News Whitney Houston has died

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ky

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Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-207_162-57376028/singer-whitney-houston-dies-at-48/

(AP) LOS ANGELES - Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died. She was 48.

Houston's publicist, Kristen Foster, said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.
News of Houston's death came on the eve of music's biggest night — the Grammy Awards. It's a showcase where she once reigned, and her death was sure to case a heavy pall on Sunday's ceremony. Houston's longtime mentor Clive Davis was to hold his annual concert and dinner Saturday; it was unclear if it was going to go forward.
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At her peak, Houston the golden girl of the music industry. From the middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world's best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.

Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like "The Bodyguard" and "Waiting to Exhale."
She had the he perfect voice, and the perfect image: a gorgeous singer who had sex appeal but was never overtly sexual, who maintained perfect poise.

She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey, who when she first came out sounded so much like Houston that many thought it was Houston.

But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.

"The biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy," Houston told ABC's Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 interview with then-husband Brown by her side.

It was a tragic fall for a superstar who was one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone.

She seemed to be born into greatness. She was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of 1960s pop diva Dionne Warwick and the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin.

Houston first started singing in the church as a child. In her teens, she sang backup for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling. It was around that time when music mogul Clive Davis first heard Houston perform.

"The time that I first saw her singing in her mother's act in a club ... it was such a stunning impact," Davis told "Good Morning America."
"To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song. I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine," he added.

Before long, the rest of the country would feel it, too. Houston made her album debut in 1985 with "Whitney Houston," which sold millions and spawned hit after hit. "Saving All My Love for You" brought her her first Grammy, for best female pop vocal. "How Will I Know," "You Give Good Love" and "The Greatest Love of All" also became hit singles.

Another multiplatinum album, "Whitney," came out in 1987 and included hits like "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."
The New York Times wrote that Houston "possesses one of her generation's most powerful gospel-trained voices, but she eschews many of the churchier mannerisms of her forerunners. She uses ornamental gospel phrasing only sparingly, and instead of projecting an earthy, tearful vulnerability, communicates cool self-assurance and strength, building pop ballads to majestic, sustained peaks of intensity."

Her decision not to follow the more soulful inflections of singers like Franklin drew criticism by some who saw her as playing down her black roots to go pop and reach white audiences. The criticism would become a constant refrain through much of her career. She was even booed during the "Soul Train Awards" in 1989.

"Sometimes it gets down to that, you know?" she told Katie Couric in 1996. "You're not black enough for them. I don't know. You're not R&B enough. You're very pop. The white audience has taken you away from them."
Some saw her 1992 marriage to former New Edition member and soul crooner Bobby Brown as an attempt to refute those critics. It seemed to be an odd union; she was seen as pop's pure princess while he had a bad-boy image, and already had children of his own. (The couple had a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993.) Over the years, he would be arrested several times, on charges ranging from DUI to failure to pay child support.
But Houston said their true personalities were not as far apart as people may have believed.

"When you love, you love. I mean, do you stop loving somebody because you have different images? You know, Bobby and I basically come from the same place," she told Rolling Stone in 1993. "You see somebody, and you deal with their image, that's their image. It's part of them, it's not the whole picture. I am not always in a sequined gown. I am nobody's angel. I can get down and dirty. I can get raunchy."

It would take several years, however, for the public to see that side of Houston. Her moving 1991 rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl, amid the first Gulf War, set a new standard and once again reaffirmed her as America's sweetheart.

In 1992, she became a star in the acting world with "The Bodyguard." Despite mixed reviews, the story of a singer (Houston) guarded by a former Secret Service agent (Kevin Costner) was an international success.
It also gave her perhaps her most memorable hit: a searing, stunning rendition of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You," which sat atop the charts for weeks. It was Grammy's record of the year and best female pop vocal, and the "Bodyguard" soundtrack was named album of the year.
She returned to the big screen in 1995-96 with "Waiting to Exhale" and "The Preacher's Wife." Both spawned soundtrack albums, and another hit studio album, "My Love Is Your Love," in 1998, brought her a Grammy for best female R&B vocal for the cut "It's Not Right But It's Okay."

But during these career and personal highs, Houston was using drugs. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2010, she said by the time "The Preacher's Wife" was released, "(doing drugs) was an everyday thing. ... I would do my work, but after I did my work, for a whole year or two, it was every day. ... I wasn't happy by that point in time. I was losing myself."
In the interview, Houston blamed her rocky marriage to Brown, which included a charge of domestic abuse against Brown in 1993. They divorced in 2007.

Houston would go to rehab twice before she would declare herself drug-free to Winfrey in 2010. But in the interim, there were missed concert dates, a stop at an airport due to drugs, and public meltdowns.
She was so startlingly thin during a 2001 Michael Jackson tribute concert that rumors spread she had died the next day. Her crude behavior and jittery appearance on Brown's reality show, "Being Bobby Brown," was an example of her sad decline. Her Sawyer interview, where she declared "crack is whack," was often parodied. She dropped out of the spotlight for a few years.

Houston staged what seemed to be a successful comeback with the 2009 album "I Look To You." The album debuted on the top of the charts, and would eventually go platinum.
Things soon fell apart. A concert to promote the album on "Good Morning America" went awry as Houston's voice sounded ragged and off-key. She blamed an interview with Winfrey for straining her voice.

A world tour launched overseas, however, only confirmed suspicions that Houston had lost her treasured gift, as she failed to hit notes and left many fans unimpressed; some walked out. Canceled concert dates raised speculation that she may have been abusing drugs, but she denied those claims and said she was in great shape, blaming illness for cancellations.
 
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Felipi1205

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I saw it on the TV some minutes ago. RIP Whitney. I'm not a fan, I'm very young, but her voice was AMAZING!
 

Yoda

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Well for us older folks she definatively was a icon of our time until she decided to do drugs and alcohol.
Very sad to see a person this young and with so much talent die, but I can't really say that I'm surprised looking at the way she conducted her life.

RIP Whitney; your songs will always be with us.
 

Keatah

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Ouch. But really, she conducted her life as such. Failing to make simple choice. Drugs or no drugs. This is nothing new.
 

Urwumpe

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She died for me much sooner, when she killed the exceptional singer in her. It is maybe just the necessary consequence that she died now also physically. She was only a shade of what she once used to be, her death not more than the fatal final of a decade long suffering. You can't just die a little everyday, without being out of life one final day.

RIP legend, and thank you for providing us the songs almost twenty years ago, that will for centuries make casting show candidates fail trying to reach your vocal skills.
 

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I actually wanted to write that the bottom line for me is: no fooling around with hard drugs. But this...

She died for me much sooner, when she killed the exceptional singer in her. It is maybe just the necessary consequence that she died now also physically. She was only a shade of what she once used to be, her death not more than the fatal final of a decade long suffering. You can't just die a little everyday, without being out of life one final day.

...hits the nail way better. She died many years ago already. Her comeback was just a shadow of a person which had gone long time before. I was shocked.

I never was a true fan, but that she had an extraordinary voice is a stone cold fact. Sad to see humans do such bad things to themself.
 

JEL

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@Urwumpe; a person shouldn't only have value as long as they can sing. Even as she grew older and lost her voice gradually, she was still a human being that her loved ones loved. That must count for something to, even to you, you sauerkraut :)

I have looked at a few of her last live performances (done during 2010) on youtube, and she's no less of a singer in them. Ofcourse she is older, and with that comes a price, for ALL singers. Her voice do indeed sound more like a jazz-singer's, but that's just a different appeal, no less qualified. Listen to Leonard Cohen... I rest my case :)

Everybody loses the ability to hit the high notes when they grow older. Take Midge Ure, as an example, he's the best male singer in the world, he could sing the song "Vienna" live AND hit the high notes. No man has EVER come close to his singing-abilities. He can't do that live today, despite being perfectly healthy (and still an amazingly good and talented singer (and musician. By the way, Ultravox is out with a brand new album shortly))

So blaming Whitney for not being able to sing like an 18 year old when she's 48 is really not fair on any account.

When you become 48 yourself, I'll bet an entire dollar your coding-skills will not be as great as they are today. Don't knock her for being human like the rest of us :)

Someone on twitter tweeted: "Rest in love Whitney". I thought that was a nice thing to say.


 

Izack

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Even as she grew older and lost her voice gradually, she was still a human being that her loved ones loved.
And plenty of those die every day without being mentioned on O-F. But she was still worth a eulogy from people who weren't close to her, which speaks of somewhat more 'value' to the world at large than the ones who pass quietly away. What I mean is if she was that valueless, we wouldn't have this thread. :p
 

FADEC

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The loss of her voice was not due to a natural aging process. I don't think we have to go into details of her excessive life since we all certainly know about it. As tragic as her loss is, but she called out her fate like many other famous musicians did. Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse are the other latest examples. And of course they all were human beings ;)
 

JEL

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@Izack; Yes, sorry if I appear overly touchy :)

At any rate, on a side-note I mentioned Ultravox is about to release a brand new album in a short while, so for those who don't know who Ultravox is, it's these brilliant british guys:



---------- Post added at 15:39 ---------- Previous post was at 15:33 ----------

@FADEC; here she is, 46 years old, in Australia, singing live. She has absolutely no less of a voice, or a voice any more damaged, than any other person of that age.
That smoking takes your voice away is a myth.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-shBhMVbGs"]Whitney Houston "I Look To You" LIVE in Melbourne, Australia Rod Laver Arena 1st March 2010 - YouTube[/ame]
 

FADEC

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@FADEC; here she is, 46 years old, in Australia, singing live. She has absolutely no less of a voice, or a voice any more damaged, than any other person of that age. That smoking takes your voice away is a myth.

It wasn't smoking (cigarettes)...

Michael Jackson was about the same age and still had his voice. Phil Collins is even older and still has his voice. Just to name two.

This is no natural change:

 
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JEL

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30 years of hard work as a professional singer will make you sound like this (clips of Whitney, live, in 2010):

In retrospect though it might have been better had she chosen different songs at the later stage of her career. Songs that better suited a mature woman's voice. Like Leonard Cohen does. He couldn't possibly sing Whitney's most popular songs any better than she did at 47 years of age, or any less hoarse-sounding, and yet nobody claims HIS voice is destroyed.

So if Whitney did something wrong, it was perhaps to not shift to singing moody jazz songs instead of sticking with teenage/tween pop-hits that could only sound worse than when she was young (and thus only disappoint those who expected her to never change like all other people do over the years. Judge her fairly, by human standards, not by super-human standards).
 

FADEC

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I think that the best choice above all would have been to not consume alcohol, cokaine and crack excessively. This thread wouldn't even exist now.

She did a few "relatively" good performances during the recent years after she recovered so far. But it is no miracle that people and the press was not only disappointed but also shocked because of what she did to herself which everybody could see and hear.

Others became better over time. But without excessive drug abuse it is no miracle.

Phil Collins in 1982:


22 years later, at the age of 53:

 

JEL

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I think, in the spirit of ethical science, we should refrain from conjecture on what the exact cause was. That's the coroner's job to find out, not ours to guess.

And while Phil Collins is great, and I love the number you posted, it's not as challenging or straining to sing as much of Whitney's work. The tonal register and volume is lower in all the Phil Collins and Genesis songs I've heard, than in Whitney's. So it's really comparing apples with oranges.
 

Urwumpe

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And while Phil Collins is great, and I love the number you posted, it's not as challenging or straining to sing as much of Whitney's work. The tonal register and volume is lower in all the Phil Collins and Genesis songs I've heard, than in Whitney's. So it's really comparing apples with oranges.

Sure, point taken. But can you really proclaim, that age alone can damage the voice of a professional singer? That she looses everything that made her brilliance? I don't think so. you are right, if you claim that you have to sing different, if you have gravel in your voice. But even that is nothing that has a relation to age.


Or would you claim that, while he sure aged, Pavarotti really failed singing Nessum Dorma like Whitney Houston failed at One Moment in Time?


I think, your voice is first of all a muscle. You can train it, like you can train to run. Not all of us can even dream of running the 100m in less than ten seconds one day, but even when we get old, we can still beat the 15 seconds.

And all professional opera singers don't age that much. Sure you have a different work ethic there. But more important is, that such people train their voice and care extremely for it.
 

FADEC

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Sure, point taken. But can you really proclaim, that age alone can damage the voice of a professional singer?

And it was only ~15 years between her brilliant performances in the early to mid 90s until the catastrophic changes. That's not aging. Well, smoking crack can even make you lose your teeth amongst other byeffects...
 

SiameseCat

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And all professional opera singers don't age that much. Sure you have a different work ethic there. But more important is, that such people train their voice and care extremely for it.

Not always; a lot of opera singers (Maria Callas is the most famous example) burn their voices out pretty quickly.

Here's another example: Giuseppe di Stefano, singing the same song in the 1944 and then in the 1974.

You can destroy a voice just through bad technique; drugs may not have anything to do with it.
 
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FADEC

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I find it ironic in case people are seriously convinced that smoking crack did not do anything to Whitneys voice. It's like saying that CO2 does not have any effect to the climate.

She was addicted to drugs, slimmed down and ruined her voice. There is no way to deny it since the entire world knows it. The truth does hurt at times, in case one admits. This thread is the final result of her drug abuse, sadly.
 
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