Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Whitney Houston And "The Greatest Love Of All"

Christal Cooper – 601 Words

Whitney Houston and
The Greatest Love Of All

I like to compare Whitney Houston’s The Greatest Love Of All to Frank Sinatra’s song My Way:  not a derogatory statement or disbelief statement of Jesus Christ; but rather a statement to humanity that regardless what humanity dictates he or she to believe in he or she will still follow his or her own convictions. 

It is April or May of 1986 in Warner Robins, Georgia.  I am in the tenth grade and am a guest at Mrs. Cole’s house.  Mrs. Cole writes a column for the local newspaper, The Daily Sun, is a poet and a Christian.  I am jumping on the trampoline with the neighborhood little girl in Mrs. Cole’s front yard. The radio is on and I hear Whitney Houston’s The Greatest Love Of All for the very first time.

Now I am at my Christian friend TaWanna’s house.  We talk about The Greatest Love Of All and she states that, in her opinion, it is the best gospel song there is.  
I’m not sure, even today, if I agree or disagree with her.  The Greatest Love Of All lyrics were written by Linda Creed Epstein, a Jewish woman from Pennsylvania who lost her battle to breast cancer in April of 1986 at the age of 37, after fighting the disease for ten years.  Creed wrote the lyrics in 1976, two weeks after her mastectomy.

The song was originally recorded by George Benson in the 1977 biographical drama on Muhammad Ali titled The Greatest. 

The song would not know universal acclaim until Whitney Houston sang those powerful lyrics.  The song was released in April of 1986, becoming number one in May of 1986, weeks after Linda Creed Epstein’s death.        

A reporter described it best with the below words:  “The words describe Creed’s feelings about coping with great challenges that one must face in life, being strong during those challenges whether you succeed or fail, and passing that strength on to children to carry with them into their adult lives.”

Strange it may seem that I a Christian would describe a Jewish song as being evangelical; but not so strange when even the Old Testament scriptures are utilized to describe Jesus’s existence and identity.

         I don’t think it was an accident that Whitney Houston, a self-proclaimed born-again Christian, ended up being the ambassador and singer for this song. She inherited her voice from a family of deep Christian roots and gospel singers, making the song her own.

Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote:  Whitney Houston sings The Greatest Love Of All with a forceful directness that gives its message of self-worth an astounding resonance and conviction.  The Greatest Love Of All is a compelling assertion of spiritual devotion, black pride, and family loyalty all at once.”

Don Shewey of Rolling Stone expounded further describing her voice as the driving force behind the song:  “Houston’s voice slowly pours on the soul, slips in some churchy phrasing, holds notes a little longer and shows off her glorious voice.”

My understanding of The Greatest Love Of All and its significance leads me to the one conclusion that Jesus is the author of love.  He requires us to “love our neighbor and our enemies as ourselves”, using the “our selves” as the benchmark or tool on how to love others, ourselves, and most importunity the Trinity God. 

Photograph Description and Copyright Info

Photo 1
Jacket cover of The Greatest Love Of All single.  

Photo 2
Jacket cover of Frank Sinatra’s My Way album

Photo 3
Christal Rice Cooper in 1986.  Copyright by Christal Rice Cooper.

Photo 4
Linda Creed Epstein in her late 20s.  Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law.

Photo 5
George Benson performing in Madrid in 2009.  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Photo 6
DVD cover of Muhammad Ali The Greatest. 

Photo 7
Whitney Houston’s Album featuring The Greatest Love Of All.  Released in February of 1985.

Photo 8
Music notes to The Greatest Love Of All

Photo 9
Jacket cover of the Sweet Inspiration’s 1968 gospel album Songs of Faith And Inspiration by Atlantic Records.  The Sweet Inspirations was founded by Cissy Drinkard Houston in 1967.

Photo 10
Jacket cover of Cissy Houston’s 1997 Album He Leading Me by A & M Records.

Photo 11
November 1996 jacket cover of The Preacher’s Wife by Arista Records.

Photo 12
Whitney Houston’s home church New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey.  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Photo 13.

The oldest survival panel of the icon of Christ is the 6th century encaustic icon from Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Mount Sinai.  Public Domain.

1 comment:

  1. After reading your explanation, I have the desire to hear carefully the lyrics of this song. I agree with you most of the time. I understand this lyrics are talking mainly about the love to oneself is the most important, if we do not respect and love the way we are, it is time to be better and recover our dignity. The problem is that many people do not realize the way they are. Anyway, it is a lovely song, amazing interpretation and very inspirational.