Whitney Houston, who reigned as pop music’s queen until her majestic voice and image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behaviour and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, died Saturday night. She was 48.
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. Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like “The Bodyguard” and “Waiting to Exhale.”She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey. 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 pristine image was shattered. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once stunning voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.
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.
Houston’s death on the eve of the Grammy Awards sent shock waves through the music industry, with many stars expressing surprise and sadness.
Bobby Brown reportedly broke down backstage before a show with his band New Edition; he skipped the first song of the concert, but appeared onstage for the second. He shouted, “I love you, Whitney. The hardest thing for me to do is to come on this stage.” He then blew a kiss to the sky with visibly teary eyes.
Houston’s long time mentor Clive Davis held his annual concert and dinner Saturday at the hotel where her body was found. Producer Jimmy Jam, who had worked with Houston, said he anticipated the evening would become a tribute to her.
Aretha Franklin, her godmother, also said she was stunned.”I just can’t talk about it now,” Franklin said in a short statement. “It’s so stunning and unbelievable. I couldn’t believe what I was reading coming across the TV screen.”
Jennifer Hudson performed an extremely moving tribute to Houston at the Grammy Awards, Grammy executive producer Ken Erhlich said event organizers believed Hudson could perform a “respectful musical tribute” to Houston. The Dreamgirls actress had less than 24 hours to prepare for her rendition of Houston’s I Will Always Love You at the Grammy Awards on Sunday. The American Idol graduate stood under a single spotlight as she belted out what is largely considered Houston’s most famous hit which was written by Dolly Parton for The Bodyguard soundtrack. Throughout her moving performance Hudson appeared to be fighting back the tears but managed to remain composed right thorough to the end.