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Whitney: At the Top

September 04, 1993

I want to point out a few things to Robert Hilburn regarding "Whitney: In Voice but Over the Top!!" (Aug. 24): His reviews of concerts and records often give me the impression that he has very limited musical tastes, ranging from '70s rock to a feigned appreciation for anything cutting edge (i.e., rap, hip-hop).

Hilburn does seem to concede that Houston has "the greatest voice in pop," but he doesn't want to give her her due as a great singer. "A great singer must have intimacy, phrasing and a respect for the melody and lyric," he states, later adding that Houston falls short, relying on "histrionics."

A great singer must also have passion and be able to convey vocally what the song means at any moment (which changes), which may or may not coincide with how Hilburn feels it should be sung.

Houston's style is to take a song through a spectrum of emotions and, yes, often climaxing in a thunder of emotion. Her "overkill," as Hilburn calls it, was more than appropriate, and this fan, who is also a singer and who appreciates different styles, loved it.

I have watched and listened to Houston perform countless times, and she feels every note she sings. The fact that she never sings a song the same way is testament to that. Houston is a singer, first and foremost. Quibbling about whether she's a great entertainer is another matter, and Houston doesn't necessarily shine in that area. If it's audience repartee, raw physical energy or slick dance moves you want, call Diana Ross, Tina Turner or Janet Jackson, but, for pure singing, Houston has it all.

TYRONE VAN HOESEN

Los Angeles

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