I can't say that much about her music since I only own one of her albums, Whitney. Still, what a breath of fresh air it is, all of the hit songs blending a deeply insecure view of herself with an intense yearning for intimacy, which keeps her from just feeling sorry for herself and impels her to do something about it. Here's one of everyone's favorite sunshine-wrapped-around-your-shoulders kind of songs:
It's like a voice from another world, now that pop singers have become so self-aggrandizing and dismissive of needing to connect with others. Tellingly, the most boastful have nothing to boast about, whereas a real talent like Whitney Houston seemed if anything to need frequent validation of her worthiness.
That somewhat insecure self-image combined with her desire to reach out to others made her a naturally great performer, even if at the cost of leading a rollercoaster lifestyle and having a bipolar persona. Hey, among those who aren't going to develop into completely mentally healthy adults, I'd rather hang out with someone who's bipolar rather than non-polar or anti-polar, the repulsive types that we seem to be breeding so many of lately.
During the trainwreck part of her career, at least she tried to keep it semi-private. Her husband started his own reality show, but at least as far as I remember, she didn't try to flaunt her celebrity fuck-up lifestyle, nor did she write one of those lame "I love haters" songs in response.
A more heartwarming way that she kept it old school was by not pandering to nancyboys, attention whores, or wannabe hardasses, which is where most dance and R&B music has gone. That had to have taken guts after watching Madonna and Kylie Minogue re-brand themselves that way, not to mention newcomers like Fergie and Lady Gaga, who hit the skankified ground running.
I don't know much about what her charity did, but it sounds like your average needy children's foundation, as in sick, poor, from broken homes... you know, needy. Not a sob story charity for the children of illegal immigrants, gay teens who get taunted for talking in a sissy voice, etc.
In a world where most celebrities pride themselves on wanting to wreck the culture, the death of the somewhat traditional-minded Whitney Houston is a real loss.