Remembering Whitney: My Story of Love, Loss, and the Night the Music Stopped Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Honest and heartbreaking, a mother's story of tears, joy, and her greatest love of all: her daughter, Whitney
On the eve of the 2012 Grammy Awards, the world learned of a stunning tragedy: Whitney Houston, unquestionably one of the most remarkable and powerful voices in all of music, had been silenced forever. Over the weeks and months that followed, family, friends, and fans alike tried to understand how such a magnificent talent and beautiful soul could have been taken so early and so unexpectedly. Glamorous and approachable, captivating and sweet, Whitney had long ago won the hearts of America, but in recent years her tumultuous personal life had grabbed as many headlines as her soaring vocal talents. Her sudden death left behind not only a legacy of brilliance, but also painful questions with no easy answers.
Now, for the first time, the beloved superstar's mother, Cissy Houston—a gospel legend in her own right—relates the full, astonishing scope of the pop icon's life and career. From Whitney's earliest days singing in the church choir to her rapid ascent to the pinnacles of music stardom, from her string of number-one hits to her topping the Hollywood box office, Cissy recounts her daughter's journey to becoming one of the most popular and successful artists of all time. Setting the record straight, Cissy also speaks candidly about Whitney's struggles in the limelight, revealing the truth about her turbulent marriage to singer Bobby Brown, her public attempts to regain her celebrated voice, and the battle with drugs that ultimately proved too much.
In this poignant and tender tribute to her "Nippy", Cissy summons all her strength to reveal not only Whitney the superstar, but also Whitney as a sweet girl, a bright-eyed young woman, and a deeply caring mother. Complete with never-before-seen family photographs, Remembering Whitney is an intimate, heartfelt portrait of one of our most revered artists, from the woman who cherished her most.
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|Listening Length||7 hours and 54 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||January 29, 2013|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #69,244 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#94 in R&B & Soul
#216 in R&B & Soul Artist Biographies
#443 in Music (Audible Books & Originals)
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What I did not like: Cissy consistently describes herself as strong, tough and Whitney as... well, basically the opposite. I didn't think that was fair. In fact, if I were Whitney reading this from heaven, that would really piss me off. Cissy talked about how Whitney didn't really go through anything as a kid. Yes, she did. She was bullied - actually quite badly and often! Cissy talks about Whitney's brothers stepping in when a group of kids were gathered outside their home waiting to beat Whitney up - one of Whitney's brothers basically said - "Whitney will fight any one of you, but if you win, I will kick your ass." Cissy talks about these displays of family support as coddling, enabling behaviors that didn't help Whitney grow strong. I don't know if she thinks the family should've ignored what Whitney was going through. Any way you look at it, the insight she has into the past is minimal.
The truth is Cissy didn't know how to be there for Whitney emotionally and she didn't know what healthy family support looked like. Whitney learned when she was being bullied not to go to her mom with her problems. Cissy's own upbringing never included anyone asking her how she felt...about her mother's stroke, and then her death, her dad's remarriage...quite probably every other event in the Huston family. Her saving grace was God's intervention on her life.
Whitney did not need her mom to die at a young age like Cissy's did to learn strength. You don't need to be poor growing up or have a unlikeable stepmom to learn how to be strong. No, Whitney needed to be taught how to talk about her pain. she needed to be taught how to handle pain and work through tough circumstances. Whitney did not die because she was coddled or didn't experience enough tragedy to become strong. The sad outcome may have been the same for Whitney even if her family knew how to support her. But If anything - her early death came as a result of denial and avoidance patterns in the family system.
Sadly, one of the biggest stressors Whitney experienced right before leaving home was her parents' constant shouting matches. From Cissy's own words, Whitney was very distressed about their fighting and ultimately, her dad moving out. Cissy and John put their marital strife in full display, but Cissy makes it clear she never talked about what was going on with Whitney because her marriage was "her business." So you can yell and fight in front of her, but you can't have an adult conversation with her about the tension and pain going on in the home... because THAT is private?! This is where Whitney learned her destructive emotional habits! When I read Cissy saying Whitney never went through anything hard, I say Cissy never knew Whitney then. Whitney's life tells a very different story.
Cissy's love for her daughter was the love of a mother - the unconditional kind. But she didn't know how to be there for Whitney and she never figured it out.
I've been trying to figure out "what went wrong" with Whitney, so recently read Cissy's book. From what I've learned from various sources, here's my take. FYI, I'm not going to try and be that politically correct, but just tell it the way I see it.
The Houston's were from Newark, New Jersey, and though they moved to a nicer area a little way from Newark when Whitney was relatively young, Whitney and her two older brothers (who had lived longer in the poor area when young), were highly influenced by that side of town. As Cissy relates, despite the fact that Whitney was not in that environment that long, she still thought she was from "the bricks" (slang for the projects, or "the 'hood"). She looked up to her brothers, who were both even more influenced by that side of town.
To me, this helps explain how she could have been attracted to a low life like Bobby Brown, who was also from the projects of Boston. Granted, when people talk about him they invariably say he was not the one who introduced her to drugs; that it was her brothers Michael and Gary. But however one defines "love," Bobby was in no way equipped to care for Whitney. No loving husband would screw some young babe in a hotel; spray paint scary graffiti faces on the walls of their million dollar house (while their child tries to understand); go to jail on a DWI; spit in his wife's face (in front of their child); go on a "Humpin' Around" concert tour, etc.
Whitney could have had any man she wanted, yet she was "crazy in love" with this crude, totally uncultured piece of trash.
Cissy kept reiterating how she "had no choice" but to go on the road, leaving her kids with neighbors in the 'hood. Well, I don't want to judge her, but one ramification of that decision was Whitney didn't have her mother around much during some of her most impressionable years. Instead, she'd come home from school to be with her father and her two brothers who, again, were more formed by the 'hood life than she was. She undoubtedly got a large dose of their young libidos and language, which help form the prism that she saw the world through. I've found no evidence that she ever read another book after high school or that either of her parents encouraged her to develop her mind any more than the minimum required to graduate. Instead it seems she came from a culture of TV and commercial consumption, like so many poor Americans. It's incredible how someone who was so gifted in one area of her life could be so ill equipped in others.
It's also interesting to note that Cissy never disclosed her infidelity with the minister at their church, New Hope Baptist Church, which was revealed in the recent documentary. In that narrative it was suggested that one of the reasons Whitney moved out when she was 18 was because of the disgust she felt at her mother for betraying her father (who had tapped their phones to discover the deceit). It's telling that, toward the end of the book, Cissy questions whether her daughter did, in fact, love her. I'm guessing the guilt she felt over being discovered in her adultery (and with the church pastor no less), still haunted her.
Cissy also mentions that before Whitney made her last album that she was actually considering escaping with her daughter to a tropical beach to set up a fruit juice stand. As odd as this may seem, I believe if she'd done so, the two of them could well be alive and happy today.
Instead, unfortunately, Clive Davis managed to convince her that she still had to give more of "her gift" (voice and celebrity). Well, it may have made a few more dollars for Impresario Davis, but it ended up killing the "golden goose." Shame on C.D. and anyone else who didn't support her decision to walk away from the totally unhealthy fame business and explore completely new sides of herself. Though apparently she had burned through a lot of her fortune, I bet she still had enough to try a simple life in the tropics.
Last, though she grew up imbued in "the lord" and the Baptist church, her belief could not help her in the end. Sorry folks, but religion is not real and despite her fervent prayers, no one was listening. In her early career it was nice to hear her tell interviewers that she felt a duty to share her "gift" with the world, since it made her sound humble and not conceited. But in fact, she simply had lucky genes and was also lucky to have a mother and relatives as role models and teachers. The tragedy of her life confirms that there is no god. Parents of children with cancer pray their asses off. "God" could care less.
Top reviews from other countries
I am in no way here to review or rate Cissy's parenting skills or her choices. Cissy is a grieving woman who lost her child and not long after publishing this book would go onto losing her grandchild Bobby Kristina so I have the deepest sympathy for the woman.
However, the title of Remembering Whitney is a bit misleading. This book is the biography of Cissy Houston and her own career along with a massive disclaimer that she in no way knew the full details of Whitney's drug use.
And honestly I dont think it would have mattered if she did know, unless someone wants help theres only so far those around an addict can go to help so her constant disclaimer felt uncomfortable.
I read this and watched the Netflix documentary 'Can I be me' in the same weekend which made for an all around reading experience and felt that they both sang from the same song sheet. Whitney was pushed around and all anyone ever cared about was how much money she was making, her mother included. By her own words all she can talk about with regards to Whitney is her multimillion pound house, the amount of money she made, her beautiful face and her success, whitney the human rarely featured.
I did find the topic of the backlash from the black community interesting, I had heard before that Whitney was booed because she wasnt 'black enough' or that she was singing 'white ballards' so it was interesting to read more on that.
Overall I'm just a Whitney fan, I grew up to her, as a teen I doodled in my schoolbooks 'where do broken hearts go?', a teacher once responded to my doodle by writing 'to the broken heart hospital' , clearly she didnt get the point. I sobbed my way through the funeral until the point where Alicia Keyes sang her new song and told us the release date like it was some kind of promotional event when I was just filled with such sadness. Whitney deserved more than that and I feel she also deserves more than this book which I personally feel is another example of her name being used for sales.
Rest peacefully Whitney, I wouldn't say the the music stopped that night but I would say that 'didn't we almost have it all' has been on repeat since.
However I felt that the book was more about Cissys life and not her daughter's. I also felt that she has tried to 'plug' her own career as a singer and a mother when I would have liked to read more about Whitney herself.
The book was so sad at the end though and reminds us of how sad it is to loose such an amazing woman.