The legendary singer had been struggling alone but was looking forward to her comeback film and wanted to spend more time with her daughter, when she was found dead.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 5, 2022. It has since been updated.
When legendary singer Whitney Houston started her career in the 80s, her vocal prowess was the only thing that made headlines, but soon her talent took a backseat and the focus was on her substance abuse. In her final days, she felt judged by people and wondered why it was happening to her, according to sources close to her.
The singer and actress was supposed to attend music industry executive Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy bash on February 11, 2012. It was at this event where she was introduced to the industry and the world almost 30 years ago. Davis was a mentor and friend to her. In the days prior to the event, "she was singing, she was dancing, she was laughing, she was playing," said Grammy nominee Kelly Price, according to ABC.
On the afternoon of February 11, she was found unresponsive in her hotel's bathtub, which was later chalked up to drowning, coronary heart disease, and unfortunately, drug use. Despite the facade of happiness, her family members saw the real face of the singing diva which was in pain.
Years later, a documentary about Whitney tried to show the world who she really was. In the trailer of the eponymous documentary, the singer can be heard as saying, "There were times when I would look up to God and I'd go, 'Why is this happening to me?'"
Pat Houston, Whitney's sister-in-law, told TODAY, "We look at celebrities like they're immortals and they're not. And the expectation that she's supposed to be this perfect person, that's a lot of pressure for one to have to deal with. It was a burden. A few days before she passed that's what she talked about. 'Why do people judge me?'"
Her cousin, singer Dionne Warwick, told Good Morning America that she spoke to her the day she passed. Whitney asked her if she was going to be there at the party and she said yes. "I said, 'Yeah, I'm going to be there' and she said, 'Thank you, I want you to be here. You've got to be here for me.'"
The I Will Always Love You singer also spoke to her mother around half an hour before she was found dead and neither her mom nor her cousin realized that anything was wrong with her. Even though, she had been struggling she wanted to get ready for a second act.
"She was so up and ready and happy. She had everything in the world to live for. She had a new film that was an absolute dream to make and do. She was getting ready to go back into the studio to record. She was getting her vocals together," said Warwick.
Whitney herself spoke about her new film Sparkle, “I don’t think of it as like a comeback. I think of it as a gift God gave me." Yet, she told one friend, “I’m gonna go see Jesus. I want to see Jesus" the day before she passed away, says The Sun. On February 11, 2012, she reportedly said, “You know, he’s so cool. I really want to see that Jesus.” Incidentally, her last public performance was two days prior to her death, on February 9, when she joined Kelly Price on stage in Hollywood, California and sang Jesus Loves Me.
She also expressed that she wanted to focus on her daughter with ex-husband Bobby Brown, Bobbi Kristina Brown. "I have priorities. Maintaining my daughter is my first," she had said, reports The Sun.
The singing sensation who was once the most awarded female artist of all time, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, had reportedly struggled with her public image as "America’s Singing Sweetheart." “She was in pain from living almost a double life,” a record exec who worked with Houston for many years told PEOPLE. “She wanted to be down with her community. That's who she really was. But because of her career, she also had to portray this pure pop princess in gorgeous gowns, singing songs the white community adored.” She made her acting debut with Kevin Costner in the 1992 movie The Bodyguard.
Even though the rumor mills were churning after her death, her ex-husband, Bobby Brown defended her. "I don’t think she died from drugs," he told Rolling Stone and added, "She was really working hard on herself to try to be a sober person... she was a great woman." He thinks she died of a broken heart.
Unfortunately, Bobby lost his daughter, who was the sole proprietor of Whitney's estate, three years later. Just like her mother, she was found in a bathtub. The 22-year-old was in a coma for six months before passing away, according to CBS.
Hope Whitney found Jesus, just the way she wanted to, and that she's in a better place now.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Kevork Djansezian