February 11, 2012 will forever be etched into the minds of ardent fans of Whitney Houston. Few of us could forget the mortifying news flooding across Twitter and later through all sources that Houston was found faced down in her bath tub at the Hilton Hotel. Shortly after, Houston was pronounced dead. Dubbed by her mentor and label Chief Clive Davis as the "greatest contemporary singer," Whitney Houston is Guinness World Records most awarded female singer of all time. Over her three decade long career, Houston has had also made an impact with her inspirational songs. Her 1996's "The Preacher's Wife" Soundtrack is the best selling Gospel album of all time and she has had her mammoth share of GMA Dove Award and Gospel related wins. In remembrance of Whitney Houston's second anniversary since her departure, we take a retrospective trip back to visit some of Houston's finest inspiration moments:
10. "Step By Step" from the Soundtrack "The Preacher's Wife"
Originally designated as a B-side for one of Annie Lennox's single, Houston shows that she can take any sidelined material and transform it into a magisterial hit of epic proportions. Cutting loose on this uptempo about taking life one step at a time without being paralyzed by tomorrow's worries, Houston whips her vocal magic making this sound like a gripping sermon that becomes a fixture of encouragement in our hearts. Added pleasure though is the vocal presence of the song writer Annie Lennox adding her stoic vocal contrast.
9. "You Light Up My Life" from the album "Just Whitney"
Released during Houston's "crack is whack" era, her 2002 "Just Whitney" album was overshadowed by her infamous Diane Sawyer interview and her personal faux pas. Nevertheless, fans know what a gem "Just Whitney" was. Initially scheduled to be her red carpet entry back into the spotlight, this big ballad is a cover of Debby Boone's immortal hit "You Light Up My Life." Houston's adds her Gospel touch making us think of her plea to God to re-light her nocturnal life again. Listening especially to her whisper to a roar rigor especially the way she builds and builds towards the song's crescendo finale is itself a stunning experience.
8. "When You Believe" (with Mariah Carey) from the album "My Love is Your Love"
Ever since the 1990s, Mariah Carey has often been pitched as Whitney Houston's rival. To put such rumors to cease, the two super powers came together to record what was the theme of the movie soundtrack "The Prince of Egypt." Both Herculean voices come together for this over the top ballad that speaks of the power of faith, a theme so pertinent to the movie's storyline of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt.
7. "Count on Me" (with Cece Winan) from the Soundtrack "Waiting to Exhale"
If art imitates life, this is a prime example. Not only do the two women sing about a friendship that defies hardships and trails, Winan remained a faithful friend even through Houston's most tumultuous times. Producer and the song's co-writer Babyface makes this heart-warming ballad even more special with that added touch of lush strings that makes you feel so blessed to have real stormy-weathered friends.
6. "One Moment in Time" from the album "Greatest Hits"
An Emmy Award winning song that Houston contributed to the 1988 Summer Olympics Soundtrack, "One Moment in Time" is iconic Whitney Houston. A booster of a song to all of us to take the courageous step of stepping out in faith, the message is incarnated in Houston's performance twitched to its tenth power. Demonstrating an absolute command for every note, Houston brings us on an Olympic ride from the song's lows to its Everest high notes. And she doesn't just touches the peak she camps there holding on to the longest of notes.
5. "I Look to You" from the album "I Look to You"
"One of two tracks written by R. Kelly, "I Look to You" is the title track of Houston's final studio record of the same titular. Though many have attempted to tackle this ode to look to God in the midst of our storms, Whitney Houston sings this song with gravitas. Her years of toiling with her inner demons (her drug issues, her dud of a husband and her declining popularity) bring out a soulful anguish that younger singers could never duplicate when she sings: "about to lose my breathe/There's no more fighting left/Sinking to rise no more/Searching for that open door."
4. "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" from the Soundtrack "Waiting to Exhale"
After all the hoopla surrounding "The Bodyguard," Houston returns back with her final Billboard no.1 hit "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)." "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" is an understated shuffle that shows that Houston can be just as effective when she is restrained and pensive. No song demonstrates more of Houston's variegated vocal color than this Babyface-penned classic. Here Houston reminds us that in every storm and trials that we face, there will always be moments we can "exhale" in grace.
3. "I Believe in You and Me" from the Soundtrack "The Preacher's Wife"
No enterprise or business or church or relationship can ever flourish without the words "I believe in you and me." Ushering in the holiday season of 1998, Houston melts all the ice and halts all the winter chills with this searing Top 5 ballad "I Believe in You and Me." Teaming up with David Foster (who produced Houston's "I Will Always Love You"), Houston glides and soars with every fiber of drama in her soul as she sings about a love that believes, persists and prevails.
2. "I Will Always Love You" from the Soundtrack "The Bodyguard"
Though it's a song about parting, "I Will Always Love You" is heard at weddings, graduations, 21st birthdays and even anniversaries. Thanks to country songbird Dolly Parton who s able to make palatable a universal cry of the human heart and Whitney Houston's way of resounding it with so much passion, "I Will Always Love You" is as universal as it is sublime. So, when you have someone who sings about love so grand who cares about the song's context; everyone wants to be loved like that.
1. "I Love the Lord" from the Soundtrack "The Preacher's Wife"
One of Whitney Houston's most personal songs: even though this song was never released as a single, Houston would sing it over a number of her world tours. It's not difficult to see why "I Love the Lord" was one of Whitney's favorites. Based on Psalm 116, the song speaks of how God answers the cries of those who reach out to Him. Somehow one would wish Whitney had listened to herself more and love the Lord a little more....