Remembering Whitney Houston

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First aired on Q (04/02/13)

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On February 11, 2012, one of the world's best-selling artists, Whitney Houston, died at the age of 48 after a long battle with drug addiction. Now, her mother and the woman who taught Whitney how to sing remembers her daughter in a revealing memoir, Remembering Whitney: My Story of Love, Loss and The Night the Music Stopped.

Cissy Houston spoke with Q's Jian Ghomeshi about how she remembers her talented, troubled daughter.

"Just like she was. The Whitney that I knew ... I knew her through all of it, when she was Whitney Houston and when she was just Nippy. I knew all about her," she said. "And, when she said I'll always love you, I know who she's talking to: me. Me and God."

Whitney was closest to her mother and her brothers, said Cissy, who is also a solo singer and has sang back-up vocals for several superstars. It was natural that she taught Whitney to sing after discovering the girl had an amazing talent.

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"She started singing, and screaming, and hollering when she was quite young," she said, referencing a five- or six-year-old Whitney.

Cissy taught her daughter how to deliver the story of a song, which she believes is why Whitney was so successful. "You have to feel what you do. It has to come from the heart," she said. "It just can't be a voice that you have. You have to be able to deliver it."

Whitney's talent was undeniable, but she never wanted stardom, her mother says -- she just wanted to sing. So Whitney became two different people: Whitney Houston the star and Whitney Houston the every woman. "Whitney Houston was a star, and sometimes she didn't like being Whitney Houston," said her mom. "She liked just being normal."

And Whitney paid the price for stardom. She had a public struggle with drugs, an abusive marriage and endless speculation about her close relationship with her friend and personal assistant, Robyn Crawford. Eventually, her drug habit spiralled out of control and led to her death.

Cissy's memoir is meant to set right the record about her daughter, putting an end to the negative rumours about Whitney Houston that have been splashed on the front page of tabloids.

"She was the most beautiful person. I'm not talking about outwardly, I'm talking about inside."



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