Diverse Divas…

16 02 2012

‘God gave me a voice to sing with, and when you have that, what other gimmick is there?’

‘When I decided to be a singer, my mother warned me I’d be alone a lot. Basically we all are. Loneliness comes with life.’

‘I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadow; if I fail or if I succeed at least I did as I believe.

Witney Houston (1963-2012)    

Following Sunday’s breaking news, of yet another premature death of a music legend pressing the self destruct button, like most of nation, I was unable to get that song out of my head. The haunting sund of,  ‘I…will always love you ooh…,’ Whitney Houston’s signature tune and soundtrack to countless wedding receptions was with me, all day long. 

Originally penned and recorded by country and western star Dolly Parton, as an album track, it was first released as a single in 1974, before being covered by Linda Ronstadt in 1975, and later re-recorded by Dolly as part of the 1982 movie soundtrack for ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’. She’s now set to rake in a few more dollars from downloading mourners.

But it’s Whitney’s version, resplendent with vocal gymnastics, which will always be loved best.

It was part of the 1992 soundtrack to ‘The Bodyguard’, in which Whitney made her film debut opposite Kevin Costner, but actually not the original choice as lead single for the movie.

Whitney was all set to record a cover version of Jimmy Ruffin’s ‘What Becomes of the Broken-hearted’, when it was learned that she had been beaten to it, and the ‘Motown’ hit was already being used in the film,‘Fried Green Tomatoes‘.

Supposedly, it was actually Costner who suggested, instead, Whitney cover Linda Ronstadt’s power ballad version of ‘I Will Always Love You’, complete with cappella introduction. It spent 14 weeks at the top of the US ‘Billboard Hot 100’ and became a worldwide success.    

To be honest, despite her indisputably powerful voice, with its fabled five octave range, I was never a huge Whitney fan – largely because hers was not my kind of music.

However I don’t dispute her right to a place in the pantheon of pop divas.

But I’ll leave it to British soul/R&B artist Beverley Knight, who I happen to think is severely underrated, to sum up Witney’s legacy to the music business, ‘You cannot underestimate her influence on just about every female singer since 1985 – me included…She popularised the vocal ad-lib.’                       

Witney’s death somewhat overshadowed Sunday’s 54th Grammy Awards, at which she was to have appeared. But following the tributes it was a 23-year-old Brit, Adele, who stole the show, sweeping the board with six Grammys. These included Best Pop Vocal Album, for  ‘21’, which has sold over 17 million copies and topped the charts in 26 countries.

Again, I admire the voice, but you won’t find it on my iPod – it just doesn’t appeal. But good luck to the North London girl who, as Annie Lennox (now we are talking…) said, has made it, soley through the quality of her voice, dealing a slap across the face of  an ‘X – Factor’  fixation with good looks and stylish appearance, over musical substance.       

The late Amy Winehouse, who along with Annie does feature does on my playlist, was awarded a well-deserved posthumous Grammy, for best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group, with Tony Bennett, for ‘Body & Soul’, which was received by her parents.

‘Do you want the truth or something beautiful?’

The truth is, on Monday morning I spent two fruitless hours on-line, and 45 minutes in a phone queue – listening to ‘Upside Down’, in order to secure tickets for Paloma Faith.

The retro soul/jazz artiste will be presenting a world exclusive of her new album, alongside the Guy Barker Orchestra, at the 2012 Cheltenham Jazz Festival.

No pain – no gain. I’m sure it will be well worth the waiting and something to look forward to.

As a post-script, I came across this message on Facebook today. The point is well made – sad but true!



One response

17 02 2012

Agree with you about Beverley Knight. I saw her in November and thoroughly enjoyed her show.

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