Archived Story

It’s a strange, strange world

Published 10:39am Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It has been checked and double checked on, so it must be true….Whitney Houston is dead.

The much loved singer, the owner of six Grammy awards and a pair of Emmys, was found dead Feb. 11 in a bathtub inside her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. It’s been rumored that a deadly mixture of drugs and alcohol led to her death.

About the only way one would have missed all the countless TV shows dedicated to Houston’s memory last week was you were totally blinded by either the courthouse issue in Hertford County or the high school merger over in Northampton.

Houston’s story of her rise to fame and fall from glory has been plastered all over the digital and print media for a week. According to my unofficial count while scanning the TV on Saturday, Feb. 18, her funeral was carried by at least five networks.

I’ve always been intrigued by the fascination Americans, and others worldwide, have for movie stars, singers and the like. And it seems that the more dirty laundry made public on these media darlings, the more people seem to gravitate towards them.

It’s no doubt that Whitney Houston was a gifted singer. That voice earned her the distinction of being the most awarded female recording artist of all time, according to Guinness World Records, with a total of 415 awards stretched out over her career. Included in that lot are 22 American Music Awards, the all-time record for a female solo artist. She captured a single-year record 11 Billboard Music Awards in 1993.

While Ms. Houston certainly left her mark on the music world, I wasn’t among her many loyal fans. My respect for her dwindled after learning that her stirring rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” during the 1991 Super Bowl played in Tampa, Florida was a lip synch. Her version of our American anthem was indeed a beautifully crafted piece, only it was done in a studio and not performed live.

To me, as the son of a World War II veteran who bravely defended his country on the battlefields of France and Germany, if Whitney Houston wasn’t brave enough to stand on that field – without the presence of bullets flying around her – and belt out a live version of that song, then that’s a disgrace of our men and women in uniform who place their lives in harm’s way. The blood they shed wasn’t fake.

In that vein, Ms. Houston should have heeded the famous words of Major Frederick Blesse, USAF pilot during the Korean War – whose plane was inscribed with “No Guts, No Glory” or those of Sir Winston Churchill who was quoted as saying, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.”

Yep, Americans are star struck by individuals that can act or sing, but let a true hero die in battle on foreign soil while protecting our freedom and those deaths are just a fleeting thought. We don’t even bat an eye upon hearing that news and surely don’t see hours and hours of TV coverage dedicated to their deaths.

What a strange world we live in.


Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

  1. hertford3

    How can Cal Bryant criticize for not honoring those who serve us and every week he makes sure you understand how he feels about our President by begging you to write him. If he wants to support those that served us why doesn’t he write a column. Stop whining everyday Cal.

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  2. anytime

    Mr. Bryant I honestly don’t understand your negative reaction toward Whitney Houston. She was performing at the Super Bowl, a sporting event, a football game for gracious sakes. How does it disgrace our men and women in uniform if she lip syncs her own recording of the National Anthem. And I repeat, her own recording. She was not singing at a memorial service for service men and women. She was not singing at a service honoring the armed services or at anything remotely related to the armed services. She was performing prior to a sporting event. How in heaven’s name does that disgrace our service men and women. I utterly fail to see the connection you are trying to make.
    Mr. Bryant there is something strange going on alright and it’s in your head!

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  3. concerned

    I did a little research Mr. Bryant, and learned that all of the recent versions of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl are lip-synced or backtracked. The musical directors at Super Bowl insist on it. There is so much money invested it the overall music production they don’t want to take a chance that something will go wrong.
    But if you question Ms.Houston’s ability to sing live in front of a large crowd just go to YouTube and watch and listen and be enthralled by her vocal range. She was arguably one of the five top vocalists ever.

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  4. concerned

    Ms. Houston donated all of her share of the proceeds from the sale of her rendition of the National Anthem to The American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund. The song sold over one million copies.
    Ms. Houston, in 1991, put together along with HBO a “Welcome Home Heroes” concert for the soldiers fighting in the Persian Gulf and their families. It was a free concert at the Naval Station in Norfolk, VA in front of 3,500 service men and women.
    In 1994, Ms. Houston performed three concerts in South Africa to honor President Nelson Mandela. The funds were donated to various charities around that country.
    In 1990, she established the Whitney Houston Foundation which raises and donates money to children causes.
    I just wanted to give you a more complete perspective of the woman whose character you called into question.

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