After nearly three decades of chart-topping hits, blockbuster movies and iconic live performances, the spotlight finally went out on superstar Whitney Houston two years ago Feb. 11.
“Nippy,” as her friends and family called her, tragically passed away at the Beverly Hilton Hotel the night before the 2012 Grammy Awards after accidentally drowning in her hotel bathtub.
Houston’s autopsy later revealed her drowning could have been caused by drugs, including her long-time adversary, cocaine, in addition to a pre-existing heart disease.
Although this news was painful, it was not unexpected.
For years, the world watched as Houston spiraled from record-breaking powerhouse vocalist to unemployed raspy junkie.
Houston, who is the most-awarded female artist of all time, according to Guinness World Records, was perhaps best known for her 1993 single and Dolly Parton cover, “I Will Always Love You,” where her mezzo-soprano soared.
Also nicknamed “The Voice,” Houston holds quite a few records, including most consecutive No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, best-selling debut album by a female artist at the time of its release (“Whitney Houston,” 1985), as well as the only artist to turn the “Star Spangled Banner” into a Billboard top-20 hit following her memorable rendition during the 1991 Super Bowl.
Despite selling more than 170 million records and starring in four movies (“The Bodyguard,” 1992, “Waiting to Exhale,” 1995, “The Preacher’s Wife,” 1996 and “Sparkle,” 2012), Houston turned to drugs to cope with the pressures that often come with groundbreaking success.
The world first began to notice Houston’s fall from grace in the early 2000s after missed appearances, troubles with the law and an appearance on the “Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special” in 2001, where Houston’s skeleton-like frame stole the show.
In a 2002 “Primetime” exclusive with Diane Sawyer, Houston denied drug use was to blame for her fragility, and she coined her infamous phrase, “Crack is whack.”
It wasn’t until 2009 that Houston finally came clean about her years of cocaine use and abusive marriage to singer Bobby Brown during “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Houston’s tell-all interview was on the eve of her comeback, where she hoped to restore her once legendary career with the 2009 release of the album “I Look to You.”
Although the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, Houston’s 2010 Nothing But Love world tour was less than revitalizing to critics because of her raspier voice and fuller figure.
Still, Houston tried to prove the world she was back when she starred as Emma Williams in “Sparkle,” a remake of the 1976 movie of the same title about three sisters trying to make it as singers in the 1960s.
Even though Houston wasn’t alive to see her final film released, her legacy of perseverance will be preserved in her last work for forever.
In fact, Houston’s final push to a comeback in the late 2000s says a lot about how we will remember her.
Think about it.
Houston was a black girl from Newark, N.J., who grew up to become one of the most successful artists of all time. Unlike many performers today, Houston’s mesmerizing voice and stunning natural beauty were enough to inspire a generation. Houston never had to take off her clothes, never had to use auto-tune and never put on distasteful performances to gain success. Houston used her gift to sing to the world about admirable themes such as love, faith and perseverance.
To many, Houston was seen as perfect, before her fall to drugs.
The pressure of maintaining record-breaking accomplishments and vocal perfection by topping every previous success is unimaginable.
Despite having a more seasoned voice that was unable to hit as many high notes in her later years, Houston was a true champion for continuing on with her career, despite what critics had to say.
This persistence is what made Houston great, even though she ultimately fell to her demons.
Her fans will hopefully not only remember her for her voice, but also for her humanness that was gained from falling from the very top and mustering up the courage to get back up again.
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