By Billy Johnson, Jr.
The Beverly Hilton is the venue for the music industry's most prestigious pre-Grammy party hosted by veteran executive Clive Davis, who discovered Houston.
In an industry flooded with novelty artists, who disappear after scoring one hit, Houston's longevity was unquestioned when she released her debut single, the ballad "You Give Good Love" in February 1985. The song's soothing opening ad-libs displayed her soulful roots while also celebrating her pop sensibilities.
Houston's sound was distinct, and clearly separated her from the funk-laden stylings of the era's other female R&B singers. Plus, she was a model who appeared in "Glamour" and "Cosmopolitan" magazines.
Houston's sound made sense when considering her pedigree. She was the perfect melding of the styles of her mother, gospel singer Cissy Houston; cousin, 1960s pop singer Dionne Warwick; and godmother, queen of soul Aretha Franklin.
Houston's self-titled debut album topped the charts and was certified diamond. Her career was impenetrable throughout the release of several follow up albums, 1987's "Whitney," 1990's "I'm Your Baby Tonight," and 1992's "The Bodyguard" soundtrack.
Houston's fans were concerned when she married R&B bad boy Bobby Brown in 1992, but they professed their happiness.
By the late 1990s, Houston's drug problems began to become tabloid fodder. In a 2002 interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Houston admitted to her struggles, but maintained that she was doing fine.
The public received its first real glimpse of Houston behind-the-scenes in 2004 when she appeared on Brown's reality series "Being Bobby Brown." The bad publicity move depicted Houston as profane, combative, and delusional, seemingly supporting the behavior of someone on drugs.
Among the saddest indications of Houston's fall was her 2009 comeback album, "I Look To You." While the album received positive reviews, her live performances signaled that the damage to her voice was beyond repair.
Concertgoers stormed out of her 2010 "Nothing But Love World Tour" angry, complaining that Houston was not fit to sing live, and they demanded that their ticket costs be refunded.
On stage, Houston made light of her vocal struggles, and even seemed to be confident when doing so.
But the public scrutiny intensified, and was followed by additional stints in rehab.
While the cause of death has not yet been revealed, one can only wonder whether it was drug-related.
Anyone who remembers Houston's early work and the impact it had on music can only be saddened by her death.
I extend condolences to her family and friends, especially her daughter, Bobbi Kristina.
Celebrities react to Whitney Houston's death
The world of entertainment has reacted to the tragic news that Whitney Houston has died at the age of 48.The legendary singer's publicist announced that she had passed this afternoon, while sources have told various media outlets that she was found at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
She is survived by her daughter Bobbi Kristina.
Mariah Carey and P. Diddy are just some celebrities who have paid their respects to the legend.
Read their messages below...
Kerry Washington: RIP Whitney. Devastatingly sad. My prayers go out to her family
Rocsi Diaz: Lord this is heartbreaking Whitney Houston R.I.P
Q-Tip: "I had the pleasure of knowing /wking w whitney. Known her 4 long time. My prayers r w/fam, robyn, bob, ect.. RIP whitney "THEVOICE"
Keyshia Cole: "Whitney??? Pls No!! R.I.P my beautiful! This REALLY hurts my heart!!!!"
Kyla Pratt: "She just did Sparkle! She was supposed to be coming back! I can't believe this! in shock!!"
Mariah Carey: "Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston. My heartfelt condolences to Whitney's family and to all her millions of fans throughout the world."
Wyclef Jean: "This is the saddest thing I've ever had to write in my life, R I P to one of the greatest humans that I have ever known Whitney Houston. She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth."
Toni Braxton: "My heart is weeping...RIP to the Legendary Diva & Icon Whitney Houston!!!!! Such an incredible influence over music as a whole!"
Cee-Lo Green: "R.I.P. Sister WHITNEY HOUSTON!!!!! We will always love you."
Jill Scott: "I can't. Whitney? No. NO!!!"
Justin Bieber: "just heard the news. so crazy. One of the GREATEST VOICES EVER just passed. RIP Whitney Houston. My prayers go out to her friends and family."
Angela Simmons: "Prayers to her family and loved ones. "Godsstrengthen - Rest in peace Whitney Houston."
Keri Hilson: "Watching the news now...it's true. R.I.P. Whitney Houston. Ugh I hate that I'm even typing this...I'm shocked. She was my hero growing up."
Nicki Minaj: "Jesus Christ, not Whitney Houston. Greatest of all time."
L.A. Reid: "I am completely devastated by the loss of the greatest voice of all time! R.I.P. Whitney Houston. I will always love you!"
Sanaa Lathan: "AND I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU... Whitney Houston. Rest in Peace. Light & Love to Bobbi Kristina and Family."
Swizz Beatz: "I hate to say these words about my sister & friend R.I.P To the Great Whitney Houston you will always be loved in this world!!"
Eve: "Wow R.I.P Whitney Houston. So sad. My prayers go out to family,friends,fans..."
Terrence J: "RIP Whitney Houston. So sad to hear this news. My condolences to her family, friends, and loved ones."
Tyrese: "I'm in Houston on the night we lose Whitney Houston .. Tonight's show is dedicated to her legacy."
P. Diddy: "Whitney Houston!!! OMG!! I really can't believe this.. This is one of the saddest days ever.."