Has Houston Got Trouble, Or
Is It Us?...
Women On The Web: Liz Smith: Has
Houston Got Trouble, or Is It Us?
WELL, THERE it was on the front page of USA
Today, a great big headline – "Can This Career Be Saved?" It was accompanied
by a dramatic photo of Whitney Houston. The story itself was inside, in the
excellent entertainment section of the paper, but I guess the editors really
wanted us to know of Whitney’s problems.
According to reviews and gossip trailing the star’s comeback concert tour,
Whitney’s voice is a shadow of what it once was, and her manner onstage
sometimes disturbing. The online websites have insisted Houston has fallen
off the wagon – that she is back on drugs or drinking. Naturally Houston and
her reps deny this. She’s been battling a flu, that’s all.
Here are a few thoughts. I can’t believe anybody going to see Whitney today
could possibly expect her magnificent voice to be unchanged. Even in the
very sympathetic atmosphere of the Oprah show, some months back, it was
clear that her voice has suffered. As with Julie Andrews’s recent concert in
London, audiences need to be realistic. (Yes, yes – I know. Julie’s voice
was damaged because of a botched procedure of her throat. Whitney brought
about her own vocal demise. But the result is a diminished instrument, all
Regarding Whitney’s onstage behavior and appearance – geez, at this point
have people not gotten the message that Whitney Houston is not the
soft-spoken princess-y girl who first wowed us back in the 1980s? She’s kind
of rough and tough and wacky. She married Bobby Brown, for heaven’s sake!
And for those startled by how Whitney looks at times – she has always,
always had an issue with excessive perspiring onstage. By the middle of her
concerts she tends to look the worse for the wear. But her damp glow doesn’t
necessarily mean she’s "under the influence."
I’m not naïve. Back in the day, I was one of those publicly calling for
somebody to do something to save this girl. Her drug use was an open secret.
But now I have no pipeline regarding Whitney. So, maybe she’s in trouble,
maybe this is just the way it is with her voice – and she is trying her
best? (In the recording studio she can sound wonderful still, if a bit
Can this career be saved? Perhaps it doesn’t need saving. Fans and critics
have to grow up and accept that abuse has altered her great gift. She knows
it, believe me. If it were a mistake to tour, it’s too late now. She’s out
there giving what she has, so let’s go easy, OK?
If she OD’s tomorrow you can all call me "Pollyanna." I’ve been called
14 MAY 2010