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Sat Nov 01 01:41:32 SAST 2014

Whitney Houston dies

Sapa-AFP | 12 February, 2012 08:377 Comments
Singer Whitney Houston

Stars and music industry leaders paid tribute Saturday to singer Whitney Houston, who died aged 48 on the eve of the annual Grammys show.

Grammys organising chief Neil Portnow called Houston "one of the world's greatest pop singers of all time who leaves behind a robust musical soundtrack spanning the past three decades.

"A light has been dimmed in our music community today, and we extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends, fans and all who have been touched by her beautiful voice," said the head of the Recording Academy.

Many stars took to Twitter to voice shock after Houston was found dead in the Beverly Hilton Hotel, hours before a traditional pre-Grammys dinner which she was due to attend.

"It's a tragedy. Whitney Houston was the greatest singer I've ever heard and she will be truly missed," wrote veteran crooner Tony Bennett.

Mariah Carey added: "She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth." while "Queen of Funk" Chaka Khan tweeted: "I'm speechless...I'm in shock right now. Just pray for her and the family."

Jermaine Jackson, whose brother Michael died in similarly shocking fashion at the age of 50 in June 2009 in Los Angeles, said his thoughts went out to Houston's gospel singer mother Emily "Cissy" Houston.

"I can imagine what she's going through, because I... , we've been through with my mother and its very tough to lose a child, and for your to outlive your child," he told CNN.

Christina Aguilera added: "We have lost another legend. Love and prayers to Whitney's family. She will be missed."

Motown great Smokey Robinson, who recently attended a tribute to Jackson in Hollywood, called Houston "one of the greatest voices in the history of music," adding "I will always love her."

From the younger generation, Canadian teen sensation Justin Bieber tweeted: "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."

"California Gurls" singer Katy Perry added: "So devastating. We will always love you Whitney, R.I.P," while award-winning rap artist Nicki Minaj: "Jesus Christ, not Whitney Houston. Greatest of all time."

"No words! Just tears," added US singer Rihanna, while Hawaiian-born Bruno Mars said" "This is terrible news..I'm sick to my stomach. Nobody sang like Whitney."

Reality TV star Sharon Osbourne said she was "devastated" by the news. "My heart goes out to (Houston's daughter with Bobby Brown) Bobbi Christina. Always be proud of your mother, she was magnificent," she said.

Houston was the vocal star of a generation whose soaring voice broke records and inspired millions of fans before substance abuse sent her on a downward spiral.

With a ferociously powerful voice and a dazzling range, Houston achieved stardom as a pop-soul singer known as "the Voice" and the "Queen of Pop" in the 1980s and 1990s.

Her fantastic success -- and that of fellow pop icon Michael Jackson --was propelled by a brand new device at the time: the pop music video.

Houston's trove of six Grammy awards included one for record of the year -- for a soaring cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You," and another for album of the year for "The Bodyguard."

She later parlayed her stardom to acting success appearing in hit movies like "Waiting to Exhale" and "The Bodyguard," co-starring Kevin Costner.

From a musical family that included mother Cissy Houston, a gospel star, and Dionne Warwick, her cousin, Whitney Houston started out as a teen model and then made a dazzling segue to music.

Her hits included "How Will I Know," "Saving all My Love for You," and "I Will Always Love You," a Dolly Parton cover that Houston made her own megahit.

As a performer, Houston earned a reputation as a regal diva, but not without merit.

"She was entitled to be a diva .. when you've got that much talent," star-spotter Cowell added.

She also was a trailblazing African-American beauty, a teen model who became the first black cover girl on "Seventeen" magazine.

Houston sold more than 170 million records worldwide but suffered a major career setback after admitting drug use during an abusive relationship with ex-husband Bobby Brown.

And while her fans kept waiting for more recovery and a bigger comeback, Houston broke some hearts with her passing.

"I am absolutely devastated by this news. I'm so sad for her," said Cowell, known for his normally rough edges.

"She was undoubtedly one of the greatest superstars of all time. One of the greatest voices, you know, in our lifetime we're likely to ever hear," Cowell said. "And to hear this news, it's really, really upset me."

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