Whitney Houston dies at age 48, Grammy producers planning tribute with Jennifer Hudson

Singer Whitney Houston appears in an undated photo from her official website. - Provided courtesy of WhitneyHouston.com

Whitney Houston died at age 48 at a hotel in Beverly Hills, California on Saturday, February 11, a day before the 2012 Grammy Awards, whose producers are already planning a tribute to the iconic singer.
The cause of her death has not yet been determined. Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen said the singer died in a room at the Beverly Hilton. Her said they received a 911 call from hotel security at 3:43 p.m. and that there were "no obvious signs of foul play and no obvious signs of a cause of death."
"Fire Department personnel, accompanied by hotel security responded to the hotel room occupied by entertainer Whitney Houston," police said in a statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com. "Upon arrival, first responders discovered Whitney Houston unresponsive. They initiated CPR, but were unable to revive her. At approximately 3:55 p.m. Whitney Houston, age 48 was pronounced dead at the scene."
"Whitney Houston was positively identified at the scene by members of her entourage which included friends, co-workers and family," the statement added."Ms. Houston's daughter and mother were notified of her death."
An investigation is currently underway. The actual cause of death will be determined by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.
Police would not say if there were any drugs or alcohol were found in the room. The pop, soul and R&B singer had struggled with substance abuse for years. She relapsed and returned to rehab in May.
Houston's death occurred a day before the 2012 Grammy Awards, which take place in Los Angeles. Houston was set to perform on Saturday at the Beverly Hilton at a pre-Grammy gala for producer Clive Davis, who discovered her. The event took place as scheduled. A crime lab bus was seen parked outside as guests gathered inside the building.
Davis and R&B singer Alicia Keys were embraced in front of the vehicles, OnTheRedCarpet.com has learned.
"It's semi-festive and .. surreal," television personality Larry King told CNN. "I've never been at a party like this. Her remains are still in this hotel. They haven't removed them yet. The police are here. Crowds are outside. The room is packed. The show's about to start. Tony Bennett is set to sing a special tribute to her."
The Grammy ceremony's executive producer, Ken Ehrlich, told CNN that Sunday's show will include a tribute to Houston that would be "appropriate to Whitney's memory."
"I've asked Jennifer Hudson to come and we're really at this moment talking about what she's going to do," he said, referring to an "American Idol" alum who was presented with a Grammy by Houston at the 2009 ceremony and whose long-ranging voice has been compared to the late singer's.
"It's too early, too fresh," he said. "It's not going ont be a full-blown tribute. We've gone through the script and we've made a few changes It's still going to be a great music show. I think, knowing Whitney as I did ... she knew the importance of thrilling an audience and that's what we still plan to do tomorrow."
The Grammy ceremony is also expected to include tributes to singer Etta James, who passed away in January, and "Soul Train" creator Don Cornelius, who died earlier this month.
Houston's ex-husband, singer Bobby Brown, with whom she had a turbulent relationship, responded to news about her death just before performing at a reunion concert for his former group New Edition in Southaven, Mississippi.
"First of all, I want to tell you that I love you all," he told the sold-out crowd. "Second, I would like to say, I love you Whitney. The hardest thing for me to do is to come on this stage."
During an intermission, Houston's 1985 song "You Give Good Love" was played over the speakers, prompting scores of fans to stand up and sing along, OnTheRedCarpet.com has learned.
Houston was known for her wide vocal range and hits such as the ballad "I Will Always Love You," a Dolly Parton cover that was the lead single on the soundtrack of the 1992 film "The Bodyguard," which marked Houston's big screen debut.
Houston, a cousin of singer Dionne Warwick, began her music career as a child, singing at her church in her native New Jersey. Houston had consecutive No. 1 hits in the 1980s, including '"I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" and "So Emotional."
Houston won six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards and two Emmy Awards during her long career. She was one of the world's best-selling musicians, having sold over 170 million albums and singles worldwide.
Simon Cowell, a British music mogul who rose to fame in the United States with "American Idol," told CNN that Houston's voice was "so distinct, so incredible and that's what she's going to leave behind."
Cowell said he and producers of his FOX series "The X Factor" had "ironically" planned to discuss on Monday the possibility of having Houston join the celebrity cast, adding: "I would have liked to have taken her under my wing as well because she would have been the ultimate, ultimate mentor to any contestant coming on that show."
Houston's last major record was "I Look to You," her seventh studio album. She had last year worked on a new movie, "Sparkle," which marked her return to the big screen since the release of "Cinderella" in 1997. She had also starred with Brown on a reality show that aired on the cable channel Bravo in 2005.
"Sparkle" is set for release in August. Houston plays the mother of a young singer, played by former "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks. The story movies is about three sisters who form a successful singing group and then face the consequences of fame, such as problems with drugs.
Before her relapse last May, Houston underwent treatment for drug and alcohol abuse in 2003 and 2004. In her infamous 2002 interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer, Houston said, "The biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy."
She also denied using crack cocaine, telling Sawyer, "Crack is cheap. We don't do crack. Crack is whack."
She told Sawyer that she has used alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs at different points during her career.
"I partied a lot," she said. " Trust me, I partied my tail off. You get to a point where you know the party's over."
In 2000, the singer was detained at a Hawaii airport after a security guard said some 15 grams of marijuana were found in her purse. The drug possession charge was later dismissed.
Houston leaves behind one daughter, Bobbi Kristina, who was born in 1993. Houston married her father, Brown, in 1992 and filed a domestic abuse charge against him the following year. The pair got divorced in 2007.
Houston was believed to have dated R&B artist Ray J on and off since 2007. Ray J is the brother of singer Brandy and famously starred in a sex tape with reality actress Kim Kardashian that was leaked in 2006. He and Houston have spent time together in recent days and on February 3, they were photographed leaving a Los Angeles restaurant and getting into a car. He has not commented on her death.
"I know she would want people to remember her profound talent and to think of her in a positive light," veteran singer and friend Smokey Robinson told CNN. "She was a nice person and I know that she would want to be remembered that way, rather than being remembered for her problems. Whitney was family to me. I will always love Whitney like Whitney."

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