Her voice was whatever she wanted it to be. At once pure power, she could turn on a dime and go as soft and as smooth as she deemed it needed to be.
I know nothing about singing, vocal training, or any of that stuff. I do know Whitney Houston was, literally, a once in a lifetime talent. I’ve never heard anyone better. I love redemption stories, and I had hoped she could overcome her demons and make it back to the top of the charts and under those stage lights.
As you can plainly see from her rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXV in January 1991, she handled one of the toughest songs to sing with supreme confidence. Whereas even today’s pop stars sometimes come up short on a note or two (Christina?), she OWNED every note with unwavering ease.
To me, this Super Bowl performance encapsulated her talent. There was no note she couldn’t hit, no song she couldn’t sing. In her prime, she had no rival. If you haven’t watched this performance in a while, it’s more than worth a reminder. She’s absolutely radiating joy while singing that song.
As she told Diane Sawyer in an ABC interview, “The biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy.” The only person that could stop her growing legend was herself. Despite her infamous fall from grace this last decade, this video will always be how I’ll remember her — a one-of-a-kind vocal genius who’s ability has only now found its match among the angels.
Rest in peace, Whitney Houston.