Danielle Smith, MTV, Whitney Houston discussed on It's Been A Minute


So like I said Danielle Smith former vibe editor in chief and host of the show black girl songbook She joined me to talk about all of this Danielle also wrote the definitive oral history of Whitney's performance for ESPN So there was no better person to help me make sense of why 30 years later this moment of black history still says so much about race and patriotism and a whole lot more A Whitney Houston is she is operating in this really rarefied air In 91 You know her and Michael Jackson were really the first true pop black crossover stars of the MTV era And she had been fighting through this kind of shiny perfect image of pop stardom to be taken as seriously and have the same ubiquity as white pop stars And so to see her in this moment of intense patriotism singing the national anthem that is perhaps the ultimate crossover for a black woman like her huh Yes and I always think I agree with everything you say there And I also do think that crossover is a term that we all use without really saying exactly what it means Say it It means to cross over but no one says cross over from what to what right Back then it meant because radio stations were segregated at that time And black stations played black music and pop slash white stations played white music One had to cross over from blackness to whiteness to have the kind of opportunities for success money ticket sales radio sales all of those things that tie in to be in a global superstar to have those kind of opportunities I always say that Whitney Houston didn't spend her career fighting for pop success She used her career She was fighting for a pop equality It's different Yeah It wasn't fair frankly The fact that MTV had to be pretty much forced into playing Michael Jackson's videos Literally other labels had to threaten to withhold their white pop stars from MTV so that MTV would play Michael Jackson's videos and Whitney found herself in a very similar position So yes to see her there after 7 consecutive number one pop hits It was and I always say I didn't see it in real time Did not see them I was at work I was working retail at the time in San Francisco and they were like it's Super Bowl Sunday Do you want to come in And I was like does it pay time and a half Because if it does I'm on the train So but to see her it was everywhere They replayed it over and over and over and over again It was on the radio almost immediately after she sang it because radio DJs literally taped it from the television broadcast and started playing So then Arista records actually put it out as a single in a single one platinum This is the power of when you used it Yeah I want to talk more about what makes that musical performance different and perhaps better than all the others But first I want to talk about just the imagery of Whitney that night You know she is in the stadium there's an entire orchestra.

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