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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cloud hangs over music world after Whitney Houston's sudden death


(CNN) -- Emotions were raw at the traditionally ebullient Grammy Awards show Sunday, with friends, colleagues and admirers expressing sadness about iconic singer Whitney Houston's sudden death.
Questions continue to swirl about why Houston died the previous day in her fourth floor room at a Beverly Hills, California, hotel. While an autopsy was complete as of late Sunday afternoon, Assistant Chief Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County Coroner's office said it could take six to eight weeks before the results are in on toxicology and other tests.
"There was no visible signs of trauma, and foul play is not suspected at this time," he said.
Whatever happened, the grief over the news about Houston -- whose soaring voice and enormous talent were clouded in recent years by her battles with drug addiction -- was evident Sunday on what is typically the biggest night on the music industry's calendar.
After a performance by Bruce Springsteen, host LL Cool J began his monologue by acknowledging "we've had a death in our family" and offering a prayer thanking God "for sharing our sister Whitney with us."
"Whitney, we will always love you," the actor and rapper said, repeating the title of one of Houston's most memorable singles. "We will honor you with the best way we know how: with a song."
Earlier, on the red carpet, Kim Burrell told CNN she'd exchanged voicemails with her good friend Houston shortly before her death, describing her as being "in great spirits, as always." She always thought of Houston as a "fighter" and a "survivor," which made the idea of her passing all the more difficult to comprehend.
"She's my sister and she'll always be my sister," said an emotional Burrell, herself a singer. "I love her dearly."
Burrell said she'd flown to California to join Houston in attending a pre-Grammy party Saturday night hosted by the songstress' longtime mentor, Clive Davis.
Houston never made it, dying at the age of 48.
Amid the outpouring of grief, Beverly Hills police said Houston's 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, was taken to Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, at about 11:15 a.m. Sunday. Her condition was not thought to be life-threatening, authorities said.
A source close to the family told CNN that by late Sunday afternoon the teenager was out of the hospital and would be heading back to New Jersey possibly as early as Sunday night. She was expected to go to the home of her grandmother, gospel singer Cissy Houston, in New Jersey, the source said.
Bobbi Kristina Brown was born during Houston's marriage to R&B singer Bobby Brown, which ended in divorce in 2007. Burrell said she was with the teenager late Saturday, admitting the girl had felt "overwhelmed" while expressing confidence that "she'll pull through."
The girl's father released a statement Sunday saying he was "deeply saddened" by his ex-wife's passing and expressing thanks for "all of the condolences."
Bobby Brown will not perform at a scheduled New Edition concert Sunday night in Nashville in the wake of his ex-wife's death, said Candy Lowd, a promoter for the concert.
The previous night, he was openly emotional during a concert in Southaven, Mississippi, said attendee and CNN iReporter Moshiu Knox, at one point asking people to say a prayer for his daughter, for his mother and "for me, because I'm going to need it."
"Bobby was crying during his performance and at one point had to walk off stage," Knox said.

Whitney Houston was found dead Saturday by her bodyguard on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hills hotel where only hours later she was to attend a pre-Grammy bash hosted by her longtime mentor, Clive Davis. She was 48. Here, Houston performs at a pre-Grammy event a year ago in Beverly Hills. Following is a a look at the singer's life through the years.Whitney Houston was found dead Saturday by her bodyguard on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hills hotel where only hours later she was to attend a pre-Grammy bash hosted by her longtime mentor, Clive Davis. She was 48. Here, Houston performs at a pre-Grammy event a year ago in Beverly Hills. Following is a a look at the singer's life through the years.
Whitney Houston through the years
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Whitney Houston through the yearsWhitney Houston through the years

Bobby Brown breaks down at concert

Whitney Houston's final performance

World saddened by Houston's death
Police and fire officials were called to Houston's room at 3:43 p.m. Saturday after her bodyguard found her unconscious body.
Winter, from the coroner's office, said she was found in a bathtub and removed before paramedics performed CPR.
Pill bottles were found at the scene, entertainment news website TMZ reported, citing "informed sources." CNN could not immediately confirm the TMZ report and Winter declined to comment.
At the request of Beverly Hills police, a "security hold" is in place regarding the case -- limiting what information can be released about the investigation, said Winter.
Houston's battles with drugs had long made headlines, but she was in the midst of a comeback, with a few shows scheduled and a movie in the works.
"I did really get the sense that she was really trying to make a comeback," megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes, executive producer of Houston's upcoming movie "Sparkle," said Sunday.
"And I think that the reason that so many people are devastated is because it is not just her music, but it is her misery that attached itself to the hearts of Americans, and we watched her struggle to regain her footing after a tumultuous relationship and bouts with abuse and substance abuse.
"I think the believability of her human struggle made her song and her acting that much more powerful because we recognize that often it is the caged bird that sings," Jakes said.
Fans: Houston's music spanned an era

Davis: I'm devastated by loss of Whitney

Dr. Drew on Whitney's sudden death

Celebrities mourn Whitney Houston

Mourning Whitney Houston online
A music industry executive, who recalled hearing two loud booms from the room below hers -- the room where, she later learned, Houston had died -- said she had seen Houston and Bobbi Kristina swimming in the hotel pool days before.
The two looked happy, she recalled, and Houston seemed healthy and beautiful. However, it remained unknown whether the singer had won her battle with substance abuse for good.
Houston's family said in a statement Sunday, "We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Whitney. This is an unimaginable tragedy and we will miss her terribly. We appreciate the outpouring of love and support from her fans and friends."
Music exec: Houston looked 'healthy and beautiful' days earlier
Houston had performed as late as Thursday night at a pre-Grammy event in the area, singing a raspy rendition of "Jesus Loves Me" with singer Kelly Price.
Grief flows at hotel where Houston died
Houston's fans remembered her in her prime on Sunday, when she reigned as pop queen during the 1980s, selling some 170 million albums.
"Perhaps now Whitney can rest in everlasting life without the harsh judgment that she felt in this world," said CNN iReporters Kimberly and Betty Kiel from Pearland, Texas.
And in the church where Houston grew up, the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, members gathered to honor her.
As a young girl, Houston grew sang solos in the choir at the church. Her mother served as director of sacred music at the church for 54 years and is still a member there.
Whitney was born in Newark in 1963 and was soloing in the junior choir by age 11, according to the All Music Guide. "Whitney's mother and cousins nurtured her passion for gospel music since birth," according to Houston's official website. Her cousins include singers Dee Dee Warwick and Dionne Warwick, and her godmother was Aretha Franklin.
Franklin told CNN on Sunday that the news of her goddaughter's death is "almost unbelievable."
"It's stunning, absolutely stunning," the iconic performer said. "I could not believe what I was reading ... It's a sad day, a very sad day."
Sorrow at church where Houston got her start
The Rev. Jesse Jackson was among those attending the service in Newark.
"You can't stop fate, and fate can't stop faith," he told reporters outside the church. "... You cannot explain the mysteries of death, but you can say that you look at the box score of life. Life is not judged by the home run hit in one inning, nor by the error in another inning, but the box score. When you look at the box score, Whitney is a winner. Her singing, her inspiring people around the world, it's been a great source of joy and uplift. And so we grieve, and yet we rejoice even in our grieving."
Houston's career: A regal rise, a tragic fall
Jackson said he spoke to Cissy Houston on Saturday night and Sunday morning and was heading to her home after the service.
"They're having to process this," he said of Houston's family. "This was not some long, debilitating sickness. This was sudden. And so when this happens, there's no rational explanation, just you have to cling to your faith and hold on until the morning comes."

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