Did Whitney Sound “Black” Enough?


Many years ago, I auditioned for a cable show that was going to feature pop commentators debating current entertainment-biz issues.

The topic for my audition was the emergence of Whitney Houston as a hot new singing star.

My debater was in a real huff, fuming about the way her music was produced and arguing that “she doesn’t sound black enough!”

I was taken aback.

Something about that didn’t sound quite correct.

I muttered a few words in response, but on reflection, what I should have said was:

“There’s no one way to ‘sound black.’ Black people can sound all different ways!

“But maybe you mean that Whitney’s not as gospel-y or as ‘real’ sounding as you would like, considering her roots.

“It’s true that her sound has been somewhat watered down in order to make massive pop hits, but the truth is she still sounds like herself since she applies her style to the songs, and she definitely still sounds black because she is black!”


By the way, the show never happened — thank God!!

(Yes, I’m praising the Lord.)