Whitney Houston, who soared to the highest reaches of music with a powerful yet angelic voice, has been found dead. She was 48. Publicist Kristen Foster confirmed the death, but other details were not readily available.
The superstar singer was spotted in Hollywood Thursday night (Feb. 9) looking dazed and sweating profusely. She had been a guest at the Kelly Price & Friends Unplugged: For The Love Of R&B Grammy Party at Tru Hollywood and had performed during the night.
Whitney had what is believed to be blood dripping down her leg and scratches on her wrist when she was spotted leaving. She had to be escorted from the club to her car, according to reports, and appeared agitated and confused.
She was among the A-list performers planning to attend veteran music mogul Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy party Saturday at the Beverly Hilton hotel.
Her personal life, however, remained troubled. Houston was facing foreclosure on her 10-acre New Jersey mansion. She was reportedly delinquent on $1 million in mortgage payments and taxes and was said to be near bankrupt after squandering her fortune.
Her plight was a far cry from the peak of her career, which not only spanned music but movies in the 1980s and early 1990s. Her 1992 romantic-thriller, “The Bodyguard” with Kevin Costner, cemented her as a major star. Costner played a former Secret Service Agent turned bodyguard who is hired to protect Houston’s character, a music star, from a stalker. The two fall in love.
On stage, she sang powerfully, her style rooted in the gospel choirs of her church. She was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of 1960s pop diva Dionne Warwick and the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin.
Her hits included “How Will I Know,” “Saving All My Love for You” and “I Will Always Love You.” She won multiple Grammys including album and record of the year.
But years of drug abuse and an addiction to crack cocaine took its toll on her career, also marked by a ruinous marriage to singer Bobby Brown.
Houston separated from Brown in September 2006, after years of controversy and allegations of heavy drug use. Her divorce was granted in 2007. But Brown continued to pursue her with legal claims that were eventually dismissed.
Houston was discovered by music mogul Davis, who has fostered the rise of so many acts. After she hit bottom, he engineered her comeback, which led to her 2009 album I Look to You. It proved she still had pulling power.
The album hit No. 1 on the pop charts and sold more than 300,000 copies the first week. She is the only artist ever to produce seven consecutive multiplatinum albums, beating even the Beatles. Worldwide she sold 140 million albums and 50 million singles.
Her mother staged a 2009 intervention to get her into rehab.
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.
Check out the clip below of Whitney singing on Friday night: