Whitney Houston died yesterday (February 11) in Los Angeles at the age of 48.
The singer passed away at the Beverly Hilton hotel in advance of a pre-Grammy Awards event hosted by Arista Records founder Clive Davis, the man who signed her in the early 1980s.
Houston was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1963 to a musical family, with her mother Cissi Houston, her cousins Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick and godmother Aretha Franklin, all successful soul singers.
She started out in a gospel choir and Clive Davis signed her to Arista in 1983. However, her first recorded output was in 1978, when she sang backing vocals on Chaka Khan’s single ‘I’m Every Woman’. She also worked as a model in the early 1980s.
Houston’s self-titled debut album came out in 1985 and topped the Billboard chart in the United States and went to Number Two in the UK albums chart. The album featured the singles ‘How Will I Know’, ‘Greatest Love Of All’ and ‘Saving All My Love For You’, for which she won her first Grammy – of six – in the Best Pop Vocal Performance – Female category.
Her second album, ‘Whitney’, topped the UK album chart, and its first single ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)’ also went in at Number One in the UK singles chart, and won her her second Grammy.
Her third album, ‘I’m Your Baby Tonight’, was released in 1990, but it would be another eight years until her next LP. In the intervening years, Houston married fellow singer Bobby Brown. She also starred in The Bodyguard, with Kevin Costner in 1992, a film which spawned her huge Number One single, ‘I Will Always Love You’, a cover version of Dolly Parton‘s 1974 song. The song spent 10 weeks at the top of the UK charts and won Houston her third Grammy.
Roles in the films Waiting To Exhale and The Preachers Wife followed and in 1998 she released her fourth album, ‘My Love Is Your Love’, which featured the hit, Grammy Award winning single, ‘It’s Not Right But It’s Okay’.
By 2000, rumours of drug use began to plague Houston as marijuana was found in her and husband Bobby Brown’s luggage and as the star missed shows and her weight dropped. In a 2002 TV interview, she denied reports that she was addicted to crack, famously saying “crack is wack”, but she did admit to using other drugs.
Houston and Brown then appeared in the reality show Being Bobby Brown, sparking further concern for her well-being. In 2006 the couple separated and divorced a year later, with Houston winning custody of their only daughter.
She released what would be her last album, ‘I Look To You’, in 2009. That year she did an interview with Oprah Winfrey in which she admitted to having used drugs on a daily basis, including cocaine. A series of shambolic gigs and her being banned from a series of Prince shows led to the singer checking into rehab last year for drug and alcohol problems. She had previously entered rehab in 2004 and 2005.
Whitney Houston was set to return to the big screen with a role in the forthcoming remake of the 1976 music movie Sparkle.
She was declared dead at 3.55pm (PST) on February 11, by paramedics who had performed CPR on the singer for 20 minutes. Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party still went ahead and, reports People, he said to the guests: “She loved music and loved this night that celebrated music. Whitney would have asked that the music go on. And her family said the show should go on.”
Jennifer Hudson and Chaka Khan will perform a tribute to Houston at tonight’s Grammy Awards ceremony.