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By Gina Anderson on 19.2.2024

The Late Great Whitney Houston

Dominating news headlines over the past week has been the unexpected death of US singer, actress and all-round superstar Whitney Houston.
Houston was declared deceased at approximately 3.55pm on Saturday 11th February 2012. According to police statements, the body was found unconscious and underwater in the bath tub of her Los Angeles hotel room where it is believed she was residing in light of the Grammy awards ceremony that was to begin later that evening.
As no definite cause of death has been provided yet, speculation surrounding the musical legend’s death grows. TV hostess and legal commentator Nancy Grace in particular appeared on CNN just three days after the death was publicised announcing that someone may have pushed and held Houston under the water, suggesting that the singer’s death was a violent act of murder. Following unflattering photographs of a drunk Houston leaving a nightclub just two days before her death, and reports that Houston’s body was found surrounded by various bottles of prescription drugs including painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs, and drugs for bacterial infection, has resulted in newspapers also sharing in the speculation of intentional death, in this instance inferring suicide. Los Angeles assistant chief coroner Ed Winter who is overseeing the investigation has offered no support to any of these claims and has stated that until a toxicology report becomes available in the next few weeks, it is impossible to determine the exact cause of death.


Whitney photographed inebriated just days before her death

At first it was thought that singer and reality TV star Ray-J, who dated Houston between 2007 and 2009, found the star in her hotel room. But the famous brother of singer and actress, Brandy, later released a statement explaining he “was nowhere near the scene but no less distraught”. Photographs have been publicised online of Ray-J leaving the Beverly Hilton Hotel with his face buried in his hands after visiting the deceased body of his ex-lover.
Since the outbreak of the story, fears have grown concerning the mental state of Houston’s 18 year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina. Authorities have communicated that the teenager was rushed to hospital twice in the 24 hours following the discovery of her mother’s body where she was treated for extreme anxiety. In addition, headlines have circulated proposing that the 18 year-old is suffering from substance abuse however the daughter of the star took to twitter earlier this week to deny any such claims.
Bobby brown, Houston’s ex-husband is also believed to be struggling with the devastating news as he is said to be “in and out of crying fits”. Furthermore, Brown was witnessed “frustrated” and storming out of the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, on the day of Houston’s funeral, Saturday 18th February 2012, after being told he was not allowed to be seated in the first row near his daughter, Bobbi Kristina.
Apart from the fracas of this seating dispute, the funeral of Houston was an event graced by a galaxy of the singer’s family, friends, and mourning fans. Tribute performances were sung in the church where Houston was raised by acts such as gospel singer Dionne McClurken, Bebe Winans, Stevie Wonder, and Alicia Keys. Heartfelt expressions were made by co-star of the hit movie ‘The Bodyguard’ Kevin Costner, Houston’s cousin and pop diva Dionne Warwick, and Houston’s mentor and CEO of Sony, Clive Davis , to name a few.


A snapshot of the singer’s funeral procession

As my own tribute to the legend, and for those readers who are unaware of the legend that was Whitney Houston, I will outline her long and successful 30 year career within the music and film industry.
Houston was born on August 9th, 1963, with an unusual supply of musical genes; she was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, cousin of 1960’s pop star Dionne Warwick, and the goddaughter of the legendary Aretha Franklin. Houston began singing gospel songs at the age of five at her local church in New Jersey where her funeral recently took place. Spotted in a Manhattan nightclub by Clive Davis at the age of 19, Houston was signed instantly. Houston’s debut album was released in 1985, entitled ‘Whitney Houston’ and became the best-selling debut album by any female act at the time. Following this, her second album in 1987 became the first album by any female artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart, which spawned numerous Grammy award winning hits including ‘Saving All My Love For You’, ‘How Will I Know’, and ‘The Greatest Love Of All’. In addition to this already inspiring success, Houston starred in ‘The Bodyguard’ in 1992, which made her name in the world of film alongside music. Unfortunately, Houston’s love life did not project an image of success as did her professional career. In 1992, Houston married hip-hop singer Bobby Brown, a marriage that lasted 14 years before an acrimonious split in April 2007. During this period, Houston admitted to falling victim to substance abuse, using cocaine and marijuana among other pills. Houston was declared clean of her addiction in 2010, however her once strong and flawless voice had now become hoarse and fans were in great disappointment as concert dates had been missed.

Despite this tragic fall, Houston was a talent like no other, and as expressed by Costner at the funeral on Saturday, we should refrain from the negativity that became her downfall, and “remember the sweet miracle of Whitney”.

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