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The gospel singer Be Be Winans first heard it when Whitney was opening for the singer Jeffrey Osborne.
“I went backstage, and we met, and I said, ‘I want to know what church you come from, because, singing the way you sing, you come from somebody’s church,’ ” recalled Winans. ’ ”New Hope Baptist Church sits at 106 Sussex Avenue in Newark, New Jersey. That’s what I wanted.” Across the street from the church was the now defunct James M.
In the Beverly Hilton on February 11, a Houston aide told a VH1 crew waiting for an interview, “Whitney can’t make it . The last days of Whitney Houston began long before her arrival in Los Angeles.
It was all about the voice, “the voice of our time,” as the songwriter Diane Warren once called it.
The handstands by the pool, they said, were not the antics of an addict but proof of her newfound stamina, her dedication to daily exercise, and a vow to quit smoking. Also, she had reportedly worked again with Warren Boyd, her drug counselor over the years. “The family wanted to maybe spend a few minutes with her before we loaded her off,” he told me.
According to the producer Harvey Mason Jr., she was on time at the studio the Tuesday night before her death to record one side of a duet called “Celebrate” with the winner Jordin Sparks, and she played a CD of the song for Clive Davis at the Beverly Hills Hotel. But it didn’t happen, “because Bobbi Kristina wound up going to the hospital,” he said, after reportedly becoming “hysterical, exhausted, and inconsolable.” He added, “And Pat Houston [Whitney’s manager and sister-in-law] had kind of an anxiety attack.”While Houston’s family would insist that they had seen no evidence of her recent drug use, members of Bobby Brown’s family went on television to tell a different story.
“As a young girl back in the 70s there was the black-exploitation movie thing,” she later said.When talent scouts began to circle the teenage Whitney, Cissy told them it was too soon.By 18, however, after graduating from an all-girls Catholic high school, Whitney was ready.After Whitney’s death, the singer Chaka Khan, a friend and fellow recovering addict, spoke out about the “vampires” of the “ugly ass” music business, lambasting all those who had allowed Houston, only nine months out of rehab, to arrive in the city of temptation a week before Davis’s party: “Whoever flew her out to perform at that party should’ve provided someone to be there, to somehow keep the riffraff from out of the situation, to keep some of the dangerous people away.” In the weeks that followed, a portrait of Whitney’s sudden relapse began to emerge.She had been spotted drinking vodka in Hollywood nightclubs to celebrate the 31st birthday of her alleged boyfriend, the singer-actor Willie “Ray J” Norwood, who was famous for being Kim Kardashian’s partner on an explicit 2007 sex tape.