Monday, December 06, 2010

Music Video Monday: Whitney Houston

For this week's "music video", I found a clip from my favourite Christmas movie of all time: The Preacher's Wife. When I first saw this movie in a special double feature with 101 Dalmations in 1996, I knew that it would become my annual "must see" Christmas movie. I'm not a fan of most holiday films because they are generally too sentimental for my liking. What I loved about The Preacher's Wife is that it was the rare film that showed African Americans as regular Americans, which was kind of unusual at the time. So many films about African Americans either focused on the fame / celebrity of famous African American performers, or on the ghetto / inner city violence with the usual assortments of pimps, ho's, gangstas, rap stars, hoodlums, etc. The cast of The Preacher's Wife showed a group of lower middle class African Americans with the same values and desires of any white suburban family. It was refreshing. You really don't even notice race because the film lacks stereotypes and how can you not love a film where the only white people in the entire movie is an uptight publicist / assistant and a receptionist who is flattered by Denzel Washington's compliment?

I realize that those who loved the film The Bishop's Wife hold a special reverence for that film and don't like this one, but though The Preacher's Wife is considered a remake, the two films have little in common beyond the basic plotline. My grandmother probably liked The Bishop's Wife better, but I saw The Preacher's Wife first and I was a fan of Whitney Houston (I had a huge crush on her when I was a teenager in the late 1980s). Whitney had wanted to record a gospel album at some point in her career, and this film allowed her to do just that with the soundtrack album (well, a few songs anyway). It was brilliant to make this remake as a modern-day musical.

In the scene clip I have above, Whitney sings a gospel classic in African American churches, "I Love the Lord." I had never heard the song before until I heard it in the film and I instantly fell in love with it. That wasn't surprising, because Whitney had managed to sing the only version of "Jesus Loves Me" that I like (on The Bodyguard soundtrack). The song segues into a rousing rendition of "Joy to the World", which is one of my favourite Christmas carols.

I probably watch this movie four to six times during the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sometimes, I'll have a craving to watch this movie in July, but I always resist the urge because it has become part of my annual Christmas tradition. I miss watching this movie with my mom and sister, though, because we always laugh at the same lines no matter how many times we've seen the film (particularly popular with us are Loretta Devine and Jenifer Lewis' characters, they are such a trip and ladies I wish I knew in real life).

So, I hope you enjoy the clip. If you haven't seen the film before, what are you waiting for? Its a must!!! The only sad thing about watching the film for me is the knowledge that Whitney destroyed her incredible talent (acting, as well as singing) when she married a jealous bad boy with a drug addiction he was happy to pass on to his wife. Her several attempts at a comeback (I believe there were three of them: 1998, 2003, and 2009) have all failed miserably. Not sure if that day of redemption will ever arrive for her, thus The Preacher's Wife still remains as her last career high. Its been a long, dark descent ever since.

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