Whitney Elizabeth Houston, pop singer, died on February 11th, aged 48.
THE year was 1985, the scene Whitney Houston's second sellout concert in Carnegie Hall in New York.
There were almost 3,000 in the audience, and from somewhere among them, as she launched into “I am Changing”, a voice rang out: “Sing it, Whitney honey! Sing us the truth!”
当她开始投入演唱歌曲“我在改变中(I am changing)”时，突然,不知从全场近3000人中的哪个角落里，跑出一个声音,喊道，“尽情唱吧，惠特妮•休斯顿！为我们唱出真实的自我！”
But what was the truth? Apparently it blazed before them, a huge, pure, beautiful voice from an impeccably poised young woman who had strode out in an evening gown, radiating self-confidence.
She didn't move much on stage: every ounce of power was reserved for filling the hall with spine-tingling ballads of longed-for love.
Her fans could see that this was God-given, a gift hauled up from deep inside,
as when the little girl in the New Hope gospel choir had closed her eyes tight and soloed“Guide me, O thou Great Jehovah” in church,
and the Holy Spirit had rolled out over that congregation. Others, though, could see she was a product of careful packaging by Clive Davis of Arista Records,
然而有些人，却认为她是爱丽丝塔唱片公司（Arista Records）的克莱夫•戴维斯（Clive Davis）精心包装的产品。
who had spotted her in a New York night club, signed her at 19 and then waited two years for the right string-lush ballads to come along;
who had cut back the frizzy hair, lightened the make-up, changed the dress, and launchedher on the world so perfect hat by 1986 she was Billboard artist of the year, an instant sensation.
Like Cinderella, she said. And, like Cinderella, she claimed her ambitions were small.
All she wanted was to go to the mall and find true love, like any other 21-year-old.
But as a soul singer her heritage was already royal rather than rags: daughter of Cissy Houston of the Sweet Inspirations,
cousin of Dionne Warwick, god-daughter of Aretha Franklin (“Auntie Ree”), all of whom she'd learned from when her braids still got in the way of the microphone.
Hard-headed, she had chosen to build her career the way Mr Davis advised her: “Longevity,that's what it's all about.”
Besides, she enjoyed being a princess—possessor of multiple platinum discs, holder of six Grammys, earner of more money and seller of more records than any female star before her.
She would order her entourage around and sack them repeatedly, trusting only her mother not to “talk shit to my ear” or “blow smoke up my ass”.
Fame brought her a five-bedroom house in the New Jersey countryside, with a built-in recording studio and an Olympic pool.
It also brought a train of big-voiced imitators, from Mariah Carey to Celine Dion to Beyoncé;
she never worried about any of them, because “whoever comes got to come after me”.
Even after 1992, when she took to disappearing for years at a time, her giant voice went on reverberating.
Songs such as “I Will Always Love You”, “I'm Every Woman” and “One Moment in Time”so long in the charts and in wine-bar Muzak that they seemed to get into the bloodstreamof the world.
歌曲诸如“我将永远爱你（I Will Always Love You）”, “我也如普通女人（I'm Every Woman）”和 “在那一刻（One Moment in Time）”在排行榜以及白葡萄酒吧的助兴音乐中占据了如此之长的时间，以至于这些歌曲就好像融入了世的血液之中。
For some years she held the post of America's Sweetheart, pretty, God-fearing and patriotic.
She went to the White House to discuss youth projects, and set up a foundation to fight illiteracy.
Her rendering of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Superbowl in 1991,
during the Gulf war—cuddly as a teddy-bear in a white tracksuit—was so joyously rousing that it was reissued in the wake of the September 2001 attacks.
But she was bad, too. She liked to shock and cuss, saying that anyone who claimed that recording songs was creative, rather than commercial, was a fucking liar.
Her private life grew raunchy, with marriage to bad-boy Bobby Brown in 1992 propelling her into a whirl of boastful sex, violent rows and cocaine.
Her sequinned act was just a performance, she said; Bobby, by contrast, she could be real with. As for what “real” meant,
she was either her own best friend or her worst enemy, she said once. “The biggest devil is me.”
Through it all, there remained an anodyne constancy about the songs.
Miss Houston had placed herself—or been placed—so solidly in the mainstream that she could not easily wriggle out of it.
There was a point to this: it allowed her to break onto MTV and the late-night chat shows, forging a new path for black women as Michael Jackson had done for the men.
It also proved, to many blacks, that she was not black enough, showing none of their fury and very little of the soulful gospel depths of Auntie Ree and Cousin Dionne.
在许多黑人看来，音乐同样暴露了她不是一个合格的“黑人”。她没有展现黑人的暴怒，也很少像其教母安蒂娜•雷(Auntie Ree)和堂姐狄昂（Cousin Dionne）那样展示福音歌的灵魂深度。
The cutting urban hip-hop of the 1980s she found ugly, like listening to her brothersboast of the women they'd laid. （It's not Right But it's Okay）”。
When she tried angrier songs herself—as in “It's not Right But it's Okay”, in 1998— they still seemed as cool and glossy as her blue sheath dress.
The scratchy defiance of later albums (such as “I Look to You”, her last, in 2009), owed more to the drug-ravaged thinness of her voice than the miseries of her recent life.
她后来的专辑（诸如她在2009年推出的最后一张专辑“我看着你”（I Look to You）中透出的嘶哑叛逆感，更多是因为她那被毒品摧毁而变得细弱的声音而非她近期痛苦生活的感悟。
Who she was, and what she really wanted, remained as unclear as her bathtub death in a Los Angeles hotel on the night before the Grammys,
at which Adele, another big belter in the Houston style, carried away most of the prizes.
She needed the give and take of an audience, Miss Houston said. Besides, God had given her this gift to use.
Yet told by Oprah Winfrey in 2009 that her voice was a national treasure, and that some people thought she had squandered it,
she could only whisper, terror-struck, “That's heavy.” Too heavy, was perhaps the truth.