Whitney Houston Is Dead

Whitney Houston‘s “I Will Always Love You” was the best-selling single by a female artist in music history, and if you listened to The Bodyguard soundtrack on repeat in 1992, as I did, then you’re probably hearing it over and over and over again in your head right now, as I am, because Whitney Houston died today.

The 48-year-old singer was found dead by her bodyguard this afternoon in her hotel room at the Beverly Hills Hilton. An event was being held tonight at the hotel to celebrate tomorrow’s 54th Annual Grammy Awards. Houston herself performed at a pre-Grammy event on Thursday night.

Whitney Houston was born on August 9, 1963 in Newark, New Jersey, the daughter of an Army serviceman/entertainment executive and a gospel singer. Dionne Warwick was her cousin and Aretha Franklin was her godmother. Of Houston’s death, Franklin says, “I just can’t talk about it now. It’s so stunning and unbelievable. I couldn’t believe what I was reading coming across the TV screen. My heart goes out to Cissy (Houston’s mother), her daughter Bobbi Kris, her family and Bobby (Brown).”

Houston toured nightclubs with her mother as a teenager and at 15 was singing backup on Chaka Khan‘s “I’m Every Woman.” While continuing to sing and perform, Whitney went on to become one of the most popular teen models of her time, with spreads in Glamour and Cosmopolitan, amongst others. In 1983, Artista’s legendary Clive Davis saw Houston performing in a nightclub and offered her a worldwide recording contract. She released her debut album in 1985.

By 2010, Houston had won 415 awards, including 2 Emmys, 6 Grammys, 30 Billboard Music Awards and 22 American Music Awards.

Between 1985 and 2010, her entire career happened, and maybe I will write about it, I don’t know — right now I just wanna do the same thing you wanna do, which is watch “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

I was 11 when Rebecca Glowaki performed her dance to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” for me in her basement in Concord, Massachusetts. She was on some kind of dance team, one of those things. Sometimes she would lock me in her basement, which in retrospect was fucked up but at the time was thrilling. It was carpeted and cold and I was totally riveted by her routine, especially at the end, when the tape deck abruptly clicked off, and Rebecca told me, “And then we kissed,” talking about herself and her dance partner, who had been dancing with her in her imagination throughout the entire routine, apparently. I was so blown away by all of it — how good she could dance, how much I loved the fuck out of that song and how much I honestly truly felt all the time that I indeed wanted to dance with somebody who loved me, and how insane it was that I knew somebody who had kissed somebody. I know it was a fun pop song about parties and mini-skirts and springy curly hair and shimmery purple eyeshadow, but for me it was a song about wanting to dance with somebody who loved me. It just-so-happened to be fun, too, which made wanting that seem fun. It made wanting feel fun, just like “I Will Always Love You” made loving somebody no matter what seem romantic instead of crazy and just like “How Will I Know” made feeling insecure about whether or not somebody loved you seem intriguing and not pathetic. She just had a really beautiful voice that made everything seem so huge and epic but also, I guess — “heartfelt.” That’s a good word for the things she did. Heartfelt. Her heart felt.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3223 articles for us.


  1. gosh i forgot so much…. i mean i remember her amazing voice, but i forgot how young she was. i was too young to appreciate why everyone was so surprised by her marriage to bobby. but seeing that video again reminds me of how you felt that she was the girl next door. wow her, micheal jackson, mariah carey, janet jackson.this was my youth before i knew of my queer identity. what a loss….

  2. Whitney had a talent like no other. I’ve been a fan all my life – this news was so tough to hear.

    Thanks for posting, Riese.

  3. Dammit!!!Ugh! *Feelings*

    Whitney meant the world to my younger sister. She meant so much that I remember in 11th grade, my sister wrote a biography about her. I remember my sister telling me how she was a model before singing, lesbian rumors; how Osama Bin Laden was willing to break it “color rule” for Whitney *fucking* Huston; she was my sister’s hero.

    I was in a Nirvana, Sound Garden and Alice in Chains stage but I always respected Whitney, I respected the fact her voice was literally enough to demand attention. Her voice was legit a instrument of some sorts. I remember watching “The Bodyguard” omg I remember having those “weird” gay feelings when the whole sword easily cutting the silk scarves, *sigh*, and goodness I was on the SAME PAGE with Kevin (I forget his last name) watching the “I Want to Run to You” music video. I remember the cacophony of fans screaming in her performance of “Queen of the Night”, fuck I remember her reminding me of Storm from X-men mixed with the attitude of Grave Jones. She was beautiful, I always felt that her beauty matched her voice. I would jokingly say that if I sang like Whitney, “I would not be here”, lol.

    I could go on and I thank her for those pop-culture catch phrases I would use like “bob-baaay” and “show me the receipt!” Shit, my mom cried because Whitney Huston was one of the music artists she loved upon coming to this great country called the “U.S.A.” Thank you AS for making this post. I was waiting.

    Damn, damn, damn.

  4. This makes me sadder than I can say. I was 17 when her first album came out and I’ve had a crush on her ever since. I wore out that cassette tape and when I saw her live in 1987 I felt like her voice was blowing me out of my seat. Kinda like that old Maxell print ad.

    I’ve been watching old videos on YouTube and remembering how much joy she gave me.

  5. Thanks for taking time out of your Saturday night to write this, Riese. Autostraddle’s breaking news posts always help me put these events into context and think about them in new ways. Your efforts are much appreciated.

  6. I really wanted her to make it, & hoped that even if her voice might have been too damaged to go back to a pop career, maybe getting away from Bobby & being with her daughter had brought her some measure of peace. I own 3 of her early albums (I bought them in 2000), and they’ve been on every mp3 player I’ve had since. Such a talent —

    I think about her as a young girl singing gospel in church and then after all the years this is the result. I’m sorry for her family.

  7. This makes me so sad. I used to go to sleep EVERY night to the Bodyguard soundtrack as a kid. Now I am going to go sit in my car and listen to my Whitney cassette while eating a fudgesicle for comfort.

  8. I imagine that in the end, like everyone else, all she wanted to do was dance with somebody who loved her.

  9. RIP. Just proves that the world can be watching someone’s addiction and still the decision to quit must be their own. Such a sad story.

  10. Whitney was part of the soundtrack of my youth and I don’t know how to deal with this? I mean I didn’t know her and I haven’t listened to anything of hers for years but still…


  11. Another legend gone. They say death comes in threes…..Etta James, Don Cornelius, and now Whitney Houston. Her poor family smh.

  12. Thanks Riese for writing this. I’m glad this is how I found out ealier this morning, such a respectful and loving tone to your piece.

    Rest in peace Whitney

  13. Movie Night: The Bodyguard
    Menu: Tears.

    Thanks for this, Riese. Says it all, puts words to my sadness, as always.

  14. Cause of death: Bobby Brown.

    I remember everyone saying how she married him because there were accusations of her not being “black enough” and his bad boy image/ R&B boy band schitck that was so popular at the time would help all stop all that stuff. I understand this- my gay identity has always preceded my black identity and I know how much those accusations hurt. I can only imagine what she went through with people saying that on such a large scale. So many people said, after the evidence of drug use, etc, surfaced, that he would be her undoing. They were right. RIP Whitney.

    • The entire “princess marrying the bad boy” is a record company pr fairy tale— a lot of her behaviors pre-dated her marriage. We want to believe our show biz princesses are real. Emotional problems and addiction don’t come out of nowhere. She was as much responsible for the addiction and abuse in that relationship as he was. She was enabled at every turn (including by her creepy interview with Oprah). Was she exploited… certainly. But people now trying to make Clive Davis or Bobby Brown into the devil shows how delusional we are about the inner demons of the performers we love. I feel horrible for what her daughter has and is going through and I hope she gets into al-anon post haste.

      • Yeah I really hope her daughter gets help. I don’t fault Bobby completely, but I am pretty sure had she not gotten involved with him, though, things would not have gotten to where they got to.

        Also, as for Clive: he has a penchant for taking young, impressionable girls and introducing them to the snake pit that is LA showbiz.

        I was into musical theater small time out there for awhile. Its the most drugged out atmosphere ever. I did so much cocaine its a wonder I am not dead. That’s just the way it is. Those who manage to escape that side of it are the lucky ones.

  15. Within minutes of the news breaking yesterday people on FB were cracking jokes and/or bashing her. Because apparently death is tragic unless it happens to an addict, and then it’s HILARIOUS. :/

    • I saw things like that, and have in the past when someone died in a way that was caused by drugs, and it just breaks my heart. No matter the reason or cause of their death, their loved ones just suffered a huge loss, her mother lost a daughter, her daughter a mother etc… and they deserve much more than jokes or “well they brought it onto themselves” comments flooding the internet about their loved one.

    • People on Twitter were saying stuff like ‘*insert celeb name* is next’ & ‘How is @*celeb* still kicking?’ & ‘Couldn’t *celeb* have died instead?’ Some people even directly @tweeted celebs asking why they’re still here.

  16. I was at a gig today. The metal/rock band in question switched their usual opening track for ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ and my friend Chelsie and I danced and cried a little.

  17. My girlfriend told me last night after getting sexy. So my first thought was “Wow really, you wanna discuss this RIGHT now?”.
    But now (also realizing it isn’t a rumour or sick joke) I’m full of sadness for the loss of a wonderful artist who has clearly touched so many.

  18. Weren’t there a lot of rumours about Whitney playing for our team? If those turn out to be true… how tragic.

    • yes, it would be epically tragic, because if that were true there’s no way trying to be something she wasn’t didn’t feed her addictions & whatever emotional pain she had.

      I do recall, even though I was a kid at the time, adults saying she was marrying to get out from under rumors about her orientation.

  19. I was so shocked when I heard the news on Twitter last night. I also spent a LOT of time listening to The Bodyguard soundtrack when I was 12. That was the first R-rated movie I got to see in the movie theater, because I loved that soundtrack so much and begged and pleaded until my mom agreed to take me to see it.

    It’s tragic that the disease of addiction has claimed another of our legendary artists. I hope she’s found the peace she was looking for, and my heart goes out to her family.

    • yeah, and that smile that just made you feel like she was enveloping you in confidence.

      “To me music and love are the same things, so if our kids grow up with music in their lives, then there’s no question that they’ll always be loved”

  20. right now, i’m really feeling for bobbi kristina. i can’t imagine the state of mind i’d be in if my mother died right now, let alone if i was 18 and had issues with drug use. she’s already been rushed to the hospital at least once in the wake of her mother’s death. i’m praying for her to get through this and that her father does the right thing and gives her the support that SHE needs to get through this time. i loved every song from the bodyguard, and years later, whenever i was going through a hard time, i would sing along to a few of them because the emotion in her music relayed my feelings so well. she was such an immense talent and her voice was otherworldly. she will be missed.

  21. On a road trip to Chico, CA this weekend, I found myself in a night club called The Beach. After downing a shot of tequila, I heard the DJ announce that the next song was dedicated to Whitney. My friends and I bee-lined for the dance floor and proceeded to go nuts with the entire club to I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Perfect way to say goodbye.

  22. Ever since I heard that she’s been battling her addiction and going through a very rough time that her image has drastically changed, so emaciated…I kept on thinking about her song “Greatest Love of All”, especially the line: “And if, by chance, that special place that you’ve been dreaming of leads you to a lonely place, find your strength in love”, and hoping that she remembers this line too, and be led back to happiness. It has also always struck me personally, and whenever I get sad I remind myself of that line. Now, as I’m watching the music video for the first time, I’m feeling a surge of emotions that I had to hold back my tears. :(

  23. I never was a Houston groupie even before she had her cocaine problems. When she made the statement to the effect, “I’m going to be bigger than my Aunt Dionne Warwick”, she turned me off, OK she was right, but there is still a place in the world for humility.

    I see way too much D&A abuse in the LGBT commnity, so I get very distressed watching people like Whitney struggling, but also destroying themselves and those round them.

  24. I haven’t been online (or near any kind of media) for over a week and had no idea Whitney Houston had died. I loved her voice. She will be missed.

  25. I too loved Whitney Houston- what a voice and what a face! I remember all the rumours regarding her long time assistant and best friend Robyn Crawford. Its kind of interesting how after she married Bobby Brown and Robyn quit, her life spiraled down in all ways. If its true she was trying to “straighten her life” what a sad lesson for us all. But we will probably never know. Her family will prevent any real info from coming out. By the way, Robyn penned the sweetest obit for Whitney.http://www.esquire.com/the-side/music/whitney-houston-6654718

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