Whitney Houston: Music was in her blood

Whitney Houston, right, sits with her cousin Dionne Warwick, left, and her mother, gospel singer Cissy Houston, after the American Music Awards at the Shine Audiorium in Los Angeles, Jan. 26, 1987.
AP Photo/Lennox McClendon

On the eve of tonight's Grammy Awards, singer Whitney Houston was found dead in Beverly Hills yesterday at the age of 48. The circumstances of her death are under investigation. Bill Whitaker in Los Angeles looks back:

Whitney Houston possessed a voice that seemed to possess all who heard it.

Infused with gospel and grace, pop and passion, that unmistakable voice took Houston to great heights, shattered records, and inspired a generation of fans and artists.

Houston was discovered by music industry impresario, Clive Davis. He became her producer and mentor.

"Whitney Houston, you know, from the '80s through the '90s, you know, was the best singer in the world. And we had the biggest hits in the world," Davis said last year.

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Her first album sold millions and launched a meteoric career.

Music was in her blood. The daughter of Grammy-winning gospel singer Cissy Houston, she was the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin and the cousin of '60s pop star Dionne Warwick . . . who gave Whitney Houston her first of six Grammy Awards.

The golden girl with the golden voice - a cross-over sensation - became one of the top selling artists of all time.

Success in music spawned success in movies, like "The Bodyguard."

But while she was spinning out hits . . . her life was spinning out of control. Her 15-year marriage to R&B star Bobby Brown was tumultuous, sometimes violent. There were rumors, then admissions of heavy drug use.

"Whatever problems we have to work out, we'll work them out," Houston said in a 1996 interview.

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The couple had a daughter but by the time they divorced in 2007 Houston's record sales had plummeted, her star had dimmed, her once-pure voice had grown raspy. Attempts at a comeback failed.

She was to appear at Clive Davis' big pre-Grammy party last night. Instead the big-name guests saluted her.

"Today we did not just lose an artist; we truly lost an angel," said Sean "Diddy" Combs.

"Whitney was a beautiful person and she had a talent beyond compare," said Clive Davis.

Tonight the Grammys will pay tribute to Whitney Houston.

Her life was touched by tragedy and triumph . . . her voice touched us all.