Part-2: What exactly has Nippy got to do with Obama?
Nippy, the second child of entertainment executive John Russell Houston, Jr. and gospel singer Cissy Houston, cousin of Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick, goddaughter of Darlene Love, and niece of honorary aunt Aretha “Lady Soul” Franklin, was born into black music royalty.
When Newark rioted in ‘67, Nippy then 4-years old, was carted off to East Orange, a middle-class town in New Jersey. As a teen she attended Mount Saint Dominic Academy, a Catholic girls high school in Caldwell, New Jersey where she met Robyn Crawford, her first and only true love.
In another era, in a different world, they might have lived happily ever after; certainly they were a fixture around Gotham in the late ‘80’s and early 90’s when I moved there, dating and eventually marrying Karen Alexander, a model who shared layouts with Nippy in Seventeen and other magazines, before they both moved on to greater things.
The first time I heard Nippy sing was on a sparse, spontaneous, and completely unexpected cover of Hugh (Soft Machine) Hopper’s “Memories” by Bill Laswell’s group Material. The production, which sets Nippy’s soaring, breathy vocals against Archie Shepp’s soaring, breathy sax, sounds as fresh and relevant today as the day it was born. Robert Christgau called it right in the Village Voice when he anointed it "one of the most gorgeous ballads you've ever heard."
Legendary recording executive, Clive Davis, “discovered” Nippy singing with Cissy in the Sweet Waters Club in Manhattan in 1983, and signed her to a long-term contract with Arista Records. It took two years to record her first album, Whitney Houston, but it was worth the wait as the album spawned massive hits like “You Give Good Love”, “Saving All My Love for You”, and “the Greatest Love of All”. The accompanying music videos neatly bubble-wrapped Nippy in a fresh-faced, girl-meets-boy image that was as far-fetched as it was fetching, but succeeded in delivering mass-market success. In other words Nippy appealed to white people. In fact, according to a lot of white people I met at the time, Nippy was “Pretty like a White Girl,’ which is apparently a higher state of prettiness.
1987's Whitney contained four US No 1 singles: “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, “Didn’t We Almost Have it All”, "So Emotional", and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” but though she won the Grammy for best female pop vocal performance for “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, she was again overlooked in the R&B categories. It was apparent that in packaging Whitney for the mass market, Clive & Co. had begun to alienate the base. Things got so bad that when “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” was announced as one of the nominees for best single by a female at the 1989 Soul Train Awards, the audience booed.
Over the next few years the struggle to define Nippy became intense. Urban legend has it that Cissy begged Nippy to give up Robyn, telling her at one point that it was “better to be dead than gay”; which, in the cold light of history, comes horrifically close to prophesy.
In 1991, in a somewhat transparent attempt to engage African Americans, Nippy recorded “I'm Your Baby Tonight” with R&B producers Babyface and LA Reid. The sound was tougher, more urban, which is music industry parlance for black, but although the album went 4x platinum in the US, its sales were disappointing internationally. Nippy didn’t release another solo album for 8-years.
On January 27, 1991 at Super Bowl XXV, 10 days into the Gulf War, Nippy transformed the "The Star Spangled Banner" from an anachronistic waltz to a beat-driven 4/4, gospel infused smash in front of 73,813 fans, 115 million viewers in the US, and a worldwide television audience of 750 million.
That the performance, which is widely considered to be the greatest performance of Francis Scott Key’s patriotic ditty, ever happened at all is a story in itself. NFL executives, petrified that Nippy’s interpretation was “too funky for wartime… sacrilegious” ordered Bob Best, the Super Bowl's pregame show producer, to phone her to ask that she record a tamer version. Posterity suggests that her answer was no!
The night Nippy stopped the world was also the night that Cissy finally vanquished Robyn Crawford; jumping into the middle of a Nippy/Robyn altercation, and knocking Robyn to the ground, where she pounded her with fists and feet yelling, ‘I’ll kill you, you stupid bitch!’ This time Nippy didn’t come to Robyn’s rescue, and instead she reached for someone that might fit Cissy, Clive, and the market’s expectations of her. With little experience of men to draw on, she chose badly, and on July 18th, 1992 Nippy married Bobby Brown, the crass, bad-boy lead vocalist of New Edition, who had been courting her since 1989. It was a marriage of convenience - he got her luster to burnish a fading career and she got straighter and blacker in an instant.
Nippy’s first film role, as a singer stalked by a fan in The Bodyguard, confirmed her miraculous straightening. The movie, which was released on November 25th, 1992 went on to become the 7th highest grossing movie of the year, despite the lack of chemistry between Nippy and her bodyguard, Kevin Costner, powered by Nippy’s cover of Dolly’s “I Will Always Love You” and a soundtrack that sold 42 Million units and is the bestselling soundtrack of all time.
The March 4, 1993 birth of their daughter Bobbi Kristina should have sealed the mass-appeal deal, but instead to dull the pain of living a life that was not her own, of loving a woman and yet being married and yes having sex with a man, Nippy turned the bathroom in her mansion into a crack-house, where she smoked away her teeth (resulting in $6,000 dentures she constantly misplaced). She was incontinent and wore a nappy. She was so paranoid she bored a hole in the wall to spy on callers.
So given that Obama has a full set of teeth, doesn’t wear a nappy, and gets the CIA to act on his paranoia, why are they so often mentioned in the same breath? Take these posts on the Fox News comment thread attached to the news story of Whitney Houston’s death as a frightening and incomplete sample:
- I am now patiently waiting for the grand messiah Obama to have a blk fundraiser in honor of Whitley with Kevin Costner as guest of honor with all the Hollywood elites invited along with Alan Colmes, Al Sharpton, Jeremia Wright, Charles Rangel, etc. with a menu featuring blk eyed peas, grits, Imported Kobe steak, Dom Perignon, sweet potato pie and a mus lll im scarf as a momento of this great occasion. Of course the door prize will be an all expense paid trip to Kenya to visit the Obama tribe and birthplace of his ancestors while the American people still look for this imposter’s birth certificate in Hawaii
- How many blk people have died from drugs including alcohol that have been in the sports and the entertainment industry or screwed up their married lives like Tiger Woods or worse, OJ Simpson !!! This is the same disease that got Obama voted into the White House
- Story goes Obama sh0ved to much cr@ck up the wh0res @zz when he was going to sniiff it…
- Woo Hoo One less obama voter
- Bammy should not have given her crack from his personal stash!
- B l a c k s have little to brag about about so they strut and crow about anything. The politically correct whites whine and cringe and try to be b l a c k themselves and identify with their “brothers”. Great singer but as stupid as her pal, the malignancy in the white house
- she still be voting for the head niggg this nov
- To bad it wasnt the monkey in the White House
Nippy and Obama are connected by their genius with words and their ability to communicate and make relevant broad concepts like love, loss, inequality, and hope, but they were accepted in-spite of their race, and only so long as they behave, sing, and make decisions within tightly defined parameters. Straight and approximating to white Nippy was America’s sweetheart, while Obama is acceptable only in his impotence and not as a man.
It would be a pity to lose them both: