US singer and actress Whitney Houston has passed away at the age of 48 in Los Angeles. The cause of her death is as yet unclear.
The singer was found in a hotel room in Beverly Hills, police spokesman Mark Rosen told reporters. “At 3:55 pm Whitney Houston was pronounced dead at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.”
Houston’s death comes on the eve of one of the music world’s biggest events, the Grammys, where she received six awards during her career. Celebrated as one of the greatest female singers of all time, she also won two Emmys, 30 Billboard and 22 American Music awards.
The bittersweet irony, as noted by some of the gala’s guests, was that Whitney was actually introduced to the world by mentor Clive Davis at his pre-Grammy party more than two decades ago – and many felt that it was almost appropriate that most of the music industry gathered to say goodbye to the legendary singer at the same place they first heard her mesmerizing voice.
Houston was actually supposed to perform at the gala, hosted annually by her mentor, music executive Clive Davis. It was, according to Davis, “her favorite night of the year” – and she was even considering performing at the event.
The decision to carry on with the party, at the very same hotel where Ms Houston was pronounced dead just hours before, did not come easy to Davis – but he said his protégé “loved music and she loved this night that celebrates music”. The mood, however, was somber, with many of the guests looking shocked or dazed. Addressing the guests, Davis said he was “personally devastated” – but “Whitney would have wanted the music to go on and her family asked that we carry on”.
A part of tonight’s Grammy awards ceremony will also be dedicated to the music legend.
In recent years the diva had struggled with drug abuse which affected her brilliant voice and superstar image. “The biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy,” Houston said in a 2002 interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer.
She was one of the world’s best-selling artists with more than 170 million albums and singles sold across the world. Her musical work influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey.
Whitney Houston started her acting career in The Bodyguard (1992). Whitney’s lead single from its original soundtrack, “I Will Always Love You,” became the best-selling single by a female artist in music history. She also starred in Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher’s Wife (1996).
She was born in 1963 in a middle-income neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey, into the family of John Russell Houston, Jr. an entertainment executive and Cissy Houston, an accomplished gospel singer. She found inspiration in the soul and gospel musical traditions of her family. She was the cousin of Dionne Warwick and god-daughter of Aretha Franklin.
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