel ... and I never held back again.”

As Kelly continued to sing praises to her idol-sister-friend, Whitney daintily walked up the stairs and stood face to face with her mentee. She gently grabbed the microphone and said, “I love you ... I’m so proud of you ... my friend.”

I pretended she said the words to me. We all did.

Then, just as we thought she would leave the stage without gracing the room with the sweetness of her voice, Whitney opened up and softly sang a gospel lullaby to Kelly. Whitney’s last song was “Jesus Loves Me,” a poignant final declaration of her love for God.

The entire crowd watched and listened to Whitney’s last song, some with eyes closed -- most with tears streaming down.

This was the Whitney Houston I remembered being introduced to before I even had a concept of what an album was. That big, blue Whitney album sat up high atop dad’s old record player. My mom would play “For The Love Of You” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” over and over in the late 80s -- my very first memories of hearing Whitney’s voice.


It would be many years before I fully understood Whitney’s impact on the music industry. I played those tapes -- yes, cassette tapes -- over and over again when singles were the hot buy at Sam Goody Record Store. The Bodyguard Soundtrack was the first I’d ever owned.

There were times that I would play “I Have Nothing” on repeat or try to make the piano keys match Whitney’s runs at the end of “Run To You.” She taught me discipline as an artist. This same discipline was evident in every record she recorded. Whitney didn’t give us no mess!

Her voice defined us. It was the indescribable possibility of young Black kids to create art more impactful than anyone could have ever imagined. Her pitch-perfect soprano made our hearts stop and chilled us to the core.

Her voice was the essence of excellence.

Back at Kelly’s Grammy Party, I came across another revelation on Whitney’s voice, and that was her dedication to social issues. I listened to the same voice used to help Nelson Mandela call an end to the apartheid movement.

In 1994, Whitney was present to headline an international campaign which celebrated the release of Mandela and signaled the end of the South African massacre which saw scores of men and women killed in hate. Whitney opened her Concert For A New South Africa with a moving Stevie Wonder cut, “Love’s In Need Of Love Today,” one of the songs Wonder ultimately performed at her funeral.

Her voice was a siren for equality, a beacon for justice, in the same light as Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, and Marvin Gaye.

She spent countless dollars and lent her artistic space in support of many charities over the years including Children’s Hospital, Save The Music, United Negro College Fund, and her massively affective Whitney Houston Foundation for children.

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She gave the world so much more than her symphonious voice -- she gave the world color, hope, and life.

Near the end of Whitney’s last song, I marveled as I had forgotten about the pain, the drugs, and the questions about her sexuality, the accusations, the death threats, the stalking, the miscarriages, and the icy cold depression. I forgot how painful it was to be Whitney Houston.

She sang her song, and in some strange way it felt like she was singing her troubles over.

We’d all heard Whitney’s 2009 declaration, “I was not meant to break,” but we got to see the triumph with our own eyes, that night. The Whitney that stood before the packed crowd in Hollywood, less than two days before her untimely death, was vibrant, unequivocally beautiful, and stronger than ever.

She was strong for us.

That night I told Whitney, “I love you ... I’ve always loved you,” and in many ways, I spoke for all of us who grew up watching the AT&T Your True Voice commercial. I spoke for those of us who stared wide-eyed at the TV screen to see her pulverize the National Anthem. I spoke for those who would never get the chance to.

Whitney’s last song was more than an ironic happenstance. She sang her last song for Kelly and Faith, Bobbi Kristina, Cissy, her family, colleagues, haters, her fans, and all of the people she’d touched throughout her 48 years.

She sang for me ... and that was enough to remember the Whitney Houston that reshaped our culture, our spirits, and our lives.

Her last song was sung with dignity, pride, hope, and above all these things -- love.

God bless you, Whitney.

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Whitney Houston's Close Friend Robyn Crawford Details Romantic Relationship In New Memoir

Whitney Houston's personal life has been explored ten times over since her untimely passing in 2012 but one of her closest friends wants to share with the world the Whitney she knew and ultimately fell in love with.

In excerpts to People Wednesday (Nov. 6), Robyn Crawford presents a strong bond between the two in her new memoir, A Song For You: My Life With Whitney Houston. The singer and Crawford met in their youth while working at a summer camp in East Orange, New Jersey. From there, their friendship blossomed into something more romantic. With homophobia running rampant in the 80s, Crawford says they never looked at labels but enjoyed the experiences they shared together.

“We never talked about labels, like lesbian or gay,” writes Crawford. “We just lived our lives and I hoped it could go on that way forever.”

As their journey continued, Whitney's star began to rise which put allegedly put their romance on ice. “She said we shouldn’t be physical anymore,” writes Crawford. "Because it would make our journey even more difficult. She said if people find out about us, they would use this against us....and back in the ’80s, that’s how it felt. I kept it safe. I found comfort in my silence.”

Whitney's relationship with Crawford was mentioned in the 2018 documentary Whitney. Created by the singer's estate, the film focused on the singer's legacy and didn't include first-hand accounts from Crawford. Family members were weary of their special friendship.

"I’ve never seen them do anything but I know that she was something that I didn’t want my sister to be involved with," Whitney's brother Gary stated in the documentary.

But Crawford is finally ready to tell her own story while "lifting" Houston's legacy.

“I wanted to lift her legacy, give her respect and share the story of who she was before the fame, and in that, to embrace our friendship,” she tells People. "I'd come to the point where I felt the need to stand up for our friendship. And I felt an urgency to stand up and share the woman behind the incredible talent."

A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston is expected to hit bookshelves this fall.

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Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Black Music Honors

Keke Wyatt Announces That She's Pregnant With Her Tenth Child

Keke Wyatt has news to share that concerns expanding her family tree. On Monday (Oct. 14), the "If Only You Knew" singer revealed that she's pregnant with her tenth child.

"My husband Zackariah Darring and I are so happy to announce that we are expecting our new bundle of joy!" she wrote on Instagram. "We are excited to welcome the 10th addition to our beautiful family."

The vocalist continued to state that fans can follow her pregnancy journey on her YouTube series The Keke Show where she gives an intimate look at how she balances her career and motherhood.

 

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My husband Zackariah Darring and I are so happy to announce that we are expecting our new bundle of joy! We are excited to welcome the 10th addition to our beautiful family. Stay tuned for the release date & information for my new YouTube Series “The Keke Show” where you will see me balancing Wife, Mommy and Artist!!! Trust me.. it’s never a dull moment with my family. Love ya sugars💋💋💋 photo credit: @keever_west Styled/Designed by: @keever_west Asst: @freddyoart

A post shared by Keke Wyatt (@keke_wyatt) on Oct 14, 2019 at 4:43pm PDT

In an interview with The Christian Post, Wyatt said she believes she has "an anointing with motherhood" and looks at her children as fuel to keep striving in her career.

"I just don't believe in shutting down. I believe in that's what the Lord had for me," she said. "Babies don't get in the way of careers, we get in the way of careers. If that's what the Lord had for me from the very beginning, there's nothing nobody can do and nobody can say."

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Summer Walker's Debut Album Inspires Drake To Write New Music

Summer Walker's debut album Over It has everyone's heart aflutter, including Drake.

Off the heels of her debut project, the Atlanta songstress shared Drake's admiration for her project Sunday (Oct. 6) which included collaborations from Jhene Aiko, Usher. 6LACK and Bryson Tiller. Drake had a strong reaction to "Fun Girl," a track that speaks to the acoustic aura of her precious project, CLEAR.

Sharing his love with more than a few emojis, the rapper reveals the song inspired him to pen two new songs at the crack of dawn.

 

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So I guess fun girl is his favorite song on the album, mines isss... BODY🥰 what’s yours ?

A post shared by Summer Walker (@summerwalker) on Oct 6, 2019 at 3:02pm PDT

Summer and Drake worked together for the remix to her breakout hit, "Girls Need Love." In Billboard's  “You Should Know” series, the singer says the two met via Instagram after he gushed about her visuals to the original track. "He said, 'I saw your video on a bowling alley monitor. Thought it was cool,'" she recalled. She added it was Love Renaissance's Justice Baiden who talked her into asking Drake for the remix. The singer is signed to the label along with Grammy-nominated singer 6LACK.

Things have been looking great for the singer. Her album has topped Spotify and YouTube since it's release Friday and is expected to make a nice debut on Billboard's 200 charts.

Get to know the men behind Love Renaissance in our feature, LVRN's Reebok Collaboration Showcases Atlanta's Influence In Fashion.

 

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