Whitney Was Whitney BeBe Winans Remembers Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston's death saddened the music world, and shocked her family and friends. BeBe Winans remembers the incredible talent in this heartbreaking, yet hopeful, book excerpt.

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They get sad.

They get desperate.

They get lost.

They desire to be found.

Whitney wasn’t just a singer who wore opulent outfits on stage; she was someone who liked to wear blue jeans and tennis shoes, she liked to play practical jokes, and she loved children. The fairy-tale character on the television found her way into my daughter’s heart, but it was even more than that. She found her way into Miya's real life. Whitney was like that good friend of the family who everyone refers to as Uncle or Aunt So-and-So. No one remembers when or how they became part of the family; they’ve just always been so. Always family.

Whitney was Whitney. And that’s why we all loved her. She brought herself into everything she did. She made the fairy-tale land her own. She brought that sparkle to Cinderella (and would later do so as Jordin Sparks’ mother in her final movie, Sparkle), and my daughter dove into it headfirst.

When I run into people in my community, they ask how the family is doing and they say how sorry they are for the loss of my friend. And nearly everyone says, “I loved Whitney.” There was universal upheaval when she died on February 11, 2012. I think people feel as if their Fairy Godmother—or maybe more so, Sleeping Beauty—has fallen asleep but isn’t waking up.


I remember Oprah’s interview with Whitney a few years ago. Whitney’s involvement with “the princess movie,” Cinderella, prompted Oprah to call her “our black princess.” I would agree. I think she was that for anyone who heard her sing. She was that for my daughter.

But eventually we all grow up and the fairy tales we love to act out in our pretend worlds lose their luster.

My daughter is sixteen now. She just attended her first prom. She dressed up in her pretty dress and walked out the door, her best version of Princess Whitney. But the fairy-tale world has changed now. It changed the day I received a phone call while at dinner with my son, Benjamin. My phone started going crazy. It was my cousin Cindy. “Have you heard what’s being reported?” she asked. “No.”

Cindy told me what she knew. I hit “End” on my iPhone with a trembling finger.I tried to call Pat, Whitney’s sister-in-law, but as I was dialing, my mom’s number showed up.

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