“I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.”
“The sudden death of legendary singer Whitney Houston has left the music industry in a state of shock. Although her passing came far too soon, the most-awarded female entertainer of our times has left an inspiring legacy, particularly in the Christian world.
Whitney’s roots, early influences, and musical training overflowed with faith-filled melody. Gospel singer Cissy Houston was her mother and first music teacher. Other singers in the family included her godmother Aretha Franklin and cousins Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick, all of whom shared gospel music as a fundamental component of their artistry.
An 11-year-old Whitney first sang in public as a performer in the choir at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. It did not take long for the little girl with the big voice to be featured in church services. Whitney’s first solo performance in the church was “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” She later told Jet magazine that the hymn is “a song that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
During her extraordinary career, Whitney won two Emmys, six Grammys, 30 Billboard Music Awards, and 22 American Music Awards. She experienced worldwide sales of more than 170 million albums, singles, and videos.
With regard to the Christian world, Whitney’s most significant contribution took place in the mid-1990s at the height of her career. In 1996, the soundtrack of “The Preachers Wife” would ultimately go on to become the largest-selling gospel album of all time, with 6 million copies in worldwide sales. Two of the tunes from the album became hit singles, “I Believe in You and Me” and “Step by Step.”
At a Hollywood nightclub two days prior to her passing, Whitney would give what would end up being her last performance. It is fitting, given the inspiration she provided to all, that Whitney’s last song before leaving this earthly stage would be the gospel classic, “Yes Jesus Loves Me.” (Footnote)”
Despite her obvious faults, Whitney Houston is greatly admired for her faith. When she used her talents to sing directly to the God, it was heavenly.
I have wondered what Whitney could have done if she went “all the way gospel”. And by that, I don’t mean to say her mainstream career was in vain, but I wonder how many more songs she could have created that could have brought others closer to Christ. But then again, I have to tame my imagination and realize that perhaps she did more in that realm than I realize.
Whitney’s voice was indeed God given. And her passion for the Lord radiated in her music, even in songs that were considered contemporary. Being a traditional gospel enthusiast, I really do enjoy when even contemporary artists do gospel songs and albums. Shoutout to Mariah and Christina. Yes, there are plenty of talented gospel singers out now. But we’re past the Golden Age of Gospel. Most talents these days may be raised gospel, but when they enter the music industry, they likely go pop/adult contemporary.
Since Whitney’s death, I’ve been compelled to think of many of her songs as gospel songs. Not a new concept, I know. Many love songs are a simple translation away from being gospel. Some of my other favorite examples of contemporary songs being applied to as gospel songs is Musiq Soulchild’s Love and even, The Temptation’s Ain’t Too Proud to Beg. Sister Act I and II were full of them.
God’s so good, that just referencing him in a song can even convert a song that initially was talking about Other People’s Privates (“You down with G.O.D.!”)
As you read through these lyrical re-arrangements and listen to the original song, just be aware that it will take a degree of open-mindedness to disregard what may seem corny or awkward, as well as some musical savvy to follow along. Some songs were easier to translate to gospel than others. Feel free to comment your suggestions the gospel re-arrangements. Enjoy and be blessed!