‘Queen of Pop’ Houston dies in LA at age 48
Singer and actress Whitney Houston, winner of six Grammy Awards including record of the year for “I Will Always Love You“ and album of the year for “The Bodyguard“, has died at age 48, a spokesperson for the singer said.
“Unfortunately it is true,” said spokesperson Jill Fritzo.
A Beverly Hills police ofﬁcer told reporters at a brieﬁng that emergency assistance received a call from the Beverly Hilton at around 3:20 p.m. PST, and the singer was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m.
“She has been positively identiﬁed by friends and family that were with her at the hotel, and next of kin have already been notiﬁed,” Lieutenant Mark Rosen told reporters.
No other details were immediately available.
Houston was in Los Angeles for the Grammy Awards, the music industry’s biggest honors program that will take place on Sunday night. She died hours before she was expected to perform at record producer Clive Davis’s annual preGrammy party on Saturday, which is held at the Beverly Hilton.
Houston, inspired by soul singers in her New Jersey family, including mother Cissy Houston and cousins Dionne Warwick and the late Dee Dee Warwick, as well as her godmother Aretha Franklin, became one of the most celebrated female singers of all time, taking multiple Emmy, Grammy and Billboard Music awards.
Her popularity soared in the 1980s and 1990s with consecutive No. 1 hits including the smash single “I Will Always Love You” from the soundtrack of the feature ﬁlm “The Bodyguard,” in which she starred.
Immediately, reactions came pouring in from fans and friends in the music industry.
“I am absolutely heartbroken at the news of Whitney’s passing,” legendary music producer Quincy Jones said in a statement. “… I always regretted not having had the opportunity to work with her.
She was a true original and a talent beyond compare. I will miss her terribly.” Pop star Rihanna posted on Twitter “No words, just tears,“ and rapper Nicki Minaj tweeted “Jesus Christ, not Whitney Houston. Greatest of all time.“
One of the most celebrated female singers of all time until her image as America’s sweetheart was ravaged by drug use.
Few pop singers have been gifted with a voice as glorious as Whitney Houston’s, and even fewer have treated their talent with the frustrating indifference she did toward the end of her life. She sold more records and received more awards than almost any other female pop star of the 20th century, but spent most of her last years mired in a drug addiction that sapped her will to sing and left her in a shambolic state.
Her death at the age of 48 will send her albums back into the charts, and introduce her music to a generation who knew her only as a troubled character whose commercial success peaked in the 1990s.
Though never edgy as a musician her skills were often wasted on bland adult-contemporary songs she was more than just a purveyor of anodyne chart hits. Houston was lauded by other vocalists for her impeccable technique and polish, qualities that elevated her above almost every other star of her era.
Houston was gospel-trained, but her voice also lent itself to R&B, pop and ballads, and she was adept at each style. It was a ballad that provided her biggest hit, a 1992 cover version of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You. Her melodramatic rendition, featuring one of her most powerful vocals, sold 12 million copies worldwide, making it one of the biggest singles of all time.
Her total record sales topped 170 million, putting her in an elite group of female superstars that included Mariah Carey and Celine Dion, both of whom were heavily influenced by her emotional, vibrato-laden style.
Houston often gravitated to dra matic songs with lyrics about triumphing over the odds, and has been credited with inventing the “pop diva” genre that has inspired singers to the present day. She was also the ﬁrst black woman to break through the color bar at the all-important MTV, which hitherto had played white artists almost exclusively. The station’s heavy rotation of her videos made her a familiar face to Middle America, and her mix of glamor, talent and approachability made her an aspirational ﬁgure for millions of teenage girls, both black and white. A US magazine editor dubbed her “the ﬁrst black America’s sweetheart”.
Houston’s success made her rich, enabling her to maintain a cocaine habit that kept her from making records for years at a time in her 30s and 40s. Looking back on her addiction after kicking it in the late 2000s, she said paying for it had been easy, as “there was so much money”. But she “didn’t think about the singing part any more”, and when she did return to touring, the neglect showed.
Following are some key facts about Houston: * Houston won six Grammys, 30 Billboard awards and 22 American Music Awards in her career. Her best-known songs include “I will Always Love You” and “Saving All my Love for You.” * She released seven studio albums, the most recent in 2009.
* Houston’s movies included “The Bodyguard” in 1992 with Kevin Costner and “The Preacher’s Wife,” with Denzel Washington, and “Waiting to Exhale.” * Houston started out singing in her church gospel choir in New Jersey at age 11 and released her ﬁrst album in 1985 after being discovered by record producer Clive Davis.
* Houston married Bobby Brown on July 18, 1992. They divorced after 14 years and a tumultuous relationship fueled by drugs.
* The last 10 years of Houston’s life were dominated by drug use, rumors of relapses and trips to rehab. In a 2002 TV interview, she admitted using marijuana, cocaine, alcohol and prescription drugs. She launched a comeback tour in 2009 and in April 2010 she called media reports she was using drugs again “ridiculous.“ In May 2011, Houston enrolled in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. (Reuters)
FRIENDS & FANS SAY GOODBYE
Shortly after her death, CNN reported that eight out of the top ten worldwide trending topics on Twitter were about Houston, led by “R.I.P Whitney Houston“, which people asked to retweet in memory of the singer.
Some of the most notable tweets from Hollywood celebrities are:
Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey): “Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston. My heartfelt condolences to Whitney’s family and to all her millions of fans throughout the world. She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth.“
Justin Bieber (@JustinBieber): “just heard the news. so crazy. One of the GREATEST VOICES EVER just passed. RIP Whitney Houston. My prayers go out to her friends and family.“
Rihanna (@Rihanna): “No words! Just tears #DearWhitney“
Alicia Keys (@aliciakeys): I feel sick… Life is precious, we are fragile souls. Let’s love each other! I miss you beautiful Whitney, the whole world misses you!!
Tony Bennett (@itstonybennett): It’s a tragedy. Whitney Houston was the greatest singer I’ve ever heard and she will be truly missed.
Local celebrities also expressed their sadness via the site:
Maria Aragon (@mariiiaofficial): I’m speechless. I seriously cannot believe this. You’ll be in my heart forever, and I will ALWAYS love you :’(
Lea Salonga (@msleasalonga): Whitney Houston’s amazing voice will be remembered forever. Let us rejoice that she left the world so much music! Bravo! You will be missed.
Regine Velasquez (@reginevalcasid): Nakakalungkot:-( Ms Whitney Houston thank you for being part of my life and my music. RIP Charice (@officialcharice): One of my heroes, Whitney Houston. I will always love you… RIP.
Gary Valenciano (@4ever_on_ faith): Ur music will liv on and on. “There can be miracles…WHEN YOU BELIEVE“ Thank u…tho uv bin thru so much, u still inspired us.#whitneyhouston
Zsa Zsa Padilla (@zsazsapadilla): Such a sad day. :( I grew up singing your songs, Whitney Houston. Your memory and music will live on in our hearts. R.I.P.
On CNN, Morgan calls Houston the Queen of Pop. CNN likewise confirms that Jennifer Hudson would be performing a tribute to Houston at the Grammy’s awards ceremony. (Annie D. Alejo)