I still recall the first time I heard a Whitney Houston recording. It was her rendition of a song that had become an anthem of mine. The song had been a minor hit, a theme from a Muhammad Ali movie, and the theme of my senior prom. I’d been singing the song ever since – it spoke to me – and the original was so well done, that I didn’t think it possible for it to be improved upon.
My initial reaction to the song was that it wasn’t as good as the original. (Really – is anything?) Besides, I wasn’t impressed with the voice. In those days, I was in my signing prime, and could sing circles around this new artist.
I sang songs that meant something to me. In those early years of Whitney’s career, she sang those kinds of songs, too. Songs that pull in the listener to hear the words.
It wasn’t long before Whitney’s version of “The Greatest Love of All” became the one that I performed. And it wasn’t long before Whitney could sing circles around me (as much as I hated to admit that). Whitney’s hits coincided with my own performing career and her songs became a staple of my repertoire.
But this one was always special.
I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me
I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all
And if by chance, that special place
That you’ve been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love
I don’t know if drugs played a role in Whitney’s death, although I do know they played a role in her life. I only wish she had taken the words of this song to heart.
Rest in peace, Whitney.