Whitney Houston WireImage/Tibrina HobsonToo many of us—myself included—are guilty of making insensitive jokes about the demise of Whitney Houston, her frail frame, loss of one of pop's purest voices, and battle with drugs.
But none of us are laughing now.
On Saturday, Houston's publicist confirmed to the Associated Press that the award-winning "I Will Always Love You" singer died. She was 48. The timing of her death, the eve of the Grammys, the biggest music event of the year, makes the horrible news even more tragic. According to CNN, Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. PT at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The Beverly Hilton is the venue for the music industry's most prestigious pre-Grammy party hosted by veteran executive Clive Davis, who discovered Houston.
In an industry flooded with novelty artists, who disappear after scoring one hit, Houston's longevity was unquestioned when she released her debut single, the ballad "You Give Good Love" in February 1985. The song's soothing opening ad-libs displayed her soulful roots while also celebrating her pop sensibilities.
Houston's sound was distinct, and clearly separated her from the funk-laden stylings of the era's other female R&B singers. Plus, she was a model who appeared in "Glamour" and "Cosmopolitan" magazines.
Houston's sound made sense when considering her pedigree. She was the perfect melding of the styles of her mother, gospel singer Cissy Houston; cousin, 1960s pop singer Dionne Warwick; and godmother, queen of soul Aretha Franklin.
Houston's self-titled debut album topped the charts and was certified diamond. Her career was impenetrable throughout the release of several follow up albums, 1987's "Whitney," 1990's "I'm Your Baby Tonight," and 1992's "The Bodyguard" soundtrack.
Houston's fans were concerned when she married R&B bad boy Bobby Brown in 1992, but they professed their happiness.
By the late 1990s, Houston's drug problems began to become tabloid fodder. In a 2002 interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Houston admitted to her struggles, but maintained that she was doing fine.
The public received its first real glimpse of Houston behind-the-scenes in 2004 when she appeared on Brown's reality series "Being Bobby Brown." The bad publicity move depicted Houston as profane, combative, and delusional, seemingly supporting the behavior of someone on drugs.
Among the saddest indications of Houston's fall was her 2009 comeback album, "I Look To You." While the album received positive reviews, her live performances signaled that the damage to her voice was beyond repair.
The world has lost a musical legend, we've seen many performers struggle and lose the fight with their demons, but it doesn't make us any less enchanted by what they contributed, especially when at their best. RIP Whitney Houston. Rest. In. Peace. At. Last.
I just watched the video you have posted of her singing the National Anthem, what passion and happiness she exudes!! I got chills watching her, the world has lost an amazing entertainer. Sadness for her family.
Maybe we should stop making fun of people, celebrities included, then we wouldn't need to make comments like "But none of us are laughing now." The world would be a much better place. Our culture of ridicule and insult humor only makes our "civilization" a toxic one.
Terrible tragedy... She struggled with drugs for much of her later life but you always rooted for her and hoped she would pull her life back together again. An amazingly talented gifted voice. Such a waste.