Singer Whitney Houston, dead at 48

entertainment | Feb 11, 2012 | By Martin Barillas

Famed American singer, Whitney Houston, has passed away. She was 48 years old. Her press agent reported on February 11 that Houston had died but that the cause and location of her death are unknown.

Houston reigned as a leading voice in popular music until her voice and image were largely destroyed over reports of drug use, bizarre behaviour and a troubled marriage to fellow singer Bobbie Brown. From the mid-1980s and into the late 1990s, Houston was one of the best selling artists in the world. Her peerless and sometimes raspy voice stemmed from her background in Gospel music that was made into a form that was more easily marketable. Her singing career led her to acting: she starred in 'The Bodyguard' with Kevin Kostner, and also appeared in 'Waiting to Exhale.' She has been cited as an influence on other hit singers, such as Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera. 

Drug abuse paralleled the stunning decline of her career as the sales of her recordings slumped and the hits stopped hitting.  Once graced with a poised demeanor, Houston assumed wild behaviour and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, along with marijuana and pills. Her beautiful voice gained a raspy hoarseness as she failed to achieve the high notes that had characterized her style. 

In an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Houston once admitted "The biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy," as her then-husband Bobbie Brown sat by her side.
 
Houston sold more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone. She was the daughter of renowned gospel singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of 1960s pop diva Dionne Warwick, and the goddaughter of Motown Aretha Franklin. Starting at her church, Houston then backup for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling. 

Her hits included  "Saving All My Love for You" , "How Will I Know," ''You Give Good Love" and "The Greatest Love of All" . Her multiplatinum album, "Whitney," came out in 1987 and included hits like "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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