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.