Houston: Model, singer, actress, superstar

When Whitney Houston made an early morning appearance in Central Park three years ago, she repeated an act her mother Cissy initiated by introducing her to a Manhattan crowd at a time she was an unknown teenager.

The summer of 2009, the acclaimed queen of pop brought her 16-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina onstage the Rumsey Playfield where Good Morning America presented a live, televised concert and after introducing her only child, together they sang to cheers from an adoring audience.

Houston’s mother Cissy, a gospel singer had made a similar gesture in 1983 at a Manhattan club/restaurant known as Sweetwater’s. Although her 19-year-old daughter was a burgeoning model and already a cover girl selling ‘17 Magazine,’ the soulful singer boosted the career of her only daughter by taking her onstage for a club debut.

Whitney was not shy to crowds, she had been singing in front of congregations at her Newark, New Jersey Baptist church. There she built a reputation as a phenomenon.

What patrons to the west side, popular night spot may not have known then was that Clive Davis, the president of Arista Records was also in the audience.

After handing the microphone to her daughter, Cissy watched as crowds erupted into applause after her daughter sang a song of choice. Soon after that occasion, the young, New Jersey native emerged a recording artist and a voice the world would reckon.

After the release of her first album, the world became aware that Whitney had family ties to the music industry.

In addition to her talented mother, Whitney’s cousins Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick, and godmother, Aretha Franklin, the acclaimed queen of soul virtually ushered and guaranteed her success in the music industry.

But Whitney’s unique and superlative range and register seemed more than enough to propel her career to meteoric rise that placed in her the Guinness Book of Records as the most successful and awarded artist of all times.

Nominated 26 times for the prestigious Grammy awards, she owns six.

She quickly amassed 512 nominations and a collection of 415 awards.

Houston’s 99 RIAA awards, 30 Billboard Awards, 22 American Music Awards, 16 NAACP awards, 7 Soul Train awards, six people’s choice awards, two Emmys, and numerous humanitarian honors related to fostering quality education and performing arts are too numerous to count.

She is the only artist to chart seven consecutive number one hits.

She starred in films – “The Bodyguard,” “The Preacher’s Wife,” “Waiting To Exhale” and “Cinderella.” Houston died in Los Angeles, California on the eve of the music industry’s biggest awards night.

She died Feb. 11 in California, on the eve of the Grammy awards.

She was 48.

Jamaica’s Bacchanal Carnival Begins

An entire season of carnival was recently launched in Kingston to celebrate Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of Independence and the revelry of its people. Until April, an action-packed schedule of cultural festivities will move from parish to parish to incorporate an all island season of celebration. A series of high-energy events are now taking place across the island and features live entertainment from popular soca and dancehall performers from the Caribbean. A kick-off began recently in the capital city of Kingston and will culminate there in April.

Already the city is being transformed into a mecca of entertainment with costumed parades, colorful floats, and the pulsating sounds of soca, reggae, and calypso music.

“The Carnival season is a celebratory time when visitors and locals alike take part in Jamaican-style festivals,” John Lynch, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism said. “As we commemorate our 50th Anniversary of Independence this year, this carnival season takes on special significance in also honoring our heritage.”

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