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 Whitney Houston, superstar of records, films, dies
 
curtis simpkins
post Feb 12 2012, 01:42 AM
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Sat, 11 Feb 2012 20:22:48 -0500

LOS ANGELES (AP) Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music's queen

until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use,

erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has

died. She was 48.


Houston's publicist, Kristen Foster, said Saturday that the singer had

died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.

News of Houston's death came on the eve of music's biggest night the

Grammy Awards. It's a showcase where she once reigned, and her death

was sure to case a heavy pall on Sunday's ceremony. Houston's longtime

mentor Clive Davis was to hold his annual concert and dinner Saturday;

it was unclear if it was going to go forward.

At her peak, Houston the golden girl of the music industry. From the

middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world's best-selling

artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless

vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the

masses with a pop sheen.

Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in

hits like "The Bodyguard" and "Waiting to Exhale."

She had the he perfect voice, and the perfect image: a gorgeous singer

who had sex appeal but was never overtly sexual, who maintained perfect

poise.

She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera

to Mariah Carey, who when she first came out sounded so much like

Houston that many thought it was Houston.

But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale

of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped

coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and

bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana

and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable

to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.

"The biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy,"

Houston told ABC's Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 interview with

then-husband Brown by her side.

It was a tragic fall for a superstar who was one of the top-selling

artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in

the United States alone.

She seemed to be born into greatness. She was the daughter of gospel

singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of 1960s pop diva Dionne Warwick and

the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin.

Houston first started singing in the church as a child. In her teens,

she sang backup for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in

addition to modeling. It was around that time when music mogul Clive

Davis first heard Houston perform.

"The time that I first saw her singing in her mother's act in a club

... it was such a stunning impact," Davis told "Good Morning America."


"To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song. I mean, it

really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine," he added.

Before long, the rest of the country would feel it, too. Houston made

her album debut in 1985 with "Whitney Houston," which sold millions and

spawned hit after hit. "Saving All My Love for You" brought her her

first Grammy, for best female pop vocal. "How Will I Know," ''You Give

Good Love" and "The Greatest Love of All" also became hit singles.

Another multiplatinum album, "Whitney," came out in 1987 and included

hits like "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" and "I Wanna Dance With

Somebody."

The New York Times wrote that Houston "possesses one of her

generation's most powerful gospel-trained voices, but she eschews many

of the churchier mannerisms of her forerunners. She uses ornamental

gospel phrasing only sparingly, and instead of projecting an earthy,

tearful vulnerability, communicates cool self-assurance and strength,

building pop ballads to majestic, sustained peaks of intensity."

Her decision not to follow the more soulful inflections of singers like

Franklin drew criticism by some who saw her as playing down her black

roots to go pop and reach white audiences. The criticism would become a

constant refrain through much of her career. She was even booed during

the "Soul Train Awards" in 1989.

"Sometimes it gets down to that, you know?" she told Katie Couric in

1996. "You're not black enough for them. I don't know. You're not R&B

enough. You're very pop. The white audience has taken you away from

them."

Some saw her 1992 marriage to former New Edition member and soul

crooner Bobby Brown as an attempt to refute those critics. It seemed to

be an odd union; she was seen as pop's pure princess while he had a

bad-boy image, and already had children of his own. (The couple had a

daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993.) Over the years, he would be

arrested several times, on charges ranging from DUI to failure to pay

child support.

But Houston said their true personalities were not as far apart as

people may have believed.

"When you love, you love. I mean, do you stop loving somebody because

you have different images? You know, Bobby and I basically come from

the same place," she told Rolling Stone in 1993. "You see somebody, and

you deal with their image, that's their image. It's part of them, it's

not the whole picture. I am not always in a sequined gown. I am

nobody's angel. I can get down and dirty. I can get raunchy."

It would take several years, however, for the public to see that side

of Houston. Her moving 1991 rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" at

the Super Bowl, amid the first Gulf War, set a new standard and once

again reaffirmed her as America's sweetheart.

In 1992, she became a star in the acting world with "The Bodyguard."

Despite mixed reviews, the story of a singer (Houston) guarded by a

former Secret Service agent (Kevin Costner) was an international

success.

It also gave her perhaps her most memorable hit: a searing, stunning

rendition of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You," which sat atop

the charts for weeks. It was Grammy's record of the year and best

female pop vocal, and the "Bodyguard" soundtrack was named album of the

year.

She returned to the big screen in 1995-96 with "Waiting to Exhale" and

"The Preacher's Wife." Both spawned soundtrack albums, and another hit

studio album, "My Love Is Your Love," in 1998, brought her a Grammy for

best female R&B vocal for the cut "It's Not Right But It's Okay."

But during these career and personal highs, Houston was using drugs. In

an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2010, she said by the time "The

Preacher's Wife" was released, "(doing drugs) was an everyday thing.

... I would do my work, but after I did my work, for a whole year or

two, it was every day. ... I wasn't happy by that point in time. I was

losing myself."

In the interview, Houston blamed her rocky marriage to Brown, which

included a charge of domestic abuse against Brown in 1993. They

divorced in 2007.

Houston would go to rehab twice before she would declare herself

drug-free to Winfrey in 2010. But in the interim, there were missed

concert dates, a stop at an airport due to drugs, and public meltdowns.

She was so startlingly thin during a 2001 Michael Jackson tribute

concert that rumors spread she had died the next day. Her crude

behavior and jittery appearance on Brown's reality show, "Being Bobby

Brown," was an example of her sad decline. Her Sawyer interview, where

she declared "crack is whack," was often parodied. She dropped out of

the spotlight for a few years.

Houston staged what seemed to be a successful comeback with the 2009

album "I Look To You." The album debuted on the top of the charts, and

would eventually go platinum.

Things soon fell apart. A concert to promote the album on "Good Morning

America" went awry as Houston's voice sounded ragged and off-key. She

blamed an interview with Winfrey for straining her voice.

A world tour launched overseas, however, only confirmed suspicions that

Houston had lost her treasured gift, as she failed to hit notes and

left many fans unimpressed; some walked out. Canceled concert dates

raised speculation that she may have been abusing drugs, but she denied

those claims and said she was in great shape, blaming illness for

cancellations


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Memphis-Man
post Feb 12 2012, 02:42 AM
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This is very sad news. She had an amazing talent and a wonderful voice. She will be missed. May she rest in peace.

M-M


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elvislady
post Feb 12 2012, 06:46 PM
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Whitney was one of my idols..loved and played her music till this day..very sad.

jeanette


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