Makes No Difference Who You Are, Believe
Haven’t been to sleep yet. So much on my mind right now. Mostly memories. A high school friend in the music industry crossed my heart when I was bookmarking the page for the online telecast of Whitney Houston’s funeral service.
Her name is Val (Valerie Pinkston). Wonderful memories of her flooded my mind early this morning. I almost forgot that she sang as one of Whitney Houston’s background singers for many years (and with Diana Ross, too). My heart begin to ache for her. I’d neglected to reach-out to Val and extend words of comfort or say something to let her know I care, that I remember and well . . . thank you for the memories. I can only imagine what she may be feeling as I look at some of Val’s recent pictures she’d taken with Whitney Houston on tour. Tomorrow is not promised but thank God we have a sure promise in Him.
At Denby high school, Val played piano, sang and arranged. She went on to replace Anita Baker in Chapter 8. Then she toured with Luther Van Dross, Whitney Houston and Diana Ross . . . – Val’s music career was in full swing after high school. And, I am certain, I have only skimmed the surface of A-list talented singers and musicians she has worked with as she was making her passion her work and her work her passion.
So, here’s to VMCJ=Valerie, Michelle, Cheryl (me) and Jerry. – Cheers! As we stood behind the close auditorium curtain w/ Val playing the intro of our opening numbers, I can still hear the 300/400 Denby high school students (and teachers, lol) screaming as we started singing the medley Val arranged. And, just to get them on their feet, she’d have us kick-it off w/a few bars of Bah da ba ba ba ba ba. Bah da ba ba ba from the elements – Earth, Wind and Fire – Brazilian Rhyme (1977).
Note: The audio is good but it is not a video, sorry.
Thank you Val for staying true to your dream. You influenced me. I learned how to have fun expressing myself through music. I found a part of me, too. There were messages in the music you selected for us to sing.
The music you had us perform was meaningful. Like – “You Are My Friend.” (Sylvester and Two Tons of Fun and later recorded by Pattie Labelle which I featured below). You are my friend, I never knew until the end, my friend . . I’ve been looking around and you were here all the time.
Val sang and played “You Are My Friend” with such passion. Michelle, Jerry and I were on background vocals. I was no stranger to passionate music but I sang about Jesus Christ. I didn’t know that secular music (as it was called) could be meaningful and positive.
You see, I was always a Church girl and fancied myself a young community activist looking to shine the light on injustice. I remember thinking, “where is this girl getting all this passion/soul from to PLAY AND SANG like this! She must be SAVED. I must get her to come to Church with me, lol.” I was always recruiting for our youth choir that I directed called the “Heavenly Voices.” I recruited 1/2 the school choir to my Church choir, lol. Jerry finally joined the Church and remains at my birth Church (Church of the Living God #69) to this day as director of music. I left in 2002 to visit and later become a member of Perfecting Church, Bishop Marvin L. Winans, Pastor.
Well, I begin to listen to the words and the harmonies of the music Val selected for us to perform. I was moved. I was inspired to make a change. With music like EWF in my ears and heart, the music began to be a call of action for me to do my part to make a difference and well, change the world, lol. It still does to this day and music like this also inspires my 18 year old daughter, too.
Because of my rich music xperience at Denby(marching, concert and stage band, choir and ensemble) and with the positive impact of other remarkable students like Jerry, Val and Michelle, my life is richer and I am able to xperience deep emotions through the music during our time.
Most ppl do not know I played 2nd chair flute for 8 years in concert and marching band and studied and played classical pipe organ at Fisk University (Nashville, TN) for 2 years before I switch my major to education. I wanted to teach urban children classical African music.
For me, music is the spice of life!
My prayers and thoughts are with you today Val, as you eulogize your friend and colleague, Whitney Houston. In my opinion, Whitney’s living was not in vain, for she used her God-given gift of music to refresh and inspire the world. May the spirit of God abide with you and give you peace, my dear.
And, here is a little something from David Benoit’s “Moments” w/ Valerie Pinkston on vocals. You can hear from her level of vocal skill, why Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and Luther Vandross selected Val to accompany them as an accomplished background singer.
Peace & Love, Always -“Bah da ba ba ba ba ba. Bah da ba ba ba”