I mentioned this story in my RIP message to Whitney Houston on Facebook this morning, and it’s been requested that I expound a bit and tell the whole thing. So here it is: the story of the most infamous, recorded Kontis Sister fight of all time.
Once upon a time when there was no call waiting, only five television stations, and no way to record a show (we called it “The 80s”), one of the most wonderful gifts a child could receive was a cassette player. Even better: a RED one that could play the radio and had DUAL CASSETTE RECORDERS so that one could make one’s very own mixed tapes! Soteria and I received matching cherry red boomboxes one Christmas. That was a good Christmas.
I was a child born to podcast. Some children don’t like the sound of their own voice, but never me. I used to lock myself up in the bathroom and record inspirational messages, urging people to love one another. When I got older, I recorded myself singing. Who didn’t? And on the rare occasion, when we weren’t choreographing dance routines to “Lean on Me” or “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” Soteria and I would sing together.
I don’t remember what prompted us to record a duet of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All,” except that it was one of those songs every little girl loved because she could belt it out at the top of her lungs like “Tomorrow” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It would have been 1986 or so, which would have made me 10 and Soteria about 8.
The tape recording–which I do hope isn’t lost forever, but I only have a few cassettes left, and little time to sift through them all–started with the two of us singing the song together, pouring every bit of our young hearts and souls into the words…and then Soteria screwed up the lyrics. Being the perfectionist that I was, I argued with Soteria about this. Being the little sister that she was, she argued back. Then followed a resounding SLAP on the recording, and my footsteps as I petulantly stormed out of the room.
There was silence on the tape, and Soteria’s soft sobbing. Then she took a breath and, in wavering, tear-filled tones, finished the song in a solo. “The graaaay-tee-est love of all,” she sang, “is happening to me. I’ve found the graaaaay-tee-est love of all”–sniff–“inside of me.”
Ah, the Kontis Sisters, for whom the term “melodramatic” was never quite enough.
I maintain, if we’d had YouTube back then, we’d be stars right now. Then again, I suppose we still could be…