On Saturday, Oct. 8, I had the pleasure of attending the 2011 Teen Summit in Shelby, N.C. The Teen Summit is an annual event founded by Pat Houston with the purpose of helping “rebuild, restore and repair” the youth. I attended the powerful and much needed summit last year, but this year there was a special guest, the iconic and legendary Whitney Houston.
I had the opportunity to interview Houston briefly regarding her parenting style and the importance of being and having a mentor. I work in radio and was prepared to record the audio, but Houston and her team were uneasy about it and understandably so. Instead, I suggested doing it old-school with a paper and pen and all systems were a go.
On how proud she is of sister-in-law Pat Houston for the wonderful work she is doing for the teens:
“My brother was smart for choosing her. I know her as a woman of God, a mother, sister, a wife.” Whitney also went on to explain how she had an instant connection with Pat and expressed how much she loves her and supports her in all of her endeavors.
On encouraging the youth if they go astray:
“I believe that young people will make mistakes and when they do, don’t turn them away. We don’t want them to go to others because you don’t know what they might get from someone else.”
On proactively parenting:
“Keep an open eye. Let them know they can always come home. Keep telling them about the dangers. Love can cover a multitude of sins.”
When asked about those who may not have anyone to look up to:
“The FATHER I know didn’t leave me and will send you a mentor.”
She also went on to say that you are never too old to have a mentor and that if you need one, God will send one in your direction. She also elaborated that Kim Burrell was a God-sent mentor to her.
I told Houston that I see certain traits in Bobbi Kris that I also see in her including her zest for life, no nonsense attitude and spiritual nature. She smiled in agreement and insisted that she made sure to instill in her daughter “compassion, church, faith and hope.”
Houston also discussed adopting a son, Nicholas, over five years ago and the struggles of single parenthood. She also stressed the importance of parents being parents to their kids and not just their friend. She believes that you must set firm boundaries and enforce them.
That was all the time that we had. It was short and sweet, but I do not think this is the last I have seen of Houston. We will meet again. What a privilege to have met and interviewed someone I hold in such high regard. It was one of the crowning achievements in my life.
Interview wrap up and overall thoughts of Whitney Houston:
I have to say that Houston was very gracious, polite, humble and down to earth. She didn’t need a big fuss to be made about her. Her demeanor was quiet and unassuming, but her presence was strongly felt. She is very beautiful and her spirit is uplifting to be around. Anyone who is a fan of Whitney Houston knows that she is not a fan of interviews, but for her to say to me, “I don’t want to disappoint you,” while figuring out another way to conduct the interview instead of rejecting me altogether was very thoughtful.
– Other Whitney tidbits–
- I told her that her fans are loyal and love and pray for her. I also told her to never feel like people don’t care; she then looked at me, smiled and said, “Oh, I don’t feel that way at all, I know.”
- She is working on Sparkle, a movie loosely based on the story of the Supremes. She left the set in Detroit to come and had to return later that day.
Watch the video of Pat and Whitney Houston presenting Kim Burrell with the Ambassadors Award for her continued work with the Teen Summit.
Special thanks to Nippy Inc., Lynne, Ulysses and Pat Houston
Check back for Part Two of the Teen Summit wrap up, which will summarize the event as a whole and also feature an exclusive interview with Quinton Aaron of The Blind Side.