By now, most of us have gotten over our shock and dismay over the sudden death of Whitney Houston. An amazing and rare talent – a voice like no other – will never again make new music. That Houston’s later years of life were full of strife and addiction to drugs and alcohol, compromising her ability to share her amazing voice, will forever be a painful memory to many.
But in looking at countless images of Ms. Houston singing, I have noticed something: on stage, performing, she showed a consistent vulnerability to share herself, and she showed females, performers and otherwise, what class really is.
First, the vulnerability. I had no idea that one of Whitney Houston’s signature stage movements was “arms wide open.” Over and over, she can be seen standing at her microphone, moving her feet, tapping her microphone with her fingers …but at some point in her performance,opening her arms wide open…as if to say, “here I am! Receive me!”
That is a move as vulnerable as are arms folded across one’s chest a sign of being protective of one’s self. There is an openness in being vulnerable that, to me, invites love and power and passion and love into one’s soul. I had never noticed how often Houston did that “arms wide open” move, and it makes me wonder if her vulnerability was both one of her greatest blessings, and one of her greatest curses as well. People latch onto celebrities, but people really latch onto those who make themselves vulnerable.
Then, I noticed that Houston showed so much class in the way she dressed on stage. In an age where female performers show as much skin as possible, and work on perfecting the most sexy moves possible, Houston very often is seen in classy, beautiful elegant attire. She looks beautiful and sexy within that beauty. I hadn’t noticed it before. My mother, a wise soul though she died young, would always say that a woman ought to make people (especially men) wonder a little. I thought of that as I looked at her, looking demure yet fashionable, pretty and beautiful yet sexy, all at one time. It was like her statement was, “All I am here to do is sing.” And sing she did. To be fair, she acknowledged she was not a good dancer; perhaps if she had been she would have dressed differently; she would have had to. But as she was, she was a class act. An “arms wide open” class act.
Even when she sang The Star Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl in 2001, she was …classic Whitney. A white athletic-looking warm up suit with a white head band …that was all…and there she was again,singing her heart out, eyes bright and sparkling, smiling and sharing, it seemed, her soul, with literally the whole world.
I am not a prude, but I do sometimes find myself wishing that young female performers showed a little less of themselves. It’s easy to get distracted if too much is showing, if there is too much “bumping and grinding” going on. The whole world doesn’t have to see everything, or nearly everything, God blessed one with.
Ironically, as I am writing this, I’m thinking that I don’t notice, or haven’t noticed, male performers going to the lengths that women do to “be” sexy. They just “are” sexy. They come out on stage and, like Whitney …just sing. They dance, some of them, but they are still far more suggestive (to me) than are the girls who come out almost flashing their God-given gifts.
Sigh. I’ll bet it’s just me. I’m just thinking, though, that I would rather see a talent come out on stage, “arms wide open,” dressed in a way that supports the talent being shared, not that detracts from it.
Chalk these old fogey thoughts up to a mother who always said, “less is more.”
I think she was right.
A candid observation …