“The Voice”, 200 million records sold worldwide, winner of 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards, and holder of 28 Guinness World Records; the beloved Whitney Houston passed away a decade ago.
Houston, 48, suffered an accidental drowning in a hotel bathtub due to complications involving her cocaine addiction worsening her heart trouble. In the days leading up to her death, the Grammy Hall of Famer was reportedly acting abnormal and visibly distraught. However, two days before her shocking death, Kelly Price, famed gospel singer, and Houston, sang “Jesus Loves Me” on stage in Hollywood. That morning (Houston most always slept through the morning), Houston showed up to rehearsal for Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy bash, where the “Greatest Love of All” singer was scheduled to perform. Rickey Minor, Houston’s longtime musical director, first noticed something was off just because of her early arrival. Talking to Houston, Rickey noticed that Houston was soaking wet, dripping. When questioned, Houston told Rickey that she had been swimming to get in shape and to build strength in her lungs. Rickey was aware of Houston’s previous drug addiction, and worried she was using again.
At age 14 was the first time Houston had sampled cocaine, best friend of Whitney, Robyn Crawford reveals. Crawford had grown up with Houston as teenagers when they met at summer camp, both counselors. Crawford tells People Magazine that they had smoked marijuana together ever since they met at camp in 1980. The two were inseparable; they did everything and went everywhere together, all the time. Houston had her mind set on superstardom, and Crawford supported her every step of the way. Houston, who Crawford had watched become addicted to cocaine without realization, would tell Crawford, “Cocaine can’t go where we’re going.”
The cocaine went with them where they were going. Crawford, who had no problem at all stopping, would try to convince Houston to stop as well. She would tell Crawford “I’m going to stop, I’m just not ready yet.”
Marrying Grammy winning singer songwriter Bobby Brown was the turning point in Houston’s life. Crawford tells People Magazine that following their marriage, Houston became distant, most likely due to a multitude of circumstances involving her career, such as working until exhaustion, constant touring, etc., as well as standards held by her race and sex. Meanwhile, Houston is addicted to cocaine. Crawford described Houston’s situation as “…a big machine and it never stopped,” relating to the huge amount of pressure her best friend is constantly under.
Crawford quit her job as Houston’s creative director in 2000, after an incident left Whitney’s best friend unable to fight for her any longer. Crawford and John Houston, Whitney’s father, confronted her about her addiction, to which she replied, “I’m not ready to go, I don’t want to go,” when asked to attend rehab in Silver Hill, Connecticut. Crawford, drained and hopeless, resigned. “I had done all I could do,” Crawford says, “and for the first time I realized that I needed to save myself.”
A few years after the departure of Crawford, Houston went public about her fight with addiction, which didn’t help, as Houston felt added weight to her shoulders. Houston finally entered an addiction treatment center, for the first time in 2004, and the last in 2011. Houston and Brown divorced in 2007 after a supposed toxic and “dangerous” marriage.
In the following 9 months after leaving her third and last treatment, Houston relapsed, for an extended period of time. Houston’s first and second visits to the treatment center were both followed by a relapse, and another trip to rehab. Houston’s third was followed by not only an extended relapse, but problems she’d been dealing with for years: speculation about her sexuality, racism, sexism, harassment in the workplace, family issues, and a grand supply of alcohol and various drugs to help her cope with it all. 9 months after her last rehab exit, Houston got on a plane and was flown to Los Angeles a week before the Grammys, to prepare for a pre-Grammy award show. Houston died in her hotel room bathtub on February 11th, 2012, with traces of marijuana, xanax, benadryl, cocaine, and flexeril found in her body during the autopsy, according to toxicology reports. Multiple liquor bottles were also found littering the hotel room.
Various celebrities spoke on Houston’s unexpected death. Chaka Khan, American singer and lifelong friend of Houston, believes that this loss could have been easily prevented, explaining how Houston’s addiction wasn’t taken seriously enough; Houston had no caretakers and no one to help her in the workplace. Houston’s manager, Clive Davis, has been partially put to blame for Houston’s death, as he disrespected her human rights and treated her like a doll. Davis attempted to perfect Houston in his eyes, as the “Princess of Pop”, a pressuring role to fit. Davis also allegedly limited Houston’s interviews because of her skin color.
Houston, battered and beaten mentally by the constant pressures of the superstardom she once dreamed of, could have avoided her untimely death. Although Houston was left alone on a multitude of drugs, the scenario could have been avoided altogether, if she was cared for properly, held accountable, treated like a human instead of a pet, Houston could very much possibly be alive and well today. Khan appropriately reacted to the mishandling of Houston’s life and career. Khan, a former addict as well, went public, and rightfully called out the music industry and Houston’s team specifically, calling them vampires, scolding them for their careless behavior that cost Houston her life, along with one of the world’s most famous voices, a true advocate for strong black women facing adversity.