DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Whitney Houston (aged 48)
American singer, actress, model, and record producer
Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American singer and actress. She was cited as the most awarded female artist of all time by Guinness World Records and remains one of the best-selling music artists of all time with 200 million records sold worldwide. She released seven studio albums and two soundtrack albums, all of which have been certified diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Houston’s crossover appeal on the popular music charts—as well as her prominence on MTV, starting with her video for “How Will I Know”—influenced several African-American women artists who followed in her footsteps.
DEATH: Houston reportedly appeared “disheveled” and “erratic” in the days immediately prior to her death. On Thursday, February 9, 2012, Houston visited singers Brandy and Monica, together with Clive Davis, at their rehearsals for Davis’ pre-Grammy Awards party at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. That same day, she made her last public performance when she joined Kelly Priceon stage in Hollywood, California and sang “Jesus Loves Me”.
Two days later, on February 11, Houston was found unconscious in Suite 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, submerged in the bathtub. Beverly Hills paramedics arrived at approximately 3:30 p.m., found Houston unresponsive, and performed CPR. Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. PST. The cause of death was not immediately known;local police said there were “no obvious signs of criminal intent”. On March 22, 2012, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office reported that Houston’s death was caused by drowning and the “effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaineuse”. The office stated the amount of cocaine found in Houston’s body indicated that she used the substance shortly before her death.Toxicology results revealed additional drugs in her system: diphenhydramine (Benadryl), alprazolam(Xanax), cannabis and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril).The manner of death was listed as an “accident”.
An invitation-only memorial service was held for Houston on Saturday, February 18, 2012, at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. The service was scheduled for two hours, but lasted four. Among those who performed at the funeral were Stevie Wonder (rewritten version of “Ribbon in the Sky”, and “Love’s in Need of Love Today”), CeCe Winans (“Don’t Cry”, and “Jesus Loves Me”), Alicia Keys (“Send Me an Angel”), Kim Burrell (rewritten version of “A Change Is Gonna Come”), and R. Kelly (“I Look to You”). The performances were interspersed with hymns by the church choir and remarks by Clive Davis, Houston’s record producer; Kevin Costner; Rickey Minor, her music director; her cousin, Dionne Warwick; and Ray Watson, her security guard for the past 11 years. Aretha Franklin was listed on the program and was expected to sing, but was unable to attend the service. Bobby Brown, Houston’s ex-husband, was also invited to the funeral but he left shortly after the service began. Houston was buried on February 19, 2012, in Fairview Cemetery, in Westfield, New Jersey, next to her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003. In June 2012, the McDonald’s Gospelfest in Newark became a tribute to Houston.