Tuesday, April 27, 2010

She don't want to come, my soprano friend

Whitney Houston has been having difficulties with her vocals while dealing with a respiratory infection. During a recent concert in London, those difficulties came to a head.
Houston was obviously having trouble hitting the high notes, and eventually abandoned one of her big anthems, The Greatest Love of All, after a couple of verses ... Fans waited with baited breath for the show-stopper I Will Always Love You, but Houston was not able to manage a Hollywood ending, instead stumbling through it, and eventually telling the audience, "she don't want to come, my soprano friend."
(Full article here.)

As a snarky music lover, I can't help but think that Whitney Houston being unable to hit the high notes is not a bad thing. She has an amazing range. I admire her range. I wish I had her range. But, y'know, just because you can hit those high notes doesn't mean you should.

I'm just not a fan of the sound.

As a singer, though, I feel bad for Houston. What a nightmare.

When we have a gig, and I come down with something that seriously interferes with my ability to sing, we cancel the gig. But we've had that option because the few times it's happened, the gig in question was a coffeehouse atmosphere dealie. I've always wondered what the heck we'd do if I were hacking up a lung when 20 thousand people had bought tickets to see us.


Fireblossom said...

There's no people like show people, they smile when they are low...

Whitney, pfffft. Not my favorite by any means, but I will admit that the first time I heard her do "I Will Always Love You" I was floored. I saw her sing once. I don't remember a thing about the concert except how much my companion liked it. Too mainstream for me.

wyvernfree said...

Yeah, this isn't just Whitney being to sick to sing on tour one day though. She's blown her voice out entirely. She knows she doesn't have that range anymore. It's sad for her, but she knows perfectly well that she has this problem (presumably from all the drug use) and she really ought to choose different songs to sing or at least different arrangements. "The Greatest Love Of All" isn't a song that should require a 4-octave range to sing. She added all those swoops because she could; it's time for her to take them out now. IMHO.

John Wenger said...

Black music has always had flourishes in it, but lately they have become annoying; the music has been sacrificed in order to allow the singer to boast about her power to perform tricks, and I find it very distressing. Whitney Huston is hardly alone in this, although she is a very good example of it. If she can't do it anymore, maybe she will stop trying; it can only improve her singing.

While it is usually women who sin against music in this fashion, the worst example of all is Aaron Neville, the man who became famous singing duets with Linda Rondstadt. He has a beautiful voice which he abuses with his insane up and down warbling to the extent that almost every time I hear him sing anything I want to strangle him. I believe I heard him sing straight once, and the result was excellent.

Fireblossom said...

I'm back again. I can think of two others who lost their high register. Roger Daltry is still being wheeled out on stage, but he can only hit about three notes anymore, all of them loud, none of them high. The late Harry Nilsson also injured his voice and lost his high register, which was his signature.

cinderkeys said...

Pretty sad for her if she's lost that range for good. Still, if this has been going on for a long time, how'd she think she was going to pull off this concert? She didn't nosedive as badly in previous performances, but apparently she hasn't been very good, either.

The high-note flourish isn't exclusively a black-singer thing. Everyone in the Axis of Diva (Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion) does it.

Pamela Stocks said...

When I used to compere karaoke (would do anything for money when I lived in the Canary Islands), I used to sometimes do "I Will Always Love You". I never could do the high notes and flourishes though, so I'd use that time to ad-lib or do announcements. Never thought the day would come that Whitney would be doing this herself. It's sad really.

The fibromyalgia / CFS has robbed me of what range and power I did have and I now also frequently have coughing fits. I miss even my little voice dreadfully. I can't imagine how much this must hurt Whitney.