12/2/12

WHITNEY HOUSTON DIED

Whitney Houston dead at the age of 48 one day before Grammy Awards!Whitney Houston, whose sublime voice carried her to the pinnacle of the music world before drug abuse sent her into a tragic tailspin, died Saturday in a Beverly Hills hotel. She was 48.
WHITNEY HOUSTON VIDEO
Houston was declared dead at 3:55 p.m. in a fourth-floor room of the Beverly Hilton after paramedics spent nearly 30 minutes trying to revive her, authorities said.

The cause of her death was unknown. Houston was in town for music executive Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy party, one of Hollywood's hottest events of the year. In a creepy twist, the swanky shindig went on early Sunday with Houston's body still upstairs.

Davis, in an address to the numb crowd, spoke of Houston's "unspeakable passing."

"Whitney would have wanted the music to go on," Davis added.

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Houston appeared belligerent and disheveled Thursday at the rehearsals for Davis' annual gala. Her hair wet and her clothes mismatched, the visibly bloated singer flitted erratically around the ballroom, the Los Angeles Times reported.

But her mother, Cissy Houston and her cousin, Dionne Warwick, reportedly spoke to the troubled singer over the phone Saturday and had no indication anything was wrong.

Her death casts a pall on Sunday's Grammy Awards ceremonies and she will be honored in a musical tribute by Jennifer Hudson and Chaka Kahn, ET reported.

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Houston's death marked a dramatic end for a musical prodigy who always had a flair for the dramatic. At her peak, Houston reigned as the queen of pop music. Her voice carried an intensity that brought listeners to tears, and her looks were just as striking.

From the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, she ranked as one of the world's best selling artists. She took home six Grammy Awards and was nominated 26 times.

Houston's influence was not confined to pop music. She also became a movie star and an inspiration for dozens of future musical icons, including Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey.

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But her life and career ended in tatters, drug and alcohol abuse stripping her of her voice and her beautiful looks. Her death prompted a flood of tributes.

"I am absolutely heartbroken at the news of Whitney's passing," music producer Quincy Jones said in a written 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."

Born in Newark, Houston grew up with music. Her father, John Russell Houston, was an entertainment executive; her mother was a gospel singer. By the age of 11, Whitney was performing solos as part of a junior gospel choir.

Houston's mother often brought her along to her nightclub gigs, and it was not uncommon for the future pop sensation to perform on stage with her mom. She went on to sing backup on a string of albums by musical giants, including Khan and Lou Rawls.

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While still in her teens, she quickly became a rising star in the modeling world, appearing in Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazines.

In time, Houston's magical voice outshone her striking looks. She signed her first record deal, with Arista Records, in 1983. Her first album, "Whitney Houston," became a sensation, topping the Billboard chart for weeks and turning her into a global star.

Houston was nominated for three Grammy Awards in 1986, including Album of the Year. Her second album, "Whitney," was nominated for Album of the Year in 1988.

Three years later, she performed a stirring rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXV, while American troops were embroiled in the Persian Gulf War. The performance was hailed so widely it was released as a commercial single.

Houston married bad boy R&B singer Bobby Brown in 1992, and gave birth to her only child a year later. The relationship would soon explode in public as the pair's messy spats became regular fodder in gossip columns.

Her first film came in 1992, when she starred in "The Bodyguard" alongside Kevin Costner, a performance that won her rave reviews and established her as one of the world's biggest stars.

In the late 1990s, her pristine image began to unravel. Houston appeared gaunt in public on numerous occasions, fueling rumors that she was battling drug problems. In an infamous 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer, a frazzled Houston fueled concerns with her claim: "Crack is wack."

But in later years, there was no way she could hide from her drug battles. She was seen in public slurring her words and unsteady on her feet. She admitted to being hooked on cocaine, marijuana and pills. The years of drug use took a toll on her face and voice.
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