Whitney Houston Dead At Age 48
On the eve of the Grammy Awards, six-time Grammy winner and legend of pop and R&B Whitney Houston has been confirmed dead at age 48.
Houston publicist Kristen Foster confirmed the singing and film star's passing to the Associated Press Saturday. Foster did not discuss Houston's location or cause of death, ABC News reports.
Before her career became a casualty of drug abuse, Houston won multiple Album of the Year and Record of the Year Grammys. Her most memorable hits included "How Will I Know," "I Want To Dance With Somebody" and her covers of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" and Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman."
Her rendition of "I Will Always Love You" was as memorable a part of her major film debut alongside Kevin Costner in 1992's "The Bodyguard" as her actual performance. Houston played a stalked pop sensation who takes up Costner as her hired professional protector and eventual lover. In fact, the performance unfortunately earned Houston a Razzie Award nomination in the Worst Actress category. "I Will Always Love You" was certified four-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Houston executive produced the soundtrack and contributed six new songs, the album topping the Billboard 200 chart and holding the spot 20 non-consecutive weeks.
Her performance in 1991 of "The Star Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXV as U.S. troops were embroiled in the Persian Gulf War is considered an iconic moment in the game's history. It was so well-received, it was released as a commercial single and became the only released version of the National Anthem to ever chart in the Top 20 of the U.S. Hot 100. It would be re-released following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and peaked at Number Six.
In the later years of her career, her talent became overshadowed both by substance abuse's toll on her voice and her tumultuous marriage to R&B star and former New Edition member Bobby Brown, which in 1993 produced the pair's only child, Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown. Married in 1992, the pair's marriage was often tabloid-fodder for accounts of spousal abuse and drug use. The pair separated in September 2006, and divorced shortly after.
By that point, Houston's admitted drug use had sent her career spiraling from the late 1990s onward. She became notorious for showing up or even no-showing press appearances. She often canceled scheduled concerts and in 2000, she and Brown were caught with marijuana in their luggage at a Hawaii airport, but fled before police arrived. Houston failed to show up two months later to perform at legendary Arista Records head Clive Davis' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Academy Awards musical director and long time friend Burt Bacharach fired Houston from performing at that year's Oscar ceremony. By this time, her voice had become raspy, hoarse and lacked its famous power.
In what would become an infamous 2002 interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Houston would address her rumored drug problem - specifically, the accusations that she smoked crack cocaine - stating "First of all, let's get one thing straight. Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let's get that straight. Okay? We don't do crack. We don't do that. Crack is whack." She would later admit to abusing other substances.
Houston's August 2009 comeback album after years of legal disputes, I Look To You, entered the Billboard 200 at Number One. She'd admit later that year in an interview with Oprah Winfrey to lacing marijuana with "rock cocaine." The Hollywood Reporter reported shortly before her death that Houston had been approached about filling one of two vacancies for judges on the U.S. localization of "The X Factor" alongside Simon Cowell and Antonio "L.A." Reid.
In total, Houston's career in recording, television and film earned her two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards and 22 American Music Awards for a career that began in 1977.