Editor's Note: Sheryl Lee Ralph is a Tony award nominee for her work in the original case of Dreamgirls on Broadway. She has appeared in TV and films alongside stars such as Denzel Washington, Robert DeNiro, Whoopi Goldberg and Eddie Murphy. She is founding director of The DIVA Foundation and author of an upcoming book "Redefining DIVA," which will be released next month.
By Sheryl Lee Ralph, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Like so many others, I was stunned into shocked silence when I was told of Whitney Houston’s death. I thought about Whitney and her battles with music and misery over the years. She was so very different from when I saw her for the first time back in 1981 and said to myself, ‘oh my, that’s a “Dream”!’
I was on Broadway at the time making my mark playing Deena Jones in the original cast of Dreamgirls. We were a hit, a bonafide smash. Night after night at the Imperial Theatre, we ended every show with the kind of applause that brought people to their feet. But just up the street in a club called Sweet Water, there was a teenager doing the same thing: her name was Whitney Houston. She was as fresh and as fabulous as we were, a real life Dreamgirl who was also giving audiences moments they would never forget. I know I will never forget how in that little club, sitting with my Dreamgirls co-star Loretta Devine, we both thought, ‘Wow, this girl is the real deal.’ But just as fame came calling on us, it came for Whitney too, and it wasn’t always nice.
Everybody wants Fame, but Fame is a very difficult friend to keep. It can be like a jealous lover who wants you all to himself and when threatened, will beat you up, ruin your good looks, tear down your self-esteem and even kill you. In order to call Fame your friend, you have to have it all together. You have to be ultra-strong, solid to the core and know that God is good. Fame will build you up just to crush you down. You have got to have faith along with fame. You have got to know who you are or Fame will take you out. We have seen it happen over and over: Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse.
Whitney had a real show biz pedigree– Auntie Ree Ree (Aretha Franklin) was her godmother, Cissy Houston, lead singer of the Sweet Inspirations and background singer for Elvis Presley was her mother and Dionne Warwick was her cousin or aunt. I could never get it straight. She had a simplicity and innocence about her in the beginning with her close cropped curly ‘fro and skin with a hint of left over teenage acne. She was just a purely talented kid and there is nothing like pure, raw talent.
In the beginning Fame was wonderful. I will never forget those lavish 80’s parties, where we were surrounded by the beautiful “yes” people who told you, yes, you’re right, yes, you’re beautiful, yes you’re wonderful. Yes, Yes, YES! Whatever you want, yes! It was all there for the asking. No one tells you no and you feel protected. You think they are there to help you. New fame brings friends, clothes, jewelry, sex and drugs. A dangerous mixture. Then add a little alcohol for an extra kick. But just as quick as you go up, you can begin the descent down.
I saw how drugs took the best of Nell Carter, the actress/singer who playwright Tom Eyen was writing Dreamgirls for. She left us to pursue a bright career in Hollywood when she landed the sitcom “Gimme a Break.” I remember Nell telling me to “stay away from the hard stuff” as she vomited into the toilet. I have never forgotten that moment.
The next time I saw Whitney, I could tell that Fame was having its way with her. We shared a very talented makeup artist and he had a serious drug issue. I don’t know, but I thought he was sharing his issue with Whitney. It hurt to think that it could be true.
I saw her again several times on the set of the TV show “Moesha,” with and without her husband of fifteen years, Bobby Brown. I could see Fame was walking with both of them. It was obvious. Whitney and I spoke quickly and quietly as I helped her turn her wig around. I was saddened to see what I saw and I wished there had been more time to say “Stop!!” To remind her of that great beginning of hers and tell her how quickly it all ends. To let her know that the road she was walking with Fame has had the same end of the road for everyone who has walked it that way. But there wasn’t the time.
I didn’t have the time to tell her that she was not some ordinary diva. She was a DIVA! - Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed. But all too soon the DIVA has died again.
Opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sheryl Lee Ralph.
Maybe she's jealous of Rick Santelli whose rant on the same nerowtk inspired the Tea Party. Or, maybe, she's a man-hater who associates anything she doesn't like with men. Or, maybe (again), we should just make some dumb blonde comments.
I absolutely agree with you joe. What does being close to a person mean if you can't be there for them. Whitney, as we all know, had an addiction problem, if the rest of the world knew this why weren't people who were actually in her life helping her out?
It's like she was on some bad street by herself. Shame on those who could have helped.
It is amazing how these supposedly internationally 'loved' people are the loneliest people of all. It's really unfortunate that these people don't receive the true love they yearn for. Why is it like this? Where are all the close relatives of these people during their time of need?
Sometimes falling in love with the wrong person can lead to devastating tragedies. But the heart has it's own way... and sometimes it's hard for the rest of us to understand why a person chooses to do things they do.
But one thing for sure, when you're suffering and the pain just gets deeper and deeper, not having a truly loving person there to help you through can make you turn to unhealthy 'fixes' just to feel a bit better.
It is indeed very sad that Whitney is gone.
This is a very powerful post you've written – the way you personify "Fame" as that mysterious force that can lift you up but drop you down is great.
I am sure Whitney would appreciate your memory of her.
Actually Ralp, you're the one being racist here. You're calling people "white trash" simply because they are talking about the inappropriateness of lowering the flag for a celebrity who died under the influence of illegal drugs. I happen to think Whtney had the greatest voice of all time and am really saddened by the choices she made in life that took her down the road she traveled; I'm glad her suffering and fears are over but wish it could have been different for her.
all those people in whitney's "close circle", no one did anything to help her, especially her brother and sister-in-law. he is her flesh relative. (but, they were spending her money). she was severely depressed and I know she knew here health status. I feel if someone was with her who had medical background that could have monitored her intake of the prescribed drugs and alcohol intake (because, the drugs elevates the alcohol level (which alcohol is a depressant, and that made her condition always worse). I know she was always dehydrated because, the large amount of alcohol, the fatigue, and vomiting (she was losing body fluids, so she needed iv fluids to replace lose fluids in her body from the drinking). my god! she needed help! (I work in the medical field for over 30 years now, I wished I had met her, believe me I could have really been there for her. I prayed so much for her and I still pray for her soul. the lord knows my heart, I would have taken care of her). I still cry for her because, she wanted to live, she did not want to leave her daughter, her baby. whitney was crying for help and no one heard that inner cry. love and peace!
I wish she had someone like you in her inner circle.You would have persuaded her from using the drugs, and you would have not let her use the bathtub alone for a period of time. We need more strong contentious people in the world, not paid enablers.
I have a funny anecdote: My 9-year old had a cold. I was about to give her 2 medicines: a cough syrup and a fever syrup. But just after the first medicine, before I could give her the second one she said: "Stop mom, no more medicine,
I don't want to end up like Whitney Houston or Michael Jackson".
She thought Bobby Brown was a "bad boy." All he turned out to be was a ghetto rat who did marijuana and crack.
The main lesson from this tradegy is to learn to recognize when a person is in trouble especially of drugs were a part of their past. It is not ok to have a drink or celebrate with alcohol, if you have had past issues with drugs. This is just an introduction to do more drugs and an addict will not stop, they will continue until their bodies have had enough. We all loved Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson other persons that were well known and loved, however this did not stop their addiction or addictive behavior. Let us all remember from this day forward, they needed love. This was a reach out for help from Whitney Houston and someone should have recognized she was on the brink of something terrible. She was grown and she made her own choices, but thru it all, WE LOVED HER DEARLY AND SHE GAVE US SO MUCH THRU HER MUSIC. Reach out and help those we love and show them love in doing so.
dee, I'd like to co-sign with your message, and hope America starts saying no to enabling behavior. That's the lesson I want America to learn.
If we consider the challenges, the fears we the ... regular 'Joes' face everyday and all the avoidance mechanisms we engage in not to face them... now magnify that, a kazillion time. Perhaps, then we may have a slight notion of what this woman's life was like. To be graced with one of the greatest voices, to be expected to be 'perfect' at all times, to have to portray an image created by others but at the core, not who you really are... and all the time, dealing with her own doubts, that she's not good or pretty enough.. no one but Whitney Houston knew what her internal fears were, none of us have a clue what it is to be one of the best in the world or the pressures that come with that... What I can say is, her demons within must have been loud and viscous for her to have sought 'refuge' in such self-destructive behavior. I mourn not for her death, cause energy never dies... it transforms itself. I lament for her time spent in such pain... now, she's free..
Dear Sheryl Lee Ralph: You did nothing. Way to go! And you got a story out of it too! Aw"ight!
Dear editor: Dreamgirls wasn't a case. It was a cast.
enough already..she had her time in fame..she had a great voice once..but like so many celebrities before her..she threw it away to drugs and booze..so sad for her daughter..sadder yet she has tried drugs herself.. so-called celebrities who are addicts are NO heroe and should not be made a matry upon their death.. the flags at half staff and cnn coverage should be saved for REAL heroes.. save it for our military and dignitaries.. NOT celebrities who are addicts
I agree. People die everday and each day takes each of us closer to our death. What is important is how you live life. Not everyone lives life to its best. One has to be strong to say no to all the temptations in life. If not, then the weak will fall and the strong keep going. Say no to drugs.
we won't make them martyrs, like Elvis & Sinatra.
Hello all, here's a little something to think about.... No one ever promised any of us, a smooth beginning, middle or end in this life. The quality of our existence is found within the choices that we make moment to moment. Although lesser media outlets would rather we dwell upon the most tragic portions of our fallen celebrities lives.... I thank CNN for covering the full spectrum of Ms. Houston's life experience as well as her beautiful coming home celebration...
There is so much for us to learn in this life, and in many cases, as a witness to the lives of others, especially our beloved celebrities. But, the lessons we choose to hold onto, to remember of a life well lived, be it our own, a loved one, or our perception of the life lived and lost by so many of our fallen celebrities.... the lesson learned, comes from within us. As a witness to a life well lived, the lesson learned, are those we choose to hold onto. This is a reflection of who WE are, as individuals, not the totality of the life lived by our fallen celebrities.....
Think about this; What will you choose to remember most of the life and offering of Ms. Houston? Her beautiful gift, her singing voice, her lyrics, the beautiful words of her songs... or her tragic end, her years of struggle, attempts to hold onto a life that became much to much? Imagine losing the one thing that connected you to the world, the one thing of which the entire world identified you with... her voice. Did she give up, no... Ms. Houston had the heart of a Lion, and following a few mistakes, (that we all make in this life) but are never witnessed by the world, she tried her best and rose again....
What I haven't heard anyone mention, and what very few ever admit to having is DEPRESSION. Can you imagine the level of Depression one would feel after losing such a magnificent gift as Ms. Whitney did... Can you imagine being invited, in your worst state, to your mentor's, Clive Davis' party and The Grammy Awards, where every voice is heard, celebrated and rewarded, and you no longer have yours....
I believe what Ms. Houston was desperately trying to mask by way of drugs, alcohol and erratic behavior was a severe case of depression, something none of us ever admit to having, and something that we would never attribute to a celebrity, because compared to our lives, they have so much to be thankful for.... I believe, those that witnessed Ms. Houston's behavior leading to her untimely passing, were witnessing a woman struggling with severe Depression and the choices she made in this life, that lead her to this end... That because of her celebrity status, her tears went unnoticed... The thought of being invited once again, to an event where the voice is celebrated, your mentors party, where all would witness the demise of your gift... just became to unbearable.
I don't believe we will find any level of foul play with Ms. Houston's death, what we'll find are a series of well doers that believed, by giving Ms. Houston what she wanted, all that she asked for, even witnessing her behavior without loving judgement... that things would be alright. Whitney knew her gift was gone, her final album was a complete struggle for her, but like a Lion, she pushed through it best she could.... But it became too much, and the party, and pressure of being faced with her new reality, just became too much to bear, and she simply wanted to rest, to escape her silent pain.
We were blessed with the opportunity to witness an amazing life, someone that touched the world with her gift. It is now up to us, to choose which portion of that life we would most like to remember.... Like many before Ms. Houston, what do we remember most about Jimi Hendrix? His military days, his incredible gift of playing his guitar and forever changing the world, remember his Star Spangled Banner! (There is something not only patriotic but highly spiritual going on with celebrities and their desire to master this song). Or do we dwell upon his painful end.
What about Janis Joplin, Marvin Gaye, remember his Star Spangled Banner! What about Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, Karen Carpenter..... all of them suffered some some level of silent pain, in spite of giving us so much... What do we choose to remember about these gifted lives...... and their tremendous struggle of balancing their incredible God given talents, the responsibility that comes with these extraordinary gifts.. and living a somewhat normal life.....
There is another comparison, that I will think upon a little further before writing too much... What about the life of Jesus?
What do we remember most, his birth, his incredible teachings, his words we can all live by, or his tragic end, his ultimate sacrifice, his suffering.... Metaphorically, there are some comparisons.... I'll give it some more thought......
Don't you think this went overboard for a drug addict flags at half staff, how great she was, what a wonderful person she was, and so on you have got to be kidding me.
How we forget the people that gave their lives for this country to see flags at half staff for her and front page news what do we do for the people who has earned the respect last page just another death what a shame.
I am not saying she wasn't a GREAT SINGER AND A GOOD ACTRESS BUT really what did she do for this country to deserve all this attention sounds like idol worship to me.
People need to get a grip and see what's important and it's not just another singer/actress who died.
How many times did she entertain the troops, how many USO trips did she make give me a break.
Right on Ed1 people forget about the people who give their lives so we can have the choices we have.
And this is a choice, good or bad. If people choose to mourn Whitney Houston, that is their choice. That is what makes our country great. You don't have to agree with the choices people make but you should fight like hell to allow them to make those choices.
Sheryl, although most likely true, so sick of hearing all the ugly sordid details. Not necessary.
Nervana rules the grunge scene and Elvis ruled the rest and they too were role models.
I heard that when they pumped Whit for her blood it had a street value of 200K with all the liguqified drugs.
Remember boys and girls...don't be like Whitney....say "NO" to drugs!
No folks be just like Whitney as she is the best role model and CNN approves it with all the coverage.
She is worthy of teaching all that this is the only way to be cool. It's like ciggerettes in the movies and tv for the cool wow factor to get those to join too.
Unfortunately her "ADDICTION" won. The only person that can beat a addiction of many years is a person who makes their personal recovery, "Priority One" and doesn't associate with anyone that uses. This is a way to be restored to a normal lifestyle and be held accountable. There is no excuse, again we will miss this icon. Its to bad, because it can be pervented. Remember God is Watching, as this is a test for what lies ahead, and when you run a honest program without lies and being in denial this is when the miracles start happening! God Bless those who believe in their Higher Power. NM.
Sheryl sounds like a jealous phony.Why did she mention the wig incident?Why was the tone so negative?
Wow! I am just saddened by the amount of blaming the victim that I have witnessed with the death of Whitney. I am not one to follow the stars but I must admit that I am very saddened by the death of Whitney because I can see the spiritual aspect of it. And it was obvious that this was an anointed woman of God got caught in Satan's grip. And he (Satan) had lots of helpers (enablers) to help him.
Now everyone especially ( those in her immediate last circle) who witnessed her behavior and saw all the drinking that she, a recovering addict was doing, want to excuse their guilt over her outcome by saying "ultimately it was her choice what she did". I have yet to hear anybody come forward and say "I tried to stop Whitney when I saw her drinking too much and taking the pills" I have yet to hear anybody say "I tried to take her to her room when I saw how drunk she was while doing hand stand by the pool".
What I heard many say about her at her service yesterday was that she was always there for them. Some of those same people were part of that last immediate circle of Whitney and it is unfortunate that they were not there for Whitney, at least not in the right way.
My heart goes out to her mom and closest relatives who were not part of her immediate last circle of "Fame friends" who had to from a distance pray for her and encourage her from a distance because, yes, she is an adult. So now I say to them to continue to stand knowing that you did all you could.
I want to believe that in Whitney's last moments in that tub that her final moments were with her asking our forgiving God to forgive her and save her from falling deeper into her sin. I want to believe that in her final moments she was delivered into the loving arms of her Father and that her beautiful voice has been restored to her in heaven and now the angels in heaven are dancing to her songs.
I was thinking the same thing. She seemed to be there for everyone else but no one seemed to be there for her. It is sad. I saw Kim Burrell's interview on BET and she said Whitney's feet were sore one time and wanted them rubbed. and she had lots of people to do things like this for her but no one would so Kim told her that she would so she stated rubbing Whitney's feet. Whitney had tears in her eyes and Kim asked her why she was crying and Whitney said "because you really love me." I think that was so sad. She was surrounded by people but was so alone.
Beautiful said Yolanda.
The debate is heated on who is to blame for Whitney’s demise. I think it is just sad that care and concern for one another does not seem to be there especially in Hollyhood. Perhaps it should be renamed “Evilhood”. I really wonder how all those people surrounding her could allow a public self confessed addict consume alcohol one glass after another. This woman had been clean for a while only to see alcohol again after a long time. What do u expect? It’s like u’ve been starving for days & then stumble upon a buffet, what do u think will happen? Pipo that should have been looking out for her:, firstly, her Bodyguard ofcourse! Where was he? Wasn’t he paid to protect her from any harm, including from herself? Alcohol & medications do not mix. Wasn’t the bodyguard supposed to protect her? A drunk woman doing stunts by the poolside? Hallo? Couldn’t anyone call security? Where is the Body guard? They say she was strong willed. Really? If she was she would have had the strength to resist the alcohol. Pipo were just scared & intimidated of her. I think deep inside she was so fragile. ‘Strong will’ was just a defense mechanism. If she was strong willed she wouldn’t have stuck around an abusive marriage. She was the Queen of soul music on the planet. She could have walked away in good time but she didn’t. We women love so much and want to believe the other person will change. We tend to see the good in our spouses and believe they can change. But bad company corrupts good morals. No matter how strong willed you may be, if you hang arroung the wrong pipo, sooner or later u’ll be influenced by their bad behavior. It must have hurt Whitneys self confidence, a Diva as she was, for her hubby to cheat on her and spit in her face. He treated her like that and she stayed on? Wow! Her spirits must have been dampened. She probably lost herself & didn’t realize the power she had. I’m not an advocate for divorce, but I understand pipo like J Lo who decides one day that she is really not happy in her marriage and she leaves and starts a new life. I think she asks herself, “ why should I stick around and be miserable and end up wasting myself, when I can easily be happy even on my own with no one making me unnecessarily miserable? She has the money and power and can easily walk away. Woe to the women who cannot easily walk away from abusive relationships simply because they have no way of surviving without their mates. If they did, they would end up homeless.
You need to surround yourself with real friends who are able to protect you from yourself. Imagine your friend gets a rope and hooks it to the ceiling fan, gets a chair, climbs on it & starts putting the rope around their neck. Are you going to start cheering, “go mimi, go baba, go suzie? Of course not. You will definitely stop them and rescue them from themselves. We all have addictions or temptations. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray, “deliver us from evil…”. I usually pray, “Deliver me from myself.” Simply because I know some things I cant overcome in my own strength, I need the power of God to do so.
I agree,that was a bit personal wasn't it?about the wig,she could have said,I helped fixed her hair which was disheveld,as if sheyl doesnt wear wigs herself.!
Waverly, she wasn't negative enough. Houston had a voice, fair enough. So does Alicia Keys, Christina, etc. All are beautiful and for some unknown bs reason,when you're dead, you're more beautiful, more talented, more creative, more genius. No, you're dead.
Whitney got lucky with the right people and she blew it. She's one of many. I'm not judging. It's a shame and it's a fact. She could have had it all for the rest of her life. She had a child, she had money, she had one heck of a church and she could have done so much more, been so much more. She chose drugs. Are we done now?
Agreeing with the wig comment.
When Ms. Amy Winehouse passed away, presumably with the same type of problems, they didn't endlessly drag her through the mud. We got what was going on.
Very sad about Whitney Houston. A fabulous talent, and I do hope she is with her Lord. But with regard to this piece, it's interesting that people are so very quick to take credit for the good results in their lives, but fail to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions they may not be so proud of. Just a couple of corrections. " drugs took the best of Nell Carter", well, not really. It was Nell Carter who took the drugs. Also, "I didn’t have the time to tell her that she was not some ordinary diva." The truth is, Ms. Ralph, you have exactly the same amount of time as the rest of us – twenty-four hours a day. How you prioritize it is up to you.
You are right. People make time in their lives for things they really want to do.
Whitney Houston's voice was one of the most beautiful I had ever heard. I cannot help to think that perhaps the very thing that made Whitney famous-her voice–was the very thing that made her feel lonely at times. (I saw her on TV stating that many times she felt lonely.) Think about it....people loved her for her voice. Perhaps she wondered who loved her for her. When Whitney lost that beautiful voice, many people went away. I hope when Whitney was lonely or sad or ill, that she found comfort in the people who truly knew and loved her..and that those people remained by her side. May Whitney Houston rest in peace. Thank you for sharing your talent with the world. God Bless your soul.
Whitney Houston's passing was unfortunate, and I loved her voice. That doesn't mean I condone her lifestyle, or that I was shocked by her passing. I'm just saddened it ended the way it did. At least the music will always live on for her fans, and the ones who knew her best can take comfort with their memories.
I am heartbroken by Whitney's death but I will celebrate her life. I will always love you Whitney! RIP my beautiful girl.
"just as fame came calling on us, it came for Whitney too"
Sorry never heard of you, Sheryl. You WISH you had Whitney's fame I guess!
Running up on stage while others are performing? Appears as she was trying to steal the spotlight?!? just sayin
The late Ms. Houston live on in a journey that was not hers....and neither ours. God finish our journey for us in his own time. A younglady that has a name that had fame and now made her exit from this earth can we remember her without using words that to defame her; we know some of the things she was involved with. We know she had problems and we do know how she was acting and do we know if she seeking or calling out for help that we did not notice. There are a great many things that have came to take many of our love ones lives; and some times they do it themselves. We all know her my her acting and songs but others grew up with her and lived with her for many years gone by. She leaves behinds a daughter that we all needs to be concerned for. Nothing escapes the facts that no matter how much we have, where we live or the status we are in life; nothing overtake death. We all are impacted about Ms. Houston death and I am sure her family hurts more....no matter who saw it coming, that time is upon all of us and it is just a matter of when. Please, please let Ms. Houston life be a lesson for all of our up and coming stars no matter who or what they become. None will escape the facts that death overrides everything. Returning Ms. Houston to the earth where she will continue to use her voice as the young flowers and grass grows. Spirits may linger a while but, like most of the stars who have gone before her, her life and times here on eath will linger....for a while and soon to be forgotten and yet, be relived when someone or somebody speak's her name. All of my deeptest condolences to the Houston and Brown family. God Bless.
wow, that was really beautiful what you wrote sir winston. thank you. I copied it so i can read it again.
I appreciate your insight. Yes, she was famous in her own right, but she was human. She is a daughter, a mother, a friend, a companion. Some see her and rise her up to heights above our own, when she really wanted to be recgonized for herself, Whitney, the little girl who sang in the church choir. The small beginnings like we all share.
Nicely put sirwinston, God Bless and my thoughts are with you today to the Brown and Houston family's
You are so right and I just pray that this will be a lesson for others who are so tempted by drugs and alcohol. I dont think that God planned this at all but I know that He is holding Whitney in His arms.
You wrote a very nice text. I've had to make a copy to read later again. I feel the same for her. Missed her!
excellent review. Death is always a teacher. A very stong teacher. We have been given a map of how to go to heaven and avoid hell. If you take a road trip through uncharted territory without a map – that is foolish and you will likely get lost.
Singing Jesus loves me and talking about God do not a Christian make nor for that matter quoting th bible. Go to any nuthouse and you will hear more people in there talkng about God but they are out of their minds. Who was the most beautiful of all God's creations – the devil. He was the music leader in heaven but he wanted to not only BE LIKE God, in the story of Jesus who was tired and hungry after fasting 40 days in the desert what did the devil say to Him ALL this will I give you (the world) if you will bow down and worship me. You CAN have anything yo want in THIS world, fame and fortune BUT it WILL cost you your soul. All of those people of Hollywood talking about "God" are not talking about the Creator God or Jesus Christ but the god of fame and fortune. God who did not spare His own chosen people but judged them severly for their disobedience what is He some MickeyMouse God today? No. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and if we don't die clean we will NOT go to be with Him in heaven. Is He merciful? Yes. Are their not some who have strayed and in the very last moments repent and He forgives – yes. But if you are bombed out of your mind and strung out on drugs how Can you repent? You don't go into bars thinking you are innocent. You don't taake the second or third drink and act like you didn't know what you were doing. You will wind up not knowing so why begin. And drugs? You hang around people misguided and misleaded and you will wind up doing what they do and it will not be living for God. And if you don't live for Him how is it you think you will wind up with Him? Religiousness we all have a sense of religiousness – God is not religion. He is the Creator God and He holds all power over our lives now and in the world to come. I don't obey God because I agreed with Him. To follow Him requires I surrender and keep on surrendering. I do not want to have come so close and miss out in the end. Talent. God can give talent and if He does He wants it to be used for HIS glory not the glory of man. But the enemy can give talent to and he does and people crave the world and the world's ways and riches AND he will gie them and he'll take your rest and peace and if he can persuade you into drugs and alcohol he glories in you taking your own life purposely or by "accident". Either way he wins the soul UNLESS for some split second God grants a moment to repent. The thought of where Whitney is now is frightening. And it ought to scare the hell out of a host of people lauding her. And I hope it does and her death at least serves THAT purpose.
Are you God? Are you claiming to know what God is thinking or feeling? You are very judgmental.
Sometimes I think I'd rather go to Hell than be with those who claim they themselves are going to heaven. There will be a lot of good people who are in hell according to posters like this one.
So glad I serve a loving forgiving Savior. If you've never dealt with addiction in your family you should count your blessings. And if you haven't, you should keep your mouth shut about something you are clueless on. Salvation is a free gift to accept. My Lord forgives me now and always. No doubt in my mind Whitney is safe and protected. Her funeral was a service on the amazing love and forgiveness of a mighty God to the entire country. Your loud, rude opinion is what turns Christianity off to people.
sirwinston1941 – Your words are soothing and beautiful. God bless you.
When you know the root, you know the fruit. When it comes down to it, satan killed Whitney Houston because satan is
at the root of the music industry. The music industry steals, kills, and destroys people.
God is going to change the music industry so that talented people like Whitney Houston can be spared a life of
drugs, witchcraft, deception, and death.
How is God going to do it? By using us to expose the principalities at the top and kill the idols from the root.
They let you out of your straight jacket for some internet time, how 'bout that.
LOL!!! That was funny
Didn't Jamie Fox say that to Beyonce in Dream girls? Oh my that's a dream? Surely there's some fakeness in this blog.
RIP Whitney Houston, Rest in Peace!
She's not stealing anything. She was in the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls, and she played the role of Deena Jones, which Beyonce played in the film adaptation. It was play on words.
I would like to give my condolences to the Houston family, and hope that they make sure that Bobbi Christina doesn't let her Dad get any of Whitneys money. He doesn't deserve a dime.
Thank you Sheryl for your OPINION!!! I've always enjoyed reading your work. You have always been an insperation to me. Continue to go on with your successful journey! God Bless!! ;-)
I truly loved Whitney. I remember hearing her for the first time. I was in middle school and just got my new tape recorder. I played her tapes over and over again. I went to sleep onwhitney and woke up on Whitney. Her voice was amazing. I wonder if Whitney knew how much she really was loved. I wonder if she knew that her fans had not given up on her maybe she would still be alive. I do know that God gives and takes life and if it was not his will she would still be here. So we have to learn from this to tell people that we love that we wont give up on them and we love them.
I never met Whitney Houston, all I know is that I am 54 yrs old, and IMHO, the tone and timbre of Whitney's voice, I know in my core and soul that I will never hear again in my lifetime. She is incomparable. 'I Will Always Love You' should be retired and never sung by anyone, as absolutely no can sing it like she did. Her Star Spangled Banner is the Platinum Diamond standard of our national anthem and should be credited as such. There is a reason that she was called 'The Voice'. I am so amazed that people look at her problems and deem her talent diminished b/c she was still a human being. I hope all these perfect people who are STILL criticizing her, go to their graves with perfect families left behind. Whitney, you were the best, and I even though I am still distraught by this, I still have to thank God that he gave you to us for the period that he did. I know you would not want your daughter whom you so obviously loved to be alone, but God had another vision for you. Rest in Peace and fly and smile that still beautiful smile with the angels. Some of us will truly always love AND miss you. You and MJ were the very best in music. Thank you so very much.
'I will always love you' belongs to Dolly Parton whom wrote n sung it herself – thought I'd just mention it to you. Whitney's rendition of it is absolutely beautiful.
This girl should be ashamed of herself....using Whitney Houston to revitalize her 15 minutes of fame that was over long ago. It's obvious from the article that she wants to call attention to herself and her own accomplishments. Why would CNN even give her the time of day and post her article here?
I thought the same dang thing..LOL
WHAT A NARCISSIST! Most of this article was about Ralph's self promotion...the rest of it was ridiculous. WHITNEY HOUSTON WAS A DRUG ADDLED MESS FOR DECADES. No one should be shocked she is dead. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS TO DRUG ADDICTS. The only thing more distasteful than this woman's self promotion is that CNN thinks this is worth putting on the website.
You folks are very unfeeling. So all Whitney was to some of you was a drug addict? Nevermind the numerous charities and children that she provided for, nevermind the good she did in her life. As far as her being an addict for decades, that is simply not true. She was only in the business for about 25 years....so maybe a decade. She was weak, she was not able to overcome her demons....but COME ON PEOPLE....she was human like the rest of us. The difference was HER life was on display for all to see......you HATERS make me ill.
This article was just about the author riding on Whitney's coattail for some readers. I, I, I, I. When I... blah blah! Truly disappointed. May your soul rest in peace Whitney.
Even God had fallen angels. God bless you Whitney. People, we all fall short of his glory. It is NOT our place to pass judgement. Thank you Lord for allowing this beautiful voice to inspire some of us to something.
This Ralph woman is a bunch of talk. In fact, I believe she loves to hear herself babble. I recently watched a newscast with her on it, being interviewed for an opinion on something and I could tell immediately that she is full of hot air.
Furthermore, I do NOT like what she says here about Whitney Houston. She speaks about her as if she knew exactly where Ms. Houston was coming.
Talk about judgemental, geez!!!!
This just make me like this Ralph chick even less.
read..read and wait and wait and BOOM, .."as I helped her turn her wig around" Women, gotta put that smackdown in there don't u... backstab u when you're dead.
Thx friend. could've, should've, and would've, but there wasn't time... make up excuses why you didn't do anything to help her out when you knew she was in trouble.
RIP Whitney, you deserved better "friends" and a better life apparently.
I wish that I could claim being shocked when hearing the news of Whitney Houston's death, but sadly I was not.... This is a tragedy for Whitney's family, especially for her mother and daughter... I am so sorry for their loss and wish that the story could have had a different ending.
I’m a living proof that Whitney is a huge influence in my life.I admired the love she has for God.Thanking him on every award show.Grabbed my attention.I was a young girl 13 growing up with a drug addicted mother yes! my mother was an addict who was found dead On february 12th in her apartment. She basically died in her addiction and I love her to death! I forgive her with my life,it was just a deeper pain she couldn't rid herself from..I yearned so deeply for her love.And When I learned of Whitney.Her appreciation to God.It connected my soul spiritt to her a spirit of love.And through the power of love.I was encourage to Love God,learn his word.I learned to Love people through the guidance I got from Whitney.She loved God in reality thats all that matters,loving God with mind,body,and soul.God is the Author,and the finisher.And my Whitney was well aware of that.I love her for teaching me to love God through my trials and tribulation.So whatever her personal issues,it doesn't matter if we be judge here on earth.God will see to it justice is done.Do I look like God No!I love forgiving her because I know God,Thanks to Whitney. A die hard fan pours her heart out.A tribute to her idol. http://www.dominionofnewyork.com/ and http://zocalopublicsquare.org/thepublicsquare/2012/02/12/the-greatest-love/read/who-we-were
I wanted to badly to give Whitney my book."Kesha Strait no chasers"A book I know for sure would have inspired Whitney So that I may inspire her,like she inspired me through my childhood.If nothing else she needed to know I promise she needed to hear from me.That was my desire.I dedicate my very1st memoir to WhitneyHouston and my Mother.
Good Lord Sherly Lee,that is exactly how I feel.I dont know why but I truly believe if there was enough time.I think Divinely Inspired Victoiously Annoited that my little story would have made a difference if she could've heard my cry.With this book I wrote,I wrote it just to exxpression my appreciation to her.
http://www.dominionofnewyork.com/ and http://zocalopublicsquare.org/thepublicsquare/2012/02/12/the-greatest-love/read/who-we-were
Sheryl Lee Ralph is correct about fame, the glorious attention and power that it brings: all Hollywood types should have to take a course in "How to deal with your life when fame and power and strength inevitably runs out – as it does for everyone, some sooner, some later". And alcohol and drugs – the mechanism for escape – must not be the path taken, but rather one of self enlightenment. All of Hollywood now has got to get behind this important message, ans live and share it with the youth who surround those with temporary fame...
I think we should: Have her likeness carved into Mt. Rushmore; her inspirational image put on US Currency; have a national day of mourning annually for her; name a US Aircraft Carrier after her; and have all new history books devote at least one lengthy chapter to her.
Like there aren't thousands of infinately more relevent and important news stories, and hundreds of times that many truly pathetic human beings who pass each day that honestly deserve sympathy and compassion, and get not one iota of it.
When Mother Teresa passed she was lucky if the news coverage lasted five minutes.
Why don't you just move along now. You clearly do not belong here at this blog.
Go on now.... go.
I agree with Rachel. You do not belong on this blog. I do not understand why people like yourself take the time to comment if you are so offended. It offends me that you choose to try to ruin things that interest me. Go away.
Exactly. Thank you.
I liked Whitney well enough. Take the teachable moment from this and be done with it all.
Don't know where you were when Mother Theresa died, but the coverage of her life and death were extensive. I watched the whole thing. Whitney gave us some great music. Accept her gifts and move on!
Regardless of Whitney's path she chose to walk, she has been a great inspiration to alot of people and her beautiful soulful voice will be sadly missed. You truly were one of the best female vocalist in the world, Whitney and your time has come too soon. You are finally at peace. Say hello to MJ as he was my all time favourite male singer!! XOXOXO
Everyone has their own demons, some overcome them and some dont, who are we to judge..For some..life just gets the best of us...
But, WE ARE TO JUDGE. We are NOT to "wrongfully, hypocritically, hastily" Judge.
In this twisted, sick, Godless, "I can do whatever the HELL I want, because I am an ADULT" society has really misconstrued and twisted what "judgment" is and what "judgment" is not.
JUDGMENT is often thought of in our society as "hate." For instance, if you love me unconditional, then you will NOT confront me about aspects of my life that may be seen or perceived in the minds of many or in the MIND OF GOD as "immoral" "sinful" "troublesome" "dangerous" and "destructive." To confront me (this society and culture believes) on such "matters" to attempt to tell me anything other than "yes" "I agree" "I accept" "I tolerate" and "I support" your habits, lifestyle, desires, emotions, actions, choices, excuses or just your "right(s)" to be an "individual" and a "consenting adult" is somehow JUDGING and HATEFUL.
This is typical of a self-absorbed, self-consumed and self-centered society where everything boils down to SELF. So, when you live in a culture like ours, two things hold true:
1. You got those that believe to say anything "contrary" to an ADULT about their life (i.e., "style" and "choices") is casting JUDGMENT and hence, "wrong" or "hateful" or "inconsiderate" by not simply employing "live and let live."
2. You get those whom would want to SAY SOMETHING less likely to do so in fear of being perceived as "judgmental" "wrong" "hateful" "or inconsiderate.
The problem is our "post" "progressive" "modern" "secular" "self" society feeds into the MENTALITY that keeps people caught up and bound in their human frailties and fallibility (i.e., "sins") because it just isn't COOL to tell people "how to live their lives." And, to do otherwise means you are a "fundie" a "weirdo" a "hater" a "Bible thumper" an "infringement upon civil and individual rights" "a troublemaker" a "nosy" person - everything other than perhaps just being a CARING or CONCERNED PERSON (whether the person sees their "way" as good, bad or indifferent).
It is the CULTURE of TODAY that feeds into the "code of silence" of watching your fellow man and fellow woman "do as thou wilt" even if it is to their own destruction and disadvantage.
@LPATWILLFILM - preach it! We've also come to a point in culture where the meaning of friendship is so empty and vacuous that anybody you chat with on a plane for a few minutes, or vacation one time with, is called a "friend." You know, this friend, that friend, close friend, "very close" friend - friends who don't call you out on anything, who don't speak truth to better you, who care enough to keep you accountable, disciplined, focused, clear-headed, sober. Friends that Whitney could've used in life.
As to a code of silence....if you love someone you try to help them by telling them how much you love them and how difficult and painful it is to watch them self destruct...this is not about judgment...judgment is about condemning someone for their actions and thinking you are better than them because you don't do the things they do...truly loving someone is not about staying silent while someone you love self destructs..it is about saying I love you..I care about you...get help because you need it and we need you...this is not judgment...this is love! Rest in peace whitney...may you sing with the angels...you always were one!
Well...Chris has the option or the right to allow the flag to be lowered in his state if he wants too. She was an outstanding citizen/celebrity from his state! Even if he himself had died, and be it Gods' will he doesn't, the flag would be lowered for him. Would you say he was a fallen hero?? Would you even have gone there? I'm sure their would be many military fallen, who if they could speak, the wounded, whether in battle or back here at home don't mind sharing that honor with such a beautiful, God-gifted woman, who contributed so much to America and the world! The Late Whitney Houston is in fact a 'fallen hero'! She was a national treasure and internationally reknowned 'Songbird'. She was an AMERICAN! Granted....everybody who died in the same manner or at least with the same alleged stigma following them, (drugs) didn't get the 'lowering of the flag' gesture, but who should be blamed? It's not the Governor of New Jerseys' fault!! He and the people of their homestate evidently had the intelligence, reasoning, and remarkable foresight to even find it appropriate. Whitney may not have been a member of the military...but she certainly was a soldier who made it to the top of the ranks with the gift GOD gave her, but struggled in a personal war of her own acknowledging to the world that she was a victim in her personal/emotional life of a nationally and internationally known demonic, seemingly genocidal epidemic called ADDICTION! Drugs and alchohol are two of this nations biggest, most lucrative commodities...'War on Drugs'..Right, OK...LOL! Wake up America! It'll never happen! That war will never be won here! It's waaaay too much money circulating! We may need to think about lowering the flag once a year in honor of all of the dead and wounded in 'Americas' Drug War'. What about that? Rest in peace Whitney...we honor your GREATNESS!
Crack is Whack! National Hero?? Get Real.....
Sheryl, try reading sometime. They have reported Dionne has Whitney's cousin for about 20 years!!! Always Rest In Paradise Whitney! god Bless you and your family!
Talk about second guessing on Ralph's part, gawd. How pathetic. Just reinforces my newest post above. I do not like this Ralph woman at all. She loves to hear herself talk and nothing more.
RIP Whitney. We all love you.
I was saddened to hear of Whitney's passing. A very gifted woman. I am sad for her family and friends, especially her daughter Bobbi. What I don't understand is why New Jersey is lowering flags in her honor? There is much outrage from the public especially families that have military backgrounds. Flying flags half-staff is for Fallen Heros and not entertainers. Governor Christie, shame on you for allowing this to happen.
What do you expect from a governor who promotes atheists?
I believe ms houston was a prescription meds. Some ppl have to take meds and it doesnt mean she abused prescription meds. Hoever, alchol and prescription meds especially benoz's is very dangerous. Coming off an addictive drug can be very difficult also the breakup of a relationship is a stressor. She was a very young woman and i am saddened that this has happened. We need to wait and see what the cause of death was. It may not be related to anything dealing with drugs or alchol. ie. heart attack, anerism, stroke etc. Lets wait and see. RIP Whitney
He has lowered flags for NJ citizens killed in the line of duty, both the armed forces and local police. And as an exception to the rule, he has also lowered flags for Frank Sinatra and Clarence Clemons, and said he'd do the same for Bruce Springsteen. So, doing it for Whitney Houston is in line with what he has already done. It's about honoring NJ citizens who've had a global, game changing impact, in a cultural and artistic sense. It's not about honoring drug addiction or other fatal HUMAN flaws that Whitney Houston had, AND while I hate that she messed up her life so badly, that doesn't take away from her professional accomplishment which shaped our current generation of pop singers.
WHITNEY V. SINATRA & ELVIS
"course, when singer Frank Sinatra died and New Jersey’s flags were flown at half-staff, this kind of outrage was nowhere to be found — despite the fact that Sinatra himself was a drug abuser (the drug in question being alcohol).
Likewise, the outrage was nowhere to be found when Elvis Presley died of a drug overdose in 1977 and flags all over America were flown at half-staff. Indeed, as the Rockford Register Star’s Chuck Sweeney notes, that event:
a. prompted an order for “all city flags in Memphis (to be) lowered to half staff”;
b. compelled former President Richard Nixon to “ask Americans to fly their flags at half staff in honor of Elvis”;
c. and got then-President Jimmy Carter to issue a statement saying, “With Elvis, a part of our country has died.”
The above is from a recent article from David Sirota, a best-selling author with The Salon.
Someone passing is always upsetting to people. Shocked is not a word I would use to describe when people that have addictions and an endless supply of cash to feed it die. I'm "shocked" and it is "tragic" when a child dies in a car accident, or is killed crossing the street. The point of my rant is that we put these celebrities on too high of a pedestal, and when they fall with a 10 year track record pointing to an obvious end.... everyone is just beside themselves and never saw it coming. I just think the way the news covers this sort of story is ridiculous.
We ALL have our crosses to bear. I have nothing negative to say. I just feel so sad and I pray that Whitney is finally at peace and that her family finds strength in God's promise...Whitney you were THE BEST!
Sheryl Lee Ralph has made this opinion piece as much about her as about Whitney.
Ofcourse she did, did you notice the glamour photo on the right? Must have taken a bit of vaseline, rubber ties and blu- tack to get that shot.
Thanks for the article, Ms. Ralph. A lot of us don't understand how a talented and resourceful woman like Whitney could end up dead at 48. And it's so easy for me to pass judgment on her life when I'm sitting at my computer surfing the net ... Thanks for shedding light and compassion on Whitney's death.
Is the column not called "Opinion"? Duh...
Divinely Ignored Victims Anonymous, the new addiction facility starting soon for "victim mentality" celebrity druggies.
She was sooo gifted !! If only those in her circle had truly taken care of her best interest ! Maybe just maybe she'd be here to watch her Daughter become a women !!
WHEN IT COMES TO DRUGS ?? NO ONE CAN HELP YOU IF YOU DON'T WANT HELP..M.JACKSON, DIDN'T WANT HELP...MRS HUSTON WOULD BE ALIVE IF SHE DIDN'T DO DRUGS..FACTS ARE FACTS...JACKSON DOCTORS GOT SCREWED, JACKSON WAS DETERMINED TO GET THE DRUGS ONE WAY OR THE OTHER..WHEN A PERSON IS ADDICTED TO SMOKING-DRUGS–ALCOHOL THE ONLY TO TO MAKE HIM–HER QUIET IS BY FORCE..SOME DO IT ON THEIR OWN, A LUCKY FEW...
SHE DID NOT HAVE BATTLES WITH MUSIC..PERIOD
Sheryl, you knocked it out the park with this vividly written piece. I will be picking up your other written works. Stay fierce and on fire with the Truth!
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