A Bit of Real Life, General Writing

Where Do Broken Hearts Go? by Orlando Bishop

In the wake of Whitney Houston’s death this weekend, I found myself sitting around as shocked as everyone else. I felt I should write about her, but where to even begin? I was overwhelmed and staring at a cursor on a blank Word document. Suddenly, in a lovely bit of kismet, my good friend and fellow writer Orlando Bishop mentioned he’d put together “a little something”–writer-speak for a thoughtful, engaging piece that I immediately begged to repost here. With that, I gratefully introduce my first guest blog entry. Enjoy~

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On Sunday morning, at around 5:30, Maya, my six-year-old daughter strolled into the kitchen, where I sat drinking coffee, enjoying a quiet moment with Whitney Houston. She asked what I was listening to, angling toward the TV remote and hoping that she could turn on “Phineas and Ferb” before I decided to watch “SportsCenter.” I answered her, “I’m listening to Whitney Houston. She had a beautiful voice. She died yesterday.”

“Whitney Houston: Dead at 48” The succinct headline states the fact without embellishment, as if the folks over at TMZ knew we could take it from there. The outpouring of emotion after this loss has been and will be enormous, appropriate given the magnitude of Whitney’s talent and stardom. Over the next days, weeks and months, we will see tributes, music videos, status updates… A combination of these, in fact, stirred me to start typing.

I’d been reminded of many of Whitney’s masterpieces on Facebook and elsewhere. I’d grabbed my own iPod as soon as I heard the news. However, it is the song title that stared at me from my friend’s page, the simple question Whitney had infused with exquisite pain and longing so long ago, that lingers: Where Do Broken Hearts Go?

My daughter has been down this road too many times over the course of her short life; she was moved neither by the news nor the note of melancholy in my voice. After all, I’d had my one-man music wakes for Teena Marie, Rick James, Heavy D and, of course, Michael. (In fairness, even my six year old twins knew to care about that one.) As my baby girl settled on my lap, remote in hand, I offered, “After Phineas and Ferb I want to show you some of her music.”

As I gazed down at Maya, her head pressing back against my shoulder, her ever-growing legs stretching on forever–or at least to the next kitchen chair–I immediately thought of Bobbi Kristina. Bobbi Kristina, who hasn’t lost an icon or an idol or a diva, but a mother. I wondered how she was at that very moment. I wondered how she might have learned to manage stress over the years. I wondered…

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12 thoughts on “Where Do Broken Hearts Go? by Orlando Bishop”

  1. I know it’s odd leaving a reply on my own blog but like, I said, Guest Blogger. Thank you, Orlando, for contributing, and for our late-night editing session. If I’d done that more in college maybe I’d have pulled more As!

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  2. I really enjoyed this entry… Great perspective – from the “crack head logic” to the impact of what she meant for little Black girls everywhere… Wonderful written! I think it impacted us so because she embodied what a superstar should be – just grace, elegance and her “image” manufacturered was simply what we aspired to be – beautiful. There were no raunchy lyrics. Ever. I mean even when people say this generation has Beyonce – she still has “grind up on him show you how you ride it” lyrics I need to shield my kids from. Whitney – none of that. Older generations and younger could come together and appreciate her music and simply put – the girl could SANG. I love her and wish her peace she did not have here on earth. “To be absent in body is to be present with the Lord”

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  3. That’s a great point about Houston’s lyrics, I hadn’t thought about that. One thing I’m having trouble with is her being described mostly as a pop singer. I always considered her an r&b singer; in my mind “pop” describes something flimsy and breezy (e.g. Britney Spears, Mandy Moore). And pop has its place; Houston just wasn’t a part of that genre, in my opinion.

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  4. I was reading some of the comments on Amazon, as I looked to buy a Whitney album, and was struck about how she had such a large passionate international following, who could comment about the songs which were missing from the particularly offered CD.

    Somewhere I read, probably Wikipedia, that she received 450 awards for her music. And 69 albums. As an older person, I am sorry I wasn’t/am not part of the MTV generation. At least YouTube gives me a chance to bear witness to her greatness. The quality of her voice was so superior to our contemporary singers. I’m grateful she left such a large legacy for her fanbase, audience and daughter.

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  5. I agree, YouTube is a great conduit for getting to her music and others’. She was a real singer for sure. Singers today are more like synchronized talkers on helium. And unfortunately, younger people don’t demand more. But there are enough people out there who do, as evidenced by Adele winning every Grammy in her category. I never watched her on reality TV, and now I’m glad I *don’t* have that to clutter memory of her.

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  6. She was a great woman. I have been watching closely all the tributes that have been playing about her life, and certainly the world has lost a true icon. But sadly enough Bobbi Kristina has lost a mother. I hope she finds strength during this very hard time.

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  7. I worry about Bobbi as well. It seemed like she was just settling down as a teenager with her mom and then this happened…Hopefully the other women in her life can help her navigate through this terrible ordeal, and keep her from self destructing.

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  8. Thanks to each and every one of you who has commented and/or shared this piece. It came from the heart and I’m glad it spoke to others [especially friends I haven’t seen in years like Monica and Atu. :-) ]

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