I believe the children of the future,
Teach them well and let them lead the way,
Show all the beauty they possess inside,
Give them a sense of pride–to make it easier,
Let the children’s laughter,
Remind us how we used to be.
Everybody’s searching for a hero;
People need someone to look up to,
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs;
A lonely place to be–and so I learned to depend on me.
To hear this song, click the link below:
Music by Michael Musser Recorded by Whitney Houston and Arista Records
The impact of these words touched the heart of a five-year-old child and inspired her to become the successful woman she is today. Her name . . . Andrea Walton. Words of love, respect and admiration were spoken about Andrea even before I met her, so I was not surprised to find an attractive, confident and poised young woman bearing that name. How did she become that woman? Many paths led to her reaching that achievement, but this interview will shed some light on the paths she chose and the highways she traveled.
At the age of three, Andrea became very interested in Whitney Houston–the year–1985. This article walks you through an interview with Andrea some 27 years later. Discover how she recalls her 10-year experience as a fan of Houston with interviewer Mamie Smith.
Mamie: At three-years-old Andrea, what were your thoughts about Whitney Houston?
Andrea: My first memory in seeing her is in the “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” video. From that point on, I became very interested in her. I thought she was so-o-o beautiful–a beautiful black young woman! I think my impression of her was her beauty, her presence, her face and her voice.
Click here for the “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” video:
Mamie: How did your Mom fit in with you and Whitney at this age?
Andrea: I wanted everything Whitney Houston! So my Mom had to go out and buy tapes, record videos, play them for me–I wanted to listen to everything–to be like her, model like her! As I grew older, I patterned myself after her–her clothes, her style and the way she carried herself. I guess I was over-whelmed by her! Seeing this, my Mom became interested and was also instrumental in my becoming a fan. I was only three or four, so I couldn’t sign myself up as a fan–I depended on my Mom for practically everything!
Mamie: Sort of like you wanted it, and Mom did it! Mom, you have a three-year-kid overwhelmed by a woman called Whitney? Did you think “This is her stuff, not mine” or did you really want to get involved?
Mom: I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Actually, Andrea was a very quiet child–really not interested in what most of the other children (her age) were interested in, so at that point, it was pretty much whatever she wanted to do, her dad and I supported her in it. She was always a daddy’s girl and still is, so he gave her what she wanted. We placed her in the best schools, dance classes, basically, gave her all of the best opportunities we could. I fell in line with that (kind of thinking). I wanted be supportive of what she wanted and not what I wanted.
Mamie: Andrea, knowing that you had Mom and Dad’s support from every aspect in achieving your goals, what was the first thing that you collected–the thing that made you say, “I gotta have this, because to me, it represents Whitney Houston.”
Andrea: Actually, it was a record! It had Whitney Houston’s picture on it. Her hair was sort of “up” and she has on a white tank top! I loved her hair, her face and her beauty!
Mamie: Andrea, you have this coveted record for admiration, Mom and Dad helping you get your favorite Whitney collectibles, but what did you do by yourself?
Andrea: I started looking at magazines, looking at pictures, collecting them for a collage, and I believe I started posting them on my walls. (Mom interjects with a “Yes”). I placed the pictures on construction paper with Whitney’s favorite color purple. At that point, I was very much a fan and wanted to learn what Whitney Houston liked–what she ate, her favorite food, colors . . . that type of fan.
Mom: Yes, she had the walls full of Whitney Houston pictures . . . .
Andrea: I want to interject, my becoming a fan made everyone around me become a fan.
Mamie: Mom, what made you become a fan of Houston?
Mom: Looking back, this woman had a phenomenal talent! I always liked good singing, so a young person who had a voice like that . . . (voice trails off). I learned to like her for myself, and not just for Andrea.
Mamie: As Andrea approaches four years of age, what special thing happened in her life?
Mom: She wanted to have a Whitney Houston Birthday Party! (Andrea exclaims) “Keep in mind I had had a Micheal Jackson Birthday Party!
Mom: Yea, she did. Now, it was Whitney Houston!
Mamie: What did you do on this fourth birthday? How did you prepare for it Andrea?
Andrea: All of the specials we had taped, the videos, the interviews–everything I had collected had to be ready. I got the leather jacket like hers, the t-shirt, my white and silver blazer–everything had to be just right!
Mom: At one point during the party, she had me to have all the kids leave and go home because they would not stop talking when Whitney sang.
Andrea: That was the point of the party–for everyone to watch and listen, so if they didn’t want to do that, why continue the party?
Mamie: If you were to highlight the greatest experience in your life as a fan of Whitney, what would you say that was?
The Day I Met Whitney
Mom: Well, there was going to be a CeCe Hair & Nail Salon Fundraiser for the Elizabeth K. Davenport Shelter for Girls and we wanted to go and support it . . . we found out that Whitney was going to be a special guest for the Winans and my sister Val wanted to take Andrea. The tickets were kind of expensive! I said, “No! I’m not taking her! No!”
Well, her Aunt Val got a ticket for Andrea and . . . bought her a new outfit–a silver fox jacket! I will never forget that! I didn’t even have a fox jacket. I got permission from Andrea’s teachers for her to go–even her teachers knew that she was a Whitney Houston fan. It was at the Hyatt Regency–my husband took us in a limousine.
Andrea: I don’t remember much of that!
Mom: When we got to the party, we found that most of the people there were adults–you know–high profile people. They looked at Andrea as if to say, “Who’s this little girl?” We had been told that we were getting a table close to Whitney. Looking across the room we see a table on a riser. Of course that was Houston’s table. We’re sitting at a table with people who knew her–family people. They were talking about Whitney . . . and a couple of times Andrea corrected them on some of the things they were saying. They looked at her like–”How’d she know?” After a while, Whitney walked in!!!!!!!!! Whitney was very tall and Andrea was just in awe of her! All she did was stare at her. Whitney sat down and dinner was about to be served. She looked at our table and saw Andrea constantly staring at her. Every time she looked, Andrea was still staring. I guess she felt she had to do something about it.
Andrea: I don’t remember anything about that moment–but just . . . seeing Whitney Houston!
Mom: A bodyguard came over and said, “Who does this pretty little girl belong to? Miss Houston would like the young lady to join her for dinner.” Andrea jumped up, grabbed me and “went on over!” This was out of character for Andrea who is usually quiet and reserved. I didn’t get a chance to say anything! We were there–at the table! I was very impressed with Whitney. She asked people sitting at her table to move so we could sit down–requested a plate for Andrea. The people were mad! I thought “Wow!” She did not know who Andrea was–only that she was the little girl who kept staring at her.
Mamie: Andrea, what were you thinking when you saw her?
Andrea: I thought here’s the greatest love of all! (Laughter).
Mamie: Do you recall anything she said to you?
Andrea: I remember her saying what a pretty little girl I was. She said she liked my dress–asked me my name. She touched my face in a caring sort of way and kept saying, “You’re so beautiful!” I told her how much I liked her music and that I was a part of her fan club. That’s about all I remember. Basically, what sticks out in my memory is her being so warm, kind and . . . catering to me.
Mom: During the show, they brought Andrea back to us and invited us to the VIP reception.
Mamie: What about an autograph? Here you guys are . . . with Whitney . . . is Andrea getting Houston’s autograph?
Mom: At the VIP reception is where we got it. When Whitney got to the reception, she took Andrea by the hand and led her behind a long table that had been set up. We asked for her autograph, but we didn’t have anything (to write on), so, Val gave her one of her business cards. We did not know we were going to meet Whitney, that’s why we didn’t have anything to write on.
Mamie: Val, Mom said you looked like you were mad as you sat watching the whole Whitney scene with Andrea. Were you mad, and if so, why?
Val: I never wanted anyone to come between Andrea and me. When Whitney was there, it was like I wasn’t there nor her Mom. With Whitney’s personality, Andrea and she had some sort of a bond at the dinner. It was like we didn’t exist. Then, inviting us to the table . . . I had no idea they were paying us that much attention.
Mom: They weren’t! They were paying Andrea attention!
Andrea: Someone put a fur coat on Whitney and she ran out into the snow, one thing I thought was . . . “Hm-m-m, Whitney wears fur coats like my aunt!”
Mamie: Obviously, this was a moment of a lifetime! Andrea, if you had to sum up your childhood as a fan of Whitney Houston from three to ten-years-old in one or two sentences, how would you say you pictured her as an individual?
Andrea: One word–inspiration. She inspired me to become the person I am today–one who seeks to follow paths in life that develop confidence, poise, self assurance and empathy for others.
Mamie: Mom, what would you say?
Mom: Costly! Because Andrea was so taken with her, wanted to know everything about her, be like her and represent her–it was very costly. Even so, I would not change what we did. It all turned out just fine.
Mamie: Even though it was costly, I am sure in retrospect, you now know it was well worth it!
The purpose of this interview was to show a softer side of Whitney Houston–a view that is sometimes clouded by gossip, judgment and destructive criticism. Every person’s life is like a flower–a flower that blooms and seeks to survive during moments of sunshine, as well as storms. Houston’s life was no exception, but as we pick up the petals of her life from the grounds of human activity, let us remember the numerous bouquets that graced our tables by her remarkable contributions to the world of music. Our lives are richer . . . because she shared hers . . . with us.
WE WILL “ALWAYS LOVE YOU!”
Click here to hear that astounding voice once more!
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To see a video on Andrea’s day with Whitney, click here:
Written by Dr. Mamie Smith