The story of Whitney Houston’s epic national anthem performance at 1991 Super Bowl

You have to understand.

You have to remember.

This is 1991. Before six people died in the World Trade Center bombing. Before 168 died in Oklahoma City. This is before 111 individuals were injured by a bomb made of nails and screws at the Atlanta Olympics. Before backpacks stuffed with pressure cookers and ball bearings blew limbs from people at the Boston Marathon.Think back.

This is the tippy-top of ’91. Way before Connecticut elementary school classrooms in Newtown were strewn with bullets. Before a Colorado theater was tear-gassed and shot up as The Dark Knight Rises began. Before 18 people were shot in an Arizona parking lot, along with a congresswoman who took a bullet in the back of the head. You have to understand. This is before a young married couple in combat gear killed 14 at a holiday party in San Bernardino.

This is a generation ago. A full decade before the United States of America came to a brief but full stop — 2,977 people dead and more than 6,000 injured in three states. This was before three New York firefighters raised a star-spangled banner amid the sooty rubble of ground zero. In 1991, ground zero was just downtown Manhattan. If you were alive — if you were over the age of 5 — you must make yourself remember the time. In 1991, people are jittery, but no one stands in line in bare feet at airports. There are no fingerprint scanners at ballparks.

This is, like, pre-everything. There’s no Facebook — barely a decent chat room to flirt in. The Berlin Wall? Buzz-sawed, climbed over and kicked through. Mandela is free, and Margaret Thatcher is out. This is one-way pager, peak Gen X quarter-life crisis time — and it wasn’t called a quarter-life crisis back then. North and Saint West’s late grandfather had not yet read his friend’s letter to the world: “Don’t feel sorry for me,” attorney Robert Kardashian said to flashing bulbs. “Please think of the real O.J. [Simpson] and not this lost person.” This is the year Mae Jemison preps for the Endeavour, Michael Jordan is ascendant and In Living Color and Twin Peaks stamp the kids who make prestige TV glow in 2016. Beyonce is in elementary school. Steph and Seth Curry are in a Charlotte playpen. Barack Obama is the first black president — of Harvard Law Review. The (pre)cursors are blinking.

MORE…

Dionne Warwick: dizzying downfall of a bankrupt diva

Her name is among the brightest in recording industry history, her songs providing the soundtrack for a generation and earning her a place as one of the most successful hit-makers of all time.

After more than five decades of music-making that won her five Grammy awards, more than 60 charted singles and global album sales totalling more than 100 million copies, Dionne Warwick might have been assumed to have earned herself a comfortable retirement.

More….

Whitney Houston’ had taken cocaine before accidentally drowning in her bath’

The 48-year-old singer was found submerged in a tub in her room at the Beverly Hilton on Feb 12, the night before the Grammy Awards. The release of autopsy findings ends weeks of speculation about what killed her.

Los Angeles County Coroner’s spokesman Craig Harvey said the cause of death was accidental drowning due to the effects of heart disease and cocaine use.

Cocaine and its byproducts were found in her system, and it was listed as a contributing factor in her death. He said the results indicated Houston was a chronic cocaine user.

He said toxicology tests also showed cannabis, the anti-anxiety medication Xanax, a muscle relaxant Flexeril, and the anti-histamine Benadryl in Houston’s system, but found that they did not contribute to her death.

No trauma or foul play were suspected in the entertainer’s death, he said.

Read more….

‘I look at Amy or Whitney and think, that could have been me’

Fame can kill young women like Katie Melua, and she knows it. “There is a loneliness at the centre of it all, a sense of isolation,” says the singer, who became famous at the age of 19. “You can’t cope, but you can’t say so because the life is what you always wanted.”

Katie became a national sweetheart and sold millions of records as the girl with the big eyes and ringlets who sang jazzy ballads such as Nine Million Bicycles and The Closest Thing to Crazy in a warm, husky voice. Then came a sudden personal crisis two years ago, that led to Melua being briefly hospitalised. “I had a breakdown and I had to drop out for a while.”

Now she is about to release a comeback album called Secret Symphony and looks healthy and happy at her flat in west London. But Melua knows the stakes are high. Last week, the father of the late Amy Winehouse picked up a posthumous Grammy for his daughter, who was once at the same performing arts school as Melua. “She was a troubled soul.”

Read more….

Whitney Houston funeral: tears and ‘Hallelujahs’

Balloons and flowers were tied to the railings of the New Hope Baptist Church, in Newark, New Jersey, as if for a party. The massive choir wore white and stood to start the service with an electrifying gospel song that said, “Gratefulness is flowing from my heart…”

Millions were watching on television, through a single camera in the church. Mariah Carey was there alongside Oprah Winfrey and Queen Latifah. Houston’s godmother Aretha Franklin had been due to sing but was too ill even to attend. Stevie Wonder sang ‘Love’s In Need Of Love Today’ and said: “In my fantasy world, I had a little crush on Whitney, okay?”

Read more….

Hearse bearing Whitney Houston arrives at church

(CBS/AP) NEWARK, N.J. – Guests have begun to arrive Saturday morning for the private, invitation-only funeral of Whitney Houston at the New Hope Baptist Church, where Houston wowed the congregation with her powerful voice even as a young girl.

A hearse carrying the singer’s body arrived there a short time ago.

To the world, Whitney Houston was the pop queen with the perfect voice, the dazzling diva with regal beauty, a troubled superstar suffering from addiction and, finally, another victim of the dark side of fame.

To her family and friends, she was just “Nippy.” A nickname given to Houston when she was a child, it stuck with her through adulthood and, later, would become the name of one of her companies. To them, she was a sister, a friend, a daughter, and a mother.

While the world remembers Houston from afar, those closest to her are gathering Saturday for a private funeral service to say goodbye.

Read more….

Newark prepares for Whitney Houston’s funeral

Once prosperous with a strong middle class and lively entertainment scene, the Newark of today has fallen on hard times, scarred by violence and gripped by the twin scourges of drugs and poverty.

It is an apt reflection of the life of the pop golden girl who had it all, only to throw it all away on a physically abusive marriage, substance abuse and ultimately death in a Los Angeles hotel room at the age of only 48.

But for Houston’s family, there was nowhere the self-proclaimed “Jersey girl” could be laid to rest other than the place where she began her love affair with music.

The private, invitation-only ceremony will be held at the New Hope Baptist Church in downtown Newark, close to the public housing projects where Houston lived for the first four years of her life.

Even after the family moved away from the area following the devastating Newark riots of 1967, Houston’s mother Cissy, a well-known blues and gospel singer, continued to lead the choir at the church, and it was here that Houston first began to sing seriously, joining the junior gospel choir at the age of 11.

Read more….

Whitney Houston may have died of drink and prescription drugs, not drowning

The singer’s family were told by officials that she did not have enough water in her lungs to immediately conclude that drowning was the cause of death.

She had taken a combination of the sedative Xanax and other prescription drugs with alcohol, and could have died before her head went under the water.

Houston had drunk alcohol shortly before getting into the bath. Photographs of her room, obtained by TMZ, showed her final meal which included an opened Heineken can and an empty glass of champagne.

She had eaten a hamburger, then taken a turkey sandwich and jalapeno peppers on a tray with her into the bathroom, apparently intending to eat them in the bath.

A police source told celebrity website TMZ it was possible Houston suffered a heart attack caused by a reaction to medication, but it was too early to definitively decide what killed her.

Read more….

Whitney Houston and crack cocaine: why this addiction is so desperately hard to break

Whether Whitney Houston died as a direct result of taking crack cocaine isn’t clear; but no one – least of all, herself – was in any doubt that her self-confessed crack addiction destroyed her career. Over the years her fans have desperately wanted her to clean up her act for good. Perhaps if they knew more about crack they would understand why that was unlikely to happen.

I’ve spent the last 18 months working on The Fix, a book about the spread of addiction in society. My argument is that millions of ordinary people, not just celebrities, drunks or junkies, feel the need to “fix” their moods in response to a deadly combination of accelerating work pressure and accelerating temptation. The world around us is actually changing our brains.

Put simply, our “wanting” impulses and our “liking” impulses are not the same thing. Environmental cues increase the flow of the neurotransmitter dopamine in our brains. Dopamine controls desire or “wanting”; the subsequent experience of pleasure #”liking”# also involves dopamine, but not to such a great extent. Dopamine helps explain why our mouths water at the thought of food; why we feel excited at the prospect of going out with friends; why we say yes to another glass of wine

Read more….