Whitney Houston — known mostly for being one of the top-selling female vocalists of all time, and later in life, tragically for her bouts with substance abuse — was found dead in the bathtub of her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Saturday, Feb. 11. She was 48.
There’s been a cascade of grief and condolences for Houston, her estranged ex-husband Bobby Brown and the couple’s 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina; and the outpouring continued from the many local musical luminaries who knew and worked with the chart-topping diva.
“Whitney Houston was an unbelievable talent and one of the greatest voices of all time. Her passing is a tremendous shock and a terrible shame,” said Sound of Philadelphia creators Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff in a joint statement. “She had a rough life and was under so much pressure as an artist, because she meant so much to the music community. She was one of the most admired singers ever, who was loved by everybody.”
Houston, still trying to fully break into the industry in 1984, recorded the Teddy Pendergrass-duet “Hold Me,” which appeared on Pendergrass’ 1984 album, “Love Language,” the first studio album after the car accident which left him paralyzed.
But it’s that constant grind — the non-stop touring and the incessant requests made of a superstar — that may have contributed to Houston’s downfall. The double-edged sword of fame and celebrity has, in one way or the other, destroyed the lives of a number of celebrities.
“We are all still in shock. She was an amazing talent and a true songbird,” said Kathy Sledge, one of the members of the four-sister group Sister Sledge. “I met her a few times, and the first words that come to mind are spunky, fun and high-spirited. She was everything everyone saw her to be.
“But it’s hard to be an entertainer,” Sledge continued. “It’s a very lonely place. We know what comes with it. I hope this puts in perspective that Whitney is one of those artists you will never see on this planet again.”
Sledge said her and Houston met a few times and nearly became labelmates, but at the last minute, Sledge went with Epic Records while Houston signed with Clive Davis.
“You always want to get inside their head, and I can’t speak for Whitney but I can speak for artists, and I feel like, if anything, give love to her family and lift her up mightily, because that’s what we would want for ourselves,” Sledge said. “I think there will never be another Whitney, another Michael Jackson, another Teena Marie, so I hope fans grasp that they are people, and love them while they are here — embrace them.”
Houston had several connections with Philly music, and many local legends shared their interactions with the multi-platinum singer. As a member of renowned Philadelphia International Records studio band M.F.S.B., legendary drummer Earl Young had the opportunity to accompany Houston during “The Linda Creed Memorial Scholarship Fund Concert,” held at the Civic Center on May 10, 1987.
“She didn’t bring a band, so they hired us to play for the whole show, which was her, George Benson and The Stylistics,” Young said. “She had a keyboard player, and she sang ‘The Greatest Love of All.’ Quite naturally, I was a little nervous because it was the first time I had played for somebody that big since the Uptown [Theater] days, and I wanted to get it right. By me not being the greatest [music] reader in the world, I had to try to make sure everything was perfect, and ‘The Greatest’ is one of those songs that doesn’t really have a tempo — it’s all conducted, and it came out good.
“She was so little and young with such a big voice, that it really kind of blew me away,” Young continued. “I think I spent more time listening to her than I did actually playing. To me, it was an honor to play for somebody as big as her, and when we did sound check, she thanked everybody.”
Others spoke of Houston’s ability to carry a whole musical genre and thank her for contributions likely to go unduplicated.
“We love Whitney Houston so much for sharing her special gift with the world. Whitney took the torch from R&B pioneers before her and carried it to unimaginable heights,” said Rhythm and Blues Foundation chairman Damon Williams. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to all of Whitney’s family members. We are thankful for the many years of support from Whitney’s mom, Cissy Houston, and cousins Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick, who are all recipients of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award.”
While Houston is probably best known for her stunning vocals, she also made inroads as a hit actress, starting on the small screen with a role in 1984 sitcom “Gimme A Break!” before landing her debut silver screen role as Rachel Marron in the 1992 hit, “The Bodyguard,” in which Houston also contributed to the multi-platinum soundtrack. From there, Houston starred in “Waiting To Exhale,” “The Preacher’s Wife” and “Cinderella.” Production just wrapped on the “Sparkle” remake, in which Houston reprises the role of Emma. “Sparkle” is due in theaters later this year.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic and untimely passing of Whitney Houston, whom we were blessed to have just completed work with on the remake of the film ‘Sparkle,’ said producer Bishop T.D. Jakes. “We ask the world to join us in lifting up Whitney’s family in prayer and ask God for their strength and comfort during this devastatingly difficult time.
“At the apex of her career, Whitney had no peer, with a voice that shaped a generation,” continued Jakes. “She has left behind a musical legacy that will endure. She will be sorely missed by us all.”
Lifetime will celebrate the legacy of six-time Grammy winner Whitney Houston with "Remembering Whitney," airing Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 9 p.m. The one-hour special will feature "never-before-seen footage" of Whitney including interviews with the pop music icon, private home videos and family photos, as well as candid insights from family members, daughter Bobbi Kristina (Krissy) Brown, sister-in-law and manager Pat Houston, brother Gary Houston and mother Cissy Houston, a former Grammy Award-winning singer.
On Feb. 11, on the eve of the Grammy Awards, Houston, 48, was found dead in her hotel room at the Beverly Hills Hilton. The cause of death was determined to be accidental drowning, but heart disease and cocaine use were contributing factors, according to coroner's officials.
On Oct. 24 at 9 p.m., in the aftermath of her untimely passing, Lifetime will premiere the all-new "docuseries" "The Houstons: On Our Own," airing back-to-back episodes.
According to the network, the series will "chronicle those closest to the pop music icon," including Bobbi Kristina; Pat; Pat's daughter Rayah; Gary; Cissy and "family friend" Nick Gordon, as they try and pick up the pieces after her shocking death.
Throughout the 14 episodes half-hour series, viewers will see the Houston family as they come together to deal with the loss of Whitney and focus on Krissy, the 19 year-old daughter of Bobby Brown and Whitney, and the heir to her mother's estate.
"The Houstons: On Our Own" will follow Pat, Krissy's aunt, guardian, manager and executor of Whitney's estate, as she tries her best to keep the large family together, help Krissy deal with the loss of her mother in a healthy way, and "grow into a talented and beautiful young woman."
NEW YORK — Bobby Brown says it took him a long time to come out with a new album because he's spent so much time trying to get his life on track.
Now on tour with bandmates New Edition, Brown says he's ready to return to his solo career with the album "Masterpiece," due out June 5.
"It's what I've been through throughout my life, and just trying to heal myself through my music," the 43-year-old singer said in a recent interview.
"Masterpiece" is Brown's first album in 14 years. He was a multiplatinum star with New Edition and later developed his solo career. But his well-documented battle with drugs and his legal woes led to his musical decline. His turbulent marriage to Whitney Houston further eroded his image.
In a recent interview with the "Today" show's Matt Lauer, Brown denied that he got his late ex-wife addicted to drugs. Houston's career was derailed by her drug use, which came to the public's attention during her marriage to Brown. The superstar drowned in February in Beverly Hills, California; her death was complicated by heart disease and cocaine use, according to authorities.
"The Matt Lauer interview was just for me to clear the air about what everyone was feeling about my ex-wife's death," Brown said.
Although he was arrested for driving under the influence in March, Brown insists he has been drug-free for more than seven years. He said his attempt to get his life in order is part of the reason why the album took so long to make.
"When you're working on yourself, you have to really concentrate on working on yourself, and it takes a back seat to what you want to do and what I'm gonna do," he said.
Brown says "Masterpiece," which he started working on last year, is "the best album I've done so far.
"But I'm going to do better in the near future," he said. "I just want to get back to what I do, which is entertainment, and this is the start to me getting back to what I want to do."
Brown is engaged to his manager, Alicia Etheridge, with whom he has a young son. He also has older children, including 19-year-old Bobbi Kristina, his only child with Houston.
Brown said he and Etheridge plan a private wedding, and described his life as content.
"I'm happy right now in my life, I'm comfortable with who I am," he said. "It's just better." -- (AP)
NEW YORK — Cissy Houston has a few words, and a few more, for Bobby Brown.
In “Remembering Whitney,” the mother of the late Whitney Houston writes that from the start she had doubted whether Brown was right for her daughter. And she thinks that Whitney might not have ended up so “deep” into drugs had they not stayed together.
“I do believe her life would have turned out differently,” Houston writes. “It would have been easier for her to get sober and stay sober. Instead she was with someone who, like her, wanted to party. To me, he never seemed to be a help to her in the way she needed.”
“Remembering Whitney” came out Jan. 29, two weeks short of the first anniversary of Houston’s death. She drowned in a hotel bathtub in Beverly Hills, Calif., at age 48. Authorities said her death was complicated by cocaine use and heart disease.
During a recent telephone interview, Houston said she has no contact with Brown and didn’t see any reason to, not even concerning her granddaughter, Bobbi Kristina. She reaffirmed her comments in the book that Whitney Houston would have been better off without him. “How would you like it if he had anything to do with your daughter?” she asked.
A request to Brown’s publicist for comment was not immediately returned Monday.
Houston said she wanted the book published so the world would not believe the worst about her daughter. Cissy Houston, herself an accomplished soul and gospel singer who has performed with Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin, describes Whitney as a transcendent talent and vivacious and generous person known affectionately by her childhood nickname, “Nippy.” But she acknowledges in the book that her daughter could be “mean” and “difficult” and questions at times how well she knew her.
“In my darkest moments, I wonder whether Nippy loved me,” she writes. “She always told me she did. But you know, she didn’t call me much. She didn’t come see me as much as I hoped she would.”
But, “almost always,” Whitney Houston was “the sweetest, most loving person in the room.”
Brown is portrayed as childish and impulsive, hot tempered and jealous of his wife’s success. Cissy Houston describes a 1997 incident when Whitney sustained a “deep cut” on her face while on a yacht with Brown in the Mediterranean. Whitney insisted it was an accident; Brown had slammed his hand on a table, breaking a plate. A piece of china flew up and hit Whitney, requiring surgery to cover any possible scar.
The injury was minor, the effects possibly fateful.
“She seemed sadder after that, like something had been taken away from her,” Houston writes.
For years, Whitney’s drug problems had been only a rumor to her mother, who writes that concerns expressed by record executive Clive Davis were kept from her by her daughter and others. But by 2005 she had seen the worst. Houston remembers a horrifying visit to the Atlanta home of Brown and Houston, where the walls and doors were spray-painted with “big glaring eyes and strange faces.” Whitney’s face had been cut out from a framed family picture, an image Cissy Houston found “beyond disturbing.” The next time Houston came to the house, she was joined by two sheriff’s deputies who helped her take Whitney to the hospital.
“She was so angry at me, cursing me and up and down,” she writes. “Eventually, after a good long while, Nippy did stop being angry at me. She realized that I did what I did to protect her, and she later told people that I had saved her life.”
Brown and Whitney Houston divorced in 2007, after 15 years of marriage. When she learned that her daughter was leaving Brown, Cissy Houston was “extremely relieved” and “thanking God so much I’m sure nobody else could get a prayer in to Him.”
Houston has no doubt that if Whitney were alive she would still be singing and making records. Houston said during her interview that she has seen “Sparkle,” a remake of the 1970s movie that came out last summer and featured Whitney as the mother of a singing group struggling with addiction. Although Cissy Houston doesn’t like movies about “drugs and all that kind of stuff,” she was impressed by “Sparkle.”
“I thought she was great in it and all the kids were great,” says Houston, who adds that the “whole movie was hard to get through.”
The book, too, was painful and her grief continues. She writes that sometimes she hears a doorbell ring and thinks it’s Whitney, or sees a vase in a different place and wonders if her daughter is around. Some nights, Cissy Houston wakes up crying, not sure at first where she is.
“But then I get up out of bed, wipe my eyes, wash my face, and lie back down to my sleep. Because that is all I can do,” she writes. “I am so grateful to God for giving me the gift of 48 years with my daughter. And I accept that He knew when it was time to take her.” — (AP)
NEW YORK — In her first interview since Whitney Houston's death, daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown said she's "doing as good as I possibly can" and recalled the tender last moments she shared with her superstar mother before her sudden death last month.
"She's always with me," said the 19-year-old, Houston's only child and sole heir. "Her spirit is strong, it's a strong spirit. I feel her pass through me all the time."
Brown made the comments in a Sunday interview with Oprah Winfrey on Winfrey's network, OWN, that also featured Pat Houston, the singer's manager and sister-in-law, and Gary Houston, the brother of Whitney Houston.
Brown credited her family and God for helping her cope since her mother's death on Feb. 11 at the age of 48.
"It comes in waves. One moment I can be happy and laughing, but then it comes over me. It's my mom," she said.
Houston, who had struggled with drugs and alcohol in the past but according to family had been apparently clean, was found in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on the eve of the Grammys. She was to attend a pre-Grammy party the night she died.
Brown said the night before her mother's death, she asked Houston to spend the night with her.
"I slept in her arms all day, all night long," said Brown, whose father is singer Bobby Brown.
Pat Houston said in the days before Houston died, the singer had not been abusing drugs, despite reports that she had been acting erratically. She said an event she attended two days before her death where Houston looked disheveled was particularly difficult because the legendary performer got into a verbal spat with a former contestant on the "X Factor." Pat Houston would not name the woman, but Stacy Francis has said that she and Whitney Houston had words that night.
According to Pat Houston, Francis "made herself present everywhere we were," unnerving Houston and leading to an argument.
The day of her death had been uneventful, according to her manager. Houston had lunch in her hotel and was preparing for her mentor Clive Davis' annual party. Houston was scheduled to tape an infomercial and other interviews that day.
Pat Houston went out to run errands for about a half hour and when she came back, Whitney Houston's assistant went to check on the singer.
"When I headed down the hallway (to her room), I heard screaming," she said.
When Pat Houston arrived in the room, she saw the singer's security guard frantically trying to revive her ahead of the paramedics. He told her: "I tried."
Pat Houston said the singer had "a peaceful look on her face." The cause of Houston's death has not yet been revealed.
The 90-minute television special also touched on the singer's ex-husband, Bobby Brown, who had a tumultuous marriage with Houston. While some have accused Brown of introducing Houston to drugs, leading to the once pristine singer's downfall, Pat Houston said that was untrue, and both Pat and Gary Houston had warm words for Brown.
"I loved Bobby Brown. Bobby was a good guy," said Gary Houston, her older brother. "I don't know how good they were for each other."
They also denied that the Houston family had asked Brown to leave her funeral service or didn't want him to come; Brown showed up briefly but left after a dispute over seating.
"Bobby was supposed to be there," said Gary Houston.
Pat Houston said Bobby Brown and his daughter have a relationship, but indicated they hadn't spoken since at least Houston's funeral.
Bobbi Kristina Brown said she planned to carry on her mother's legacy and become a singer, as well as act and dance. She expressed frustration over the "negativity" surrounding her mother's image: "That's not my mother."
Instead, she described her as her confidant, a sister, her best friend — "my everything."
She still spends time in the house she and her mother shared together, and at times said it's hard to believe she's not there.
"Sometimes, it's so surreal. I still walk into the house like, 'Mom?'" she said. "But I've accepted it." -- (AP)
LOS ANGELES — Whitney Houston's life of glorious song and unnerving self-destruction apparently ended in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Grammy weekend, but it could be weeks before investigators know exactly why she died.
Coroner's officials say they will not release any information on an autopsy performed Sunday at the request of police detectives investigating the singer's death. Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter declined to say anything more about the room's condition or any evidence investigators recovered.
There were no indications of foul play and no obvious signs of trauma on Houston's body, but officials were not ruling out any causes of death until they have toxicology results, which likely will take weeks to obtain. Beverly Hills Police Lt. Mark Rosen said that his agency may release more details Monday about Houston's death, but it will depend on whether detectives feel comfortable releasing any information.
Security holds on autopsy results are used in some high-profile Los Angeles cases, with Michael Jackson's results being withheld for weeks while detectives pieced together the circumstances of his death in 2009. Toxicology results are frequently necessary before the coroner will release an official cause of death.
A member of Houston's entourage found the 48-year-old singer unresponsive in her hotel room on Saturday, just hours before she was supposed to appear at a pre-Grammy gala.
The Grammys on Sunday were in part a memorial to Houston, a six-time winner. LL Cool J introduced a clip near the start of the show of a glowing Houston singing her signature ballad, a cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You."
Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Wonder were among performers who praised Houston, and Jennifer Hudson capped the tributes with an emotional version of "I Will Always Love You" that ended with a personal note: "Whitney, we love you." Houston's most famous song was the most downloaded single for much of Sunday on iTunes.
Meanwhile, Houston's daughter was transported by ambulance to a Los Angeles hospital Sunday morning and later released. Bobbi Kristina Brown, 18, who is Houston's daughter from her marriage to singer Bobby Brown, had accompanied her mother to several pre-Grammy Awards events last week.
"At this time, we ask for privacy, especially for my daughter, Bobbi Kristina," Bobby Brown wrote in a statement. "I appreciate all of the condolences that have been directed towards my family and I at this most difficult time."
A sensation from her very first album, Houston was one of the world's best-selling artists from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. She awed millions with soaring but disciplined vocals rooted in gospel and polished for the masses, a bridge between the earthy passion of her godmother, Aretha Franklin, and the bouncy pop of her cousin, Dionne Warwick.
Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she became a rare black actress with box office appeal, starring in such hits as "The Bodyguard" and "Waiting to Exhale."
Bishop T.D. Jakes, a Texas minister and producer on Houston's final film project, a re-make of the 1970s release "Sparkle," said he saw no signs Houston was having any substance issues. He said Houston was a complete professional and moved the cast and crew to tears two months ago when she sang the gospel hymn "Her Eyes on the Sparrow" for a scene.
"There was no evidence in working with her on 'Sparkle' that there was any struggle in her life," Jakes said Sunday. "She just left a deep impression on everybody." -- (AP)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Police have closed their investigation into Whitney Houston's death without finding any evidence to suggest it was anything than an accidental drowning, investigators announced Wednesday.
The Beverly Hills Police Department did not release a detailed report on the case, but Lt. Mark Rosen said the conclusion came after detectives reviewed the complete findings of the coroner's office. Coroner's officials ruled Houston drowned accidentally at the Beverly Hilton on Feb. 11 and that heart disease and cocaine use contributed to her death.
Beverly Hills authorities also released a minute-long 911 call made by a hotel worker who summoned police and paramedics to Houston's suite at the hotel. The call revealed few details, other than that people in the Grammy-winning singer's room repeatedly hung up on hotel personnel after discovering Houston in a bathtub.
The dispatcher had asked to be patched into the room to deliver lifesaving instructions, but the security worker said that wasn't possible. He said a woman who notified the hotel that Houston was unresponsive was "irate" and didn't provide many details.
Rosen re-iterated condolences to Houston's family and friends in a brief statement.
Houston's death on the eve of the Grammy Awards stunned the world. The singer had been attempting a comeback and had finished work on a remake of the film "Sparkle" when she drowned.
Toxicology results showed cocaine throughout her body, and coroner's officials said the results indicated chronic use. In the bathroom, investigators found a small spoon described by investigators as having a "crystal-like substance" in it, and they discovered a white powdery substance in a drawer, a coroner's report released last week showed.
Houston had a history of drug abuse which marred her career, robbing her of her voice and reputation, but family and friends described her as intent on returning to glory in the months before her death. Her unexpected death at age 48 sparked a renewed interest in her music and movies, sales of which will benefit her only daughter, Bobbi Kristina. -- (AP)