BOOK REVIEW Fans of Whitney Houston will surely love this book | Deviations

This song.

It always makes you want to dance with someone. It gets your feet moving and your bottom bouncing and the lyrics coming out of your mouth. And this singer who sang it to you for the first time…? You know what happened to him, but in “Didn’t We Almost Have It All?” by Gerrick Kennedy, you’ll get a few more pieces of the puzzle.

She died two days after he met her “in a room inside the Beverly Hilton…”

Gerrick Kennedy fell in love with Whitney Houston in a movie theater when he was just five years old. He bought her music as a teenager, followed her career closely, met her once, and even now his partner knows what music explodes when he sees Kennedy ‘flying away’ with ‘headphones popping out’. of my ears”. Now, nearly a decade after his death, Kennedy thinks it’s time for accountability.

“We missed the first time so much,” he says, and we have to look at Houston’s contribution to “our dialogue about fame, addiction…mental illness and blackness in America…”

“To fully appreciate the anointing that graced Whitney’s voice, it is essential to understand the almighty power of Cissy Houston.”

Indeed, Houston learned on her mother’s lap about God and gospel music—knowledge that came from a distant source: Cissy’s parents made church and choir the center of her life. God was a beacon for Whitney, and other musical talents — cousins ​​Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick and “Auntie” Aretha — provided further guidance to young Houston.

Her debut album went to No. 1 on the charts; “She was on fire at the door…” Kennedy said. Most people remember the power of his biggest hit, that “BOOM,” he says, before Houston’s voice soared, but a combination of drugs, bad decisions, and a bad relationship tormented towards the end of his life. We watched “in horror” as she slipped and “At first we all watched, waiting…for the worst to happen…”

In his introduction, author Gerrick Kennedy says he wanted his book on Houston to be different from all the others, more meaning, less problems.

He succeeded. To a point.

It’s hard to separate Houston the icon from Houston the megastar — they’re mostly one and the same — and going back two generations or profiling other singers and music executives doesn’t help as much as it does. asserts Kennedy. This stuff is all fluff; interesting but covered elsewhere.

The best part of “Haven’t We Almost Had It All?” comes in the last third of the book. This is where Kennedy examines the depth of Houston’s contributions and the “meaning” of her decline and death for the black community. There’s a lot of soul-searching in there, as well as a shift in how we think about our celebrities.

Tackling “Haven’t We Almost Got It All?” so, and you can expect to see things you already know, but you can also expect to be thrilled. It’s a fan’s book, of course, and reading it might be the greatest love of all.

“Didn’t We Have Almost Everything? In Defense of Whitney Houston” by Gerrick Kennedy, foreword by Brandy

circa 2022, Abrams Press $28.00 306 pages

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