Whitney Houston biopic 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' announced
(Credit: Mark Kettenhofen)

The tragic death of Whitney Houston

“I’m a person who has life and wants to live, and always have.” – Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston, American singer-songwriter and considered to be the ‘Queen of Pop’, had a voice unlike any other. Born and brought up in a family where music played a big role in their lives, Houston’s abilities as a musician were incomparable. To this day, Whitney Houston’s artistic genius remains unparalleled, and her compelling voice continues to be cherished amongst a wide range of audience, including the younger generations.

For such a celebrated musician, Houston’s life was cut dismally short. She died a tragic death in 2012 at the age of 49. The news of her death was sudden and came as a shock at a time when nobody expected it, especially under the circumstances it took place. It was a tragic turn of events, and it left the world of music completely shook.

We have seen too many instances of how drug abuse often overtakes artists who work day in and day out within the entertainment industry. Houston was no different. Her struggle with drugs, alcoholism and smoking as well as her declining health affected her all through her career until one day it reached a point of no return.

It was the day before the Grammy Awards were scheduled in February 2012 when things took a turn for the worst. On 11th Feb 2012, musical personalities made their way to the star-studded city of Los Angeles to attend the Grammys. Houston, along with an entourage of her family and friends, checked into the Beverly Hilton hotel. Every year, on the day before the Grammys, Clive Davis, who was also Houston’s mentor, threw a pre-Gram party. Making preparations for the party that night, Houston’s assistant, Mary Jones, laid out her dress on the bed for her and left the room soon after. What transpired during the time that Jones left the room only to return to an unconscious Houston lying face down in a water-filled bathtub was something solely the coroner’s report could shed light upon. Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55pm the same day on the spot.

The police found an open champagne bottle and a spoon containing a “white crystal-like substance” close to her. There was also a plethora of medications that Houston was using, including an anti-depressant med, a muscle relaxant and some allergy meds which were also found in her system during the autopsy. When the coroner’s report came in several weeks later, it attributed Houston’s death to heart disease, use of cocaine and accidental drowning. The coroner further stated that Houston was suffering from a mild case of emphysema – a condition which affected the lungs and resulted in shortness of breath – which was a cause of the steady loss of her beautiful, passionate voice that had the power to leave people completely mesmerized.

Multiple speculations existed regarding Houston’s personal life, many of which were uncovered in films, documentaries and biopics made on her life behind the camera, some being released after Houston’s death. But what remained constant and undeterred among everything else was Houston’s musical prowess, and her soulful melodic voice.

For an acclaimed artist, it often becomes challenging to find stability between showcasing talent and keeping grounded amongst the commotion that comes hand in hand with fame. With all the positives aspects of celebrity, there also comes the negative facets. A glaring lack of privacy, always being in the spotlight and being judged incessantly can get too much. It is in moments like these that the stars resort to finding an escape from this commotion.

All too often, the escape comes in the form of drugs or alcohol which, as history shows, often leads to perilous consequences. And for a lot of celebrities, addiction creeps quietly and all-at-once into their lives and ravages them. So many icons of popular culture have lost their lives over addiction, accidentally or otherwise. Whitney Houston was one of the many such examples of this kind of a tragedy. However, it is true that addiction can affect anybody, not just the familiar faces on television screens, and it is the underlying societal issue that is the real concern.

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