Whitney Houston, pop singing superstar, dead at 48

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Whitney Houston

Whit­ney Houston

Pop music queen Whit­ney Hous­ton, often referred to as “The Voice” in recog­ni­tion of her astound­ing vocal tal­ent until drugs ruined her career, has died, pub­li­cist Kris­ten Fos­ter said Sat­ur­day. She was 48.

Fos­ter said that the cause of the singer’s death was unknown.

Lt. Mark Rosen of the Bev­erly Hills, Cal­i­for­nia police told reporters out­side the Bev­erly Hilton that Hous­ton was pro­nounced dead at 3:55 p.m. in her room on the hotel’s fourth floor. Bev­erly Hills detec­tives were inves­ti­gat­ing, Rosen said: “There were no obvi­ous signs of any crim­i­nal intent.”

Houston’s death came on the eve of the Grammy Awards, the ulti­mate show­case for music, where she was often honored.

She and Mariah Carey sang “When You Believe,” heard on the sound­track of the 1998 Dream­Works ani­mated fea­ture film The Prince Of Egypt. Writ­ten by Stephen Schwartz, it won sev­eral awards; it won an Oscar and was nom­i­nated for a Golden Globe for best orig­i­nal song.

Her per­for­mance of “You Give Good Love” was part of the sound­track of the 1986 TV spe­cial Disney’s DTV Valen­tine. And in 1998, her per­for­mance of Dolly Parton’s tune “I Will Always Love You” was heard on the Simp­sons episode May­ored To The Mob.

Debra Wil­son voiced her in Francine’s Flash­back, a 2005 episode of Amer­i­can Dad!, and in Brian’s Got a Brand New Bag, a 2009 episode of Fam­ily Guy. Hous­ton also was depicted in Episode 101 of Star­veil­lance (2007).

A for­mer model, Whit­ney Hous­ton had her image dam­aged by odd behav­ior and a rocky mar­riage to singer Bobby Brown. She had con­fessed to abus­ing cocaine, mar­i­juana and pills.

But from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world’s best-selling record­ing artists. Whit­ney, her 1987 album, was the first female album to debut at #1 on the Bill­board charts.

Her seem­ingly effort­less vocals had their ori­gins in the black church, but appealed to audi­ences of all races.

An actress as well, she starred in such hits as The Body­guard and Wait­ing to Exhale.

Born in Newark, New Jer­sey on August 9, 1963, Whit­ney Eliz­a­beth Hous­ton was the daugh­ter of gospel-blues singer Cissy Hous­ton. She was the cousin of another famed singer, Dionne Warwick.

Nick­named “Nippy” and “The Prom Queen of Soul,” she influ­enced many younger singers, rang­ing from Christina Aguil­era to Mariah Carey. In fact, many thought that Carey’s singing actu­ally was Houston’s.

Late in Houston’s career, drugs had their effect. Her voice sounded raspy, the hits ended, album sales fell. Once look­ing calm, she devel­oped a wild demeanor. Her image wasn’t helped by strange pub­lic appear­ances and trips to rehab.

Whit­ney Hous­ton was mar­ried to Brown from 1992 until their well-publicized divorce in 2007. She is sur­vived by daugh­ter Bobbi Kristina Brown, her mother, and broth­ers Michael and Gary.

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