When I found Judy Garland, I found two women. There were two Judy’s: the one who made movies and the one who sang. Now I know that Judy sang in practically every movie she made and it was clear she had a fabulous voice. But there was also the other Judy and I discovered that other woman one day when I was going through my parent’s albums and I came across a two record set (that was pretty unusual at this time) called Judy at Carnegie Hall. This album introduced me to Judy the performer, the singer and the entertainer. I used to wait until I was alone in the house, and I would crank up the volume and sing with Judy and then wait for the adoring rush of applause from the Carnegie Hall audience.

When I went away to college, I took that album with me. I never asked for it, I just took it…a very rebellious act for someone like me. I could not imagine my life without this concert. The album was based on one concert in 1961 and I didn’t start playing it until the early 1970’s. Even when one of the records got damaged, a piece got broken off, I would still play the record and just start the needle later on the disc.

I have seen all of her movies and some of them, multiple times. She was beautiful, vulnerable and funny. In the Carnegie concert, which has always been considered one of the best in music history, she is astounding in her range and at times, her simplicity. I now have this concert on cd and it really does still hold up. It is pure Judy.

I did not discover Judy Garland until after she died. She died in 1969 at the age of 47. I was not familiar with all of her movies or her tremendous vocal talent, until she was gone.

I write this as the news of Whitney Houston’s death is shocking the world. I looked at her videos today, I heard her songs and I remembered. I remember her fame and success. I remember driving with the radio on and not being able to escape Whitney Houston—if I wanted to. She was everywhere. She was perfect for music videos. She was so beautiful and wore fabulous clothes. She had so much energy and seemed to love singing. She had a power in her voice that we had not heard before. She had a talent that the biggest cynic in the world could not deny. I thought she was wonderful and a one in a million performer. And she is gone at the age of 48.

Yesterday we introduced our children to Whitney. We showed them her videos, they saw her sing the national anthem, they saw the evening news and they heard us tell stories about this famous singer. That is basically all we can do, is remember her for what she gave us. And she gave us great entertainment.

I am tremendously sad with her passing. I wish she was going to be around for a lot longer. More than anything else, I wanted her to be happy and healthy. Even if she never sang again, I wanted her to be okay. But my wishes were not enough. I will play her music and I will remember her bright smile and talent. And I will be grateful that she was in our lives for a brief time, just like Judy was. I can only see them now as gifts that we were given, and fortunately, we  can continue to enjoy them. And I would guess that neither Judy or Whitney would want us to stop listening.

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  • Aledys Ver  On February 15, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Beautiful post, Jane. It was just so sad to hear of Whitney’s passing. And at such a young age, too, when there was so much she could’ve still done with her huge talent.

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