Whitney Houston, best-selling music artist, dies at age 48 (VIDEO)


Whitney Houston, the American singer who was once one of the world's best-selling artists, died Saturday from a possible drug overdose or drowning, TMZ reported. She was 48.

Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen said Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. (local time) in her room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton, the Associated Press reported.

A Los Angeles County coroner's official said early Sunday that her body had been taken to a morgue.

"There were no obvious signs of any criminal intent," Rosen said.

Houston's publicist Kristen Foster said the cause her death was unknown, but TMZ reported firefighters found pill bottles in her room, and her body was discovered in the bathtub.

Among the drugs found was Xanax, a prescription for anxiety that can cause drowsiness

Her death came on the eve of the Grammys and on the night of Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy gala, at which she performed last year, the LA Times reported.

Organizers of the Grammy Awards said Houston will be remembered Sunday in a tribute by Jennifer Hudson.

Perhaps best known for her hits "How Will I Know," "Saving All My Love for You," and "I Will Always Love You," Houston won multiple Grammy awards, including album and record of the year.

Houston was supposed to appear at the gala, and had been at rehearsals for the show on Thursday, although according to one report Houston looked disheveled, was sweating profusely and liquor and cigarettes could be smelled on her breath.

Houston, the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of 1960s pop diva Dionne Warwick, hit her peak in the mid-1980s through the '90s, when according to the Baltimore Sun she "wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen."

Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow said in a statement that Houston "was one of the world's greatest pop singers of all time who leaves behind a robust musical soundtrack spanning the past three decades. Her powerful voice graced many memorable and award-winning songs. 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."

She began her career in her teens, singing back-up for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling, and she is credited with having influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey.

She also starred in several big-budget Hollywood movies, including "The Bodyguard" and "Waiting to Exhale."

However, Houston — also the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin — fell into drug abuse, which along with erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to soul crooner Bobby Brown all but ended her career.

UPDATE: It was an emotional night for soul singer Bobby Brown, who performed just hours after learning that his ex-wife had died, the Associated Press reported.

"I would like to say, 'I love you, Whitney.' The hardest thing for me to do is to come on this stage, " Brown told fans at a nearly sold-out 7,500-seat venue in northern Mississippi.

Brown was overcome with emotion as the concert wound down, wiping his face with his vest, according to the AP.

The Sydney Morning Herald wrote that:

"Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime."

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