That you’ve been dreaming of...”  With the graceful sweep of her long, slender arm lilting my way, those were the words Whitney Houston sang to me when our eyes locked.

I was a lanky 15-year-old at the time.  September 1986 at Kemper Arena in Kansas City.  I brought her flowers, and I’m pretty sure they were carnations.  Classy.  I brought a date, Amy Chwojko (and I didn’t bring her flowers), and I was terribly disappointed that our seats were nowhere near the stage.  I imagined that after the show, she would absolutely sneak out from behind the stage to meet me.  Why not?  I brought her carnations.  I was her biggest fan.  It was a completely plausible scenario.

Whitney Houston was my pop star idol, like she was to so many.  The first singer I was ever obsessed with because she was astonishingly beautiful — that face and that voice.  In every Grammy Awards show she was nominated, I could hardly contain myself, more nervous than her momma Cissy and auntie Dionne, I’m sure.  In my bedroom, my walls were plastered with any poster, record jacket, Teen Beat photos I could find.  Whitney represented something to me back then.  I identified with her.  I felt a connection to her.  Perhaps overzealous teenage hormones run amok?  My first (female) celebrity crush?  Diva worship?  Appreciation for a truly gifted vocalist?  Probably all of the above.

I remember she opened that concert with Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin Somethin?” prancing across the stage with a giant bouquet of balloons.  Think of Pixar’s Up.  I swear there were that many balloons, all anchored by Whitney’s tiny frame.  And that was about as much dancing as she did that night.  It was all about her voice and its crescendo to the final encore and her signature song at the time, “The Greatest Love of All.”  This was it and the rebel in me took over.  I abandoned Amy, jumped to the floor of the arena and rushed the stage.  She was drenched with sweat but she was gorgeous.  Pacing back and forth across the stage singing to everyone in the front row.  As the song wound to an end, Whitney belted out the final verse, “And if by chance that special place, (eye lock with Whitney now) that you’ve been dreaming of…. leads you to a lonely place, find your strength in love.”  I never met her of course.  The guard who took my flowers surely pitched them in the garbage immediately.  But it was as close as I got and it was enough.

As hokey as the lyrics are to me today, they were a source of strength for me when I was coming of age.  There’s something to be said about youth and how music can get you through the crap and the angst of teenage life.  My love for Whitney goes beyond her looks and voice, she represented the promise of my future.  “The Greatest Love of All” was my “It Gets Better” inspiration in 1986.  It reminded me to keep my eyes on the horizon.  Always.  Thank you, Whitney.  You’ll be missed.

  1. Dee

    Wow…..great read! I, too, was and still am a Whitney Houston fan and was fortunate to see her in concert at Kemper Arena in 1987. I won tickets on Q104 (horrible upper level seats) and again on B95 (lower level seats). Of course, I used the lower level tickets cause me and my best friend were determined to get on the floor so we could get near the stage…and, we did!! We even managed to ALMOST get backstage by talking to Lynette Woodard, the first female Harlem Globetrotter, and asking her to pretend that we were with her….pretty slick for 14 and 15 year old suburban girls. LOL

    Like you, Whitney was my pop idol. She was beautiful, had the voice of an angel, songs that would become the soundtrack of my life, and a presence that made everybody take notice. Her music got me through the days of being an insecure teenager, making the transition from middle school to high school, and going through the hurt and pain of a breakup while in college…Whitney was right there. Hearing that pure sweet voice aligned with inspiring lyrics always reassured me things would get better.

    The voice that comforted me for 27 years of my 40 years on this earth has been silenced but it’s that same God-given gift of Whitney’s that continues to comfort me as I deal with her passing. I will miss and love you forever Whitney.

    Thanks CenterOrch for those fond memories and paying tribute to “The Voice”.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: