Did Whitney Sound "Black" Enough?

Categories: Whitney Houston

220px-Flickr_Whitney_Houston_performing_on_GMA_2009_4.jpg

Many years ago, I auditioned for a cable show that was going to feature pop commentators debating current entertainment-biz issues.

The topic for my audition was the emergence of Whitney Houston as a hot new singing star.

My debater was in a real huff, fuming about the way her music was produced and arguing that "she doesn't sound black enough!"

I was taken aback.

Something about that didn't sound quite correct.

I muttered a few words in response, but on reflection, what I should have said was:

"There's no one way to 'sound black.' Black people can sound all different ways!

"But maybe you mean that Whitney's not as gospel-y or as 'real' sounding as you would like, considering her roots.

"It's true that her sound has been somewhat watered down in order to make massive pop hits, but the truth is she still sounds like herself since she applies her style to the songs, and she definitely still sounds black because she is black!"

Agreed?

By the way, the show never happened -- thank God!!

(Yes, I'm praising the Lord.)



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19 comments
bitchtrollfromhell
bitchtrollfromhell

Her stuff didn't have good grooves, even the so-called dance stuff, it was too commercial and polished.  Michael Jackson's stuff has exciting rhythm tracks, something she lacked.  And I agree she oversang and lacked vocal nuance.  She wasn't an artist, she wasn't creative, never wrote a song, just a decent singer.

DittoPost
DittoPost

Very good response Musto. You were ahead of ur time. 

Kortv
Kortv

IMO She sounded just "black" enough to appeal to all.  She was a combo of Streisand and Aretha which was why she had that crossover appeal.   Soulful and elegant was her style. 

anonTWO
anonTWO

Dunno how to answer that because Whitney Houston began her singing career stereotypically "in the Church" singing gospel music.And The "Greatest Love of All"  which Whitney Houston covered and made a hit is one of the unofficial American Black anthems. Houston's cousin Dionne Warwick did not or does not make specifically black music either but the tunes Warwick made with Burt Bacharact are legendary.Stereotypes are to be discouraged, even positive stereotypes hold us back from recognizing one another as distinct human beings with our own value.That said, I disliked Whitney Houston's music because I thought she oversang a tune and her stuff was too, too commercia/romantic  for me.

GoodForNuttin
GoodForNuttin

So there are correct and incorrect ways to polish and produce a raceCulture stereotype for everyone.

latenitebump
latenitebump

i know and hated this argument, too.whitney houston was a groomed and marketed specifically to be a crossover/mor/"white" act. point blank. not directly urban.she was not only chosen because of her spectacular voice but, also, in view of she didn´t possess the so-called "typical" characteristics associated at the time with black females singers perceived by mor audiences. hence, her looks/beauty (she was a model); she was pretty; she was young; fresh; to some degree wholesome; etc. no! she wasn´t a great gospel singer. she not be; but she had a gospel background.hence, the so-called "boring" elevator music. she was designed to be a cash cow which is ever evident, right now.her music may not have been "black" but the voice definitely was.there´s no question, today. she sold to/appealed to both black and white audiences. the world.black enough wasn´t the point. it was to make money with the widest audience possible!

Rhythm Agnes
Rhythm Agnes

She let out her share of 'soul screams', so, yeah, she was black enough.

Ick
Ick

No, but would you applaud a Jew who had a nosejob and changed her name?

Amy Alkon
Amy Alkon

Are Jews supposed to walk around saying "Oy!" all the time? 

Gherkin
Gherkin

Gee, I wonder why that show wasn't picked up, lol!

Pater
Pater

Agreed. She could have sounded more gospel, but how  many records would that have sold??

latenitebump
latenitebump

are you talking about her dance remixes? decent singer? hardly? when you sing background for chaka khan (especially, back in the day) you better come with something.she wasn´t an artist, etc. obviously, you´re not jewish!

latenitebump
latenitebump

that´s why i stayed home from the garage that night! my loss! i wonder if i still have that invitation, tho?

Rhys
Rhys

Not as soulful as Aretha, but who could be?

Movielover
Movielover

If she was good.  Babs did both.  Changed the honker and went from Barbara to Barbra.

Voxpop
Voxpop

 YES..it's what we do..lol

Roi
Roi

Can someone translate this into English, please?

Movielover
Movielover

It's funny how Oy and Aye (the Spanish equivalent) sound so much alike! 

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