Whitney Houston — the pop songstress who so famously sang about “The Greatest Love of All” but struggled in recent years due to drug and alcohol issues — has died.
Houston’s publicist confirmed her death to the Associated Press, but did not disclose the cause or where she died. The Los Angeles Times has cited law enforcement reports that say Houston was found in a Beverly Hills hotel room, where she was evidently staying prior to a planned performance at a Grammy Awards eve party hosted by producer Clive Davis, the man who guided Houston’s career. The ‘80s and ‘90s hitmaker, ex-wife of Bobby Brown and mother of daughter Bobbi Kristina was 48.
This very sad end to Houston’s often turbulent life and once sparkling career comes less than a year after she reentered rehab, and two years after she attempted to kick-start a musical comeback, with only modest success. A year ago, she sang alongside cousin Dionne Warwick at an annual pre-Grammy party, and was criticized by members of the media because her voice sounded less vital than it once did. In an attempt, perhaps, to bolster her confidence after the criticism, Lady Gaga dedicated her best album statuette to Houston during last year’s Grammys.
The death of the vocal powerhouse who cranked out hit after hit during the 1980s and early ‘90s — among others, “Saving All My Love for You,” “The Greatest Love of All,” “How Will I Know?,” and “I Will Always Love You” — will undoubtedly overshadow virtually everything about Sunday’s Grammy ceremony. And understandably so.
Despite her drug problems, a marriage to Brown that was partially documented in the Bravo reality show “Being Bobby Brown” and that famous interview with Diane Sawyer in which she stated that “Crack is whack,” Houston was still revered for demonstrating that a soaring, heavenly female voice could be valued during a time when one-hit wonders and attention-getting music videos reigned. Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys and countless other artists have cited Houston as a major influence and source of inspiration.
In addition to topping Billboard charts, Houston also snagged notable film roles in movies like “The Bodyguard” and “Waiting to Exhale.” Many also considered her the vocalist responsible for delivering the most memorable national anthem of all time, thanks to her performance at the 1991 Super Bowl. Her rendition was so extraordinary that, like so many of her songs, it also charted, making her the only artist in history to turn “The Star Spangled-Banner” into a hit song.
Watching her belt it again now is a reminder of what an immense gift she had, and what an immense gift the music world has just lost.
Not surprisingly, reactions to Houston’s death are dominating Twitter. We encourage you to pay your respects as well by posting a comment below.
This post has been updated as of 11 a.m. Feb. 12.