Sunday, 12 February 2012

Life and Times of late Whitney Houston.

Whitney Houston, who
reigned 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.
Publicist Kristen Foster
said Saturday that the
singer had died, but the
cause and the location of
her death were unknown.
At her peak, Houston
was 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 perfect voice
and the perfect image: a
gorgeous singer who had
sex appeal but was
never overtly sexual,
who maintained perfect
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
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
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
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
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
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
But Houston said their
true personalities were
not as far apart as
people may have
"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
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
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
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
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.

No comments: