tv Lockup Boston MSNBC February 11, 2012 6:00pm-7:00pm PST
ma made me happy, i was delighted to see that. >> thank you so much. we ask you to stay with us. right now we want to let our viewers know who are just tuning in we have received word from the associated press, superstar whitney houston is dead at the age of 48. ironically on this grammy weekend when many of her peers are in los angeles. we're waiting to get more details on the story. i'll go to gina kim our msnbc correspondent. he in a, are there any more details coming forth? >> you know what you're learning is what's trickling in to the news room in los angeles. as you were saying this happens to be a very unfortunate timing kind of a thing and certainly very coincidental because all of los angeles is a-flutter with the grammy preparations, the grammy awards are tomorrow. the information we're getting is coming in, in bits and pieces the few minutes, tmz, "os
listening less times" several sources say she died at the beverly hilton hotel, she was apparently in town to participate in a musical tribute to a music executive, clive davis, her mentor and the man who discovered her and was responsible for her skyrocketing career in the '80s and '90s and when the news hit today around i would say about an hour and a half, two hours ago here in the newsroom, everyone just exploded. this is certainly a very big surprise. i don't think anybody here in los angeles, even those in the music industry had any idea that this was coming. this is definitely a shock, and as far as what may be the cause of her death, who may have found her, what time all of this happened, we're still trying to get all of those confirmations.
we did contact the l.a. county coroner's office who said as far as he's concerned he's not able to release any information so far so he's unable to give us any additional details at this time. it appears to be from multiple sources this is indeed the case and that everyone here in los angeles is surprised by the whole thing, paige. >> gina kim thank you so much. courtney hazlett, msnbc entertainment correspondent, you're hearing bits and pieces that we're getting, gina kim was tell us they're hearing whitney houston died at the beverly hilton, perhaps she was led out of a club last night. >> there are reports she was out of town for the grammys and a report that she would be part of this big tribute to clive davis, i think that's the relationship to focus on here. she and clive were really, really close. clive shepherded her through her entire career. i've been speaking people to
clive this is a better or worse relationship the two of them had. he never gave up on her, he always believed in her, and you know even when whitney was at rock bottom, clive was always there for her, so you know, it comes as no surprise that no matter where she was in her personal life she would make every effort to be in los angeles and be part of some sort of tribute to clive for the grammys, which are tomorrow night. >> clive davis of arista records known for spottingtal nt and often cited her as his jewel in the crown because of her voice. >> and it wasn't even just that she was one of the best talents that clive had ever spotted. she was one of the best talents ever spotted, period. her success in the vocal industry is really beyond compare. she's got one of the best voices that ever, ever, ever existed, and you know, of course clive can take tons of responsibility
for that, but she was loyal to him, to the end, as was he. >> she certainly did have a god-given gift. let me ask you, courtney, we've been talking to a lot of people who knew her well, she had recently gone on a european tour after the album came out, trying to resuscitate her career, trying to see if she could fill auditoriums in europe. that tour was cut short. >> that's right. >> what was going on? we're sitting here talking about how she was possibly one of the greatest voices we'll ever certainly hear in our generation and yet why was this not reigniting for her? >> it was her own personal struggles getting in the way and also the fact that whitney was getting older and her voice wasn't what it was 15, 20 years ago or whatnot. really i was talking to someone tonight who was just in negotiations or talks to have her perform here in the united states.
it wasn't that anyone ever thought that she couldn't draw a crowd. whitney houston could draw a crowd no matter where she was at her career, what state she was in her personal life. the real question was how will whitney perform, and this is the type of artist that everyone was rooting for. nobody wanted to set her up for failure. nobody professionally on her side wanted to put her in a position where she couldn't perform to the best of her ability, and so i think it was always a balancing act, where was whitney, you know, personally and with that standup professionally for her, what would the best case scenario would be. >> as we get the news of whitney houston dead at the age of 48, courtney, that voice was iconic. we'll probably never hear the likes of it again. we want to take a moment and remember some her biggest hits in the late '80s and early '90s. ♪ and i will always love you
♪ ooh i will always love you ♪ you, ooh ♪ okay, we've been listening to one of the greatest songs that whitney houston ever recorded. she wasn't the first to record it but certainly made a hit out of the song the voice the likes of which we'll probably never hear again. we go to gina kim of msnbc in los angeles. >> paige we just concluded a press conference that we were listening in on by the beverly hills police department, and they gave us a lot more information. they are basically reporting at
3:23 this afternoon pacific time the beverly hills police department got the 911 call from the beverly hilton, apparently crews arrives two minutes later, and already people were working on the singer, feverishly trying to revive her from her room, which was located on the fourth floor. those efforts obviously you were unsuccessful, and her friends and family had to come and identify her as she was pronounced dead. now something else that they said which is kind of interesting, as they do not as of yet see any obvious signs of drug use or drug paraphernalia, but obviously all of this is still under investigation. the police are all over the beverly hilton at this hour. keep in mind, this is less than three hours ago, so this is all very recent, and also they are reporting that they don't have any obvious signs of criminal intent or foul play. not sure whether she was alone in the room or whether her boyfriend, who sources are
reporting as ray jay, might have been in the room with her, and detectives are scouring the area for clues, trying to interview witnesses. again, many people at the hotel apparently tried to give her life-saving measures, performing cpr, all of that unsuccessful, and we're still getting information from the beverly hills police department. >> and this is a very fresh investigation. you can tell us again, gina, what time you believe they went into her room? >> yes, about two and a half hours ago, 3:23 was when somebody discovered her in the room, and who knows how that came about. it must have been somebody who had access to her room or somebody who was expecting to be with her, and noticed that perhaps she was unresponsive, but yeah, that was less than three hours ago, and they literally responded within two minutes and by then it had been two too late. we don't know if the call came at 3:23 pacific time, how long she had already been in trouble
by that point but of course hopefully all of those details will be coming shortly. >> i want to ask you again, you stated that the police are saying there is no obvious sign of drug use at this time? >> absolutely. detective plashing rosen of the beverly hills police department was the one doing the press conference just now and he is saying there is "no obvious signs of criminal intent or foul play" and the interesting factor here, no obvious signs of drugs. >> yes, that is definitely, because as we've been watching and talking about her career in recent years, her struggles with substance abuse have been very public. can you tell us ray jay, her boyfriend, he was in l.a. with her? >> yes, apparently he was accompanying her, apparently they were at the hotel together, and various reports are already saying that he was the one who had discovered her. now we have not been independently been able to confirm that so we have not been reporting it, but several sources including tmz are out there saying that was the case.
>> okay, jinah kim, of course he is the brother of the singer brandy. >> she did a "cinderella" movie with brandy where whitney houston played the godmother. jina kim, thank you, we'll go back to you in a moment. bradley jacob senior editor qualify as us weekly" what are you hearing? >> we're just gathering all our information as much as we can now. this is a massive story. we do know that she was out just last night at this event, where she sang "jesus loves me." we have witnesses there saying she did not look so good. she was not behaving well. she had been drinking, looked kind of messy, and you know, we're going from there. >> you had heard the reports she was led out of a club last night? >> led out of a club? we're working on everything we can. but that wouldn't surprise me. you know, just my first thought
looking back on this whitney houston story is that these drug rumors have been around her for well over ten years. it was the interview with diane sawyer that "crack is whack" the statement has aged profoundly over the years, as we've watched her get further and further into trouble. >> how would you characterize her for the last couple of years? ? she's been struggling. "i look at you" another album came out in 2009 which had some singles that did very well, "i look to you" and "million-dollar bill" entered to number one and
sold very well, first number one album since "the bodyguard" which has the most number of weeks at number one of all-time. so you know, she would kind of get back on track and do good work and then she would kind of derail again, and cancel shows or be five hours late. she was very, very erratic. i would say she's been erratic basically for the last decade. >> did you ever meet her or interview her in person? >> i've been in rooms with her many times, seen her interact and she was always extremely gracious and always looked very glamorous, but you know, that's kind of part of her job is to look good and you know, especially industry events where there would be press but it was behind the scenes where she was not particularly well. >> right now she was also promoting that movie "sparkle." can you tell us what the buzz on that was? >> we're looking to interview,
of course, people who worked on "sparkle" who could paint the picture of whitney over the last few years, sorry, over the last few months, ce-lo, who just performed at the super bowl was in "sparkle" with whitney. we're looking to connect to anyone we can with that film. >> any acting buzz with jord jordin sparxx? >> none about their interaction. whitney has always done little parts here and there. we're interested into looking into that for sure. >> what do you think whitney houston will be most remembered for? >> two things, i would say you know her miraculous rise in the '80s and just her incredible voice, and how much joy she brought to people, and then just as much the sad decline over the
last decade, and she made some bad decisions, too. she was on the reality show with bobby brown in 2004 that people
said was some of the worst television they'd ever seen, it was a real warts and all look at the two of them, so i would say it would be equal parts, her incredible rise and how much we just loved her. i think the time that she sang "the star-spangled banner" at the super bowl. >> of course, iconic. >> the most famous, i saw kelly clarkson sing it last sunday and you always think of whitney when you hear "the star-spangled banner" and how incredible that was. and then again like this very sad, you know, apparently drug affected decline that we've basically watched play out, so those are what i think the legacies will be. >> we have a comment in from quincy jones, legendary producer
himself, he says "i am absolutely heartbroken at the news of whitney's passing. ash ford and simpson first made me aware of whitney when she was just
16 and i always regretted not having the opportunity to work with her. she was a true original and talent beyond compare. i will miss her terribly." >> yeah, just her influence, we interviewed jennifer hudson at an event today before the news broke and she was saying to our "us weekly" reporter that "i will always love you" was the song for her when she was growing up and fantasize being being a singer she'd create duets between she and whitney, always create harmonies because she wanted to sing a duet with whitney houston. >> wow. >> you know, her influence is vast. >> amazing. you know what's so sad, here we are recognizing what an amazing voice she had, unique in our generation, we'll probably never hear anything like it again and yet she really wasn't getting the accolades in recent years. >> no, i think she had a hard time working, and it is clear
she was erratic is the word i keep coming back to. she could put out great music. she could do a great performance and then have a miserable performance and so you just really couldn't count on her. she was inconsistent when it came to her performing. >> we're looking at video of her singing at the super bowl. >> "the star-spangled banner." >> a moment we'll always remember. brad thanks so much. stay on the line for a moment. we'll go to chris witherspoon of thegrio.com, our entertainment reporter there. what do you make as we've been talking about whitney and you've been digesting this news? >> i'm just hearing this discussion about her ups and downs and it's incredible that her legacy is going to be that mixed bag of these incredible, incredible highs and then lows that you know, that no one would imagine for her in her career. it's remarkable. >> don't you think, though, unfortunately when she did the reality show with bobby brown
and she led such a public life and we live in this media age where we follow these celebrities in all aspects of their life, unfortunately you do get this very mixed picture, warts and all? >> yes and she spoke out about not wanting to do that reality show, it was more bobby. originally i think bravo approached just bobby brown and i'm sorry, bobby wanted bravo to just allow him to do the show and bravo wanted to have whitney in order to make it a show so i don't think whitney would have ever allowed cameras around but she did it for the love of bobby. she did a lot for him. she partied a lot and took on a lifestyle that might not have been in the lifestyle she was raised to be but did it because that's what she did for love maybe. >> it was a sad show for anybody who remembers watching it. she did not look to me to be in good shape. >> yes. >> chris hold on, i go to john murray, pop culture expert, he actually knew whitney houston.
john, what are your thoughts right now. >> i've been up most of the night and though whitney wasn't a friend, she was somebody who i interviewed and met several times, i have a wonderful photo i just posted on my facebook page in memory of her tonight. it's such a travesty, even with all the highs and the lows of her career, and things like bobby brown and other things people are talking about tonight, she was probably the greatest voice of all-time. she really is the singer that all young artists aspired to sing like. any time you hear a female vocalist talk about their inspirations, whitney houston is the first one that comes to mind, and so, so many triumphs, so many firsts, so many best selling millions of records and a great legacy tarnished by the discussions of alcohol and drug abuse, and so many other lows that she encountered in her career, truly, truly a tragic loss and definitely an artist gone too soon.
>> from your perspective do you think that's how we'll remember her, we'll remember the drama of her life? >> it's been so widely reported, and the age of the internet where everything is so herseavi documented, it goes along with the talent and "the greatest love of all" it goes along with the grammys and along with "the star-spangled banner" at the super bowl. "the preacher's wife" is the best selling gospel of all-time but you can't talk about that without talking "hail to the gnaw" or some of the antics on bra vo's "bobby being bobby brown." being bobby brown was the greatest rated show the network had seen and opened the door for all of the housewife franchises and things like that so that's something andy cohen himself had said so you know, the good and the bad all together, is how we have to remember whitney houston
but she will always be remembered for being legendary. >> we have a picture of you with whitney. when you interviewed her, what kind of a person did you find her to be? >> it was an informal interview arranged by coincidentally another r&b singer, kelly price who whitney did a brief performance of "yes, jesus loves me" at kelly's pre-grammy party thursday night at a venue called true hollywood, kelly price and friends and an assortment of friends came out to celebrate with kelly. kelly wrote whitney's hit "heartbreak hotel" they duet on. whitney was fun, full of life. she always gave you zingers and one-liners and she was wonderful, hugged on me, told me i smelled good and she had sung on a b.e.t. show with kim burrell, who become like a spiritual adviser to her. she had so many people praying her and encouraging her toward sobriety and a healthy lifestyle. even though it's unconfirmed as to what has taken her life so
soon, we're just all wishing and hoping for the best. >> the l.a. detectives said they are ruling out, there was no obvious sign of drug use. i want to ask you about the picture we had up. when was that taken, in the last couple of days? >> no, that photo was taken in december of 2010, at the orpheum theater in los angeles back stage. you know, whitney, there have been a few reports online, paige, about whitney's behavior the last couple of days at that venue that she appeared at, there was a bit of an altercation with one of the "x factor" stars. >> really? >> stacy francis, one of the finalists, whitney engaged her in a back and forth because she accused stacy of flirting with the singer ray jay, who she said was "her man" so my heart goes out to someone like stacy who was inspired to be in this business because of whitney houston, and 48 hours after having a really bad exchange with her, this is the memory now she's left with, the last and
final memory. >> did you see that exchange? >> i was not there for the event but i actually spoke to the people that were in the area and defused it and did some coverage on it and other mediums. >> you heard a story about whitney houston who was seemingly so elegant and sophisticated and poised having an altercation at an event tells you that maybe something was a little off kilter recently. >> that lined up with "being bobby brown" pulled the veil off of the do he va clive dressed for us. she was elegant and poised but made no mistakes about telling you, i'm a girl from newark, i come from tough beginnings and i will cut you. one of her most infamous moments was with the tuck show host wendy williams back when wendy was on the radio in new york city and had been doing a lot of derogatory stories about whitney houston. she called into the radio show and said if you don't stop talking about me i'm going to meet you outside so whitney didn't play, she was a tough cookie and not an easy customer. >> she didn't come from a hard
luck beginning. she she's, newark is still newark. corey book er, she came from a musical background but she was a girl who had a strong connection to the inner city. >> what did you make of her marriage to bobby brown? it was puzzling to so many people. >> it was puzzling but sadly tonight bobby brown is working in mississippi with his group new edition and bobby seems to be dealing with sobriety well and has really turned a corner in his life. he's doing well, become a great father, he has a young child, he has a healthy, new relationship so a lot of times bobby brown was blamed in a very bad way for the things that were going on for whitney houston but as we're seeing now, bobby seems to have cleaned his life up and whitney was still in that place.
>> interesting. very interesting. >> i don't think bobby can be the person who we look at in this regard. we have to look at some of the people she was surrounding herself with as of late. >> who are you referring to? >> and the decisions she was making. >> who are you referring to? >> whitney ch ekd into rehab last fall before she went to tape the movie "sparkle" which they had completed production onnen. it's amazing that piece will come to theaters later this year and it will be her final work. >> john murray thank you as a pop culture expert who knew whitney houston. we're looking at her video of singing "the star-spangled banner." let's listen back to one of her hits "one moment in time." ♪ give me one moment in time when i'm racing with destiny ♪ ♪ then in that one moment of
time i will feel, i will feel eternity ♪ ♪ mmm ♪ i've lived to be the very best ♪ ♪ i want it all no time for l s less ♪ >> what a voice she had, whitney houston, dead at the age of 48, the cause of death being very longed by the lapd right now. we are getting reports there were calls made to the beverly hilton, she was staying at the beverly hilton, in town for the grammy this is week and a party her mentor, the man who discovered her, clive davis has having tonight. she was going to be at that party and tribute to him. unfortunately, she never made it. police were summoned to the hotel, the beverly hilton, her body was removed.
no obvious drug use according to police, and no obvious foul play. they are continuing their investigation at this time. let's go back now to reverend joe watkins, again this story, reverend watkins, you just can't help but thinking we're sitting here talking about her voice and how it was just straight from heaven, and yet she really didn't get these accolades in recent years. it's tragic, isn't it? >> it is tragic, because i just remember how she touched so many millions of lives, and she was so popular, not only in the united states but all around the world. traveling to the netherlands te and to france and great britain and see the response of audiences all around the world as well as in the united states, and it was just something to behold. they absolutely loved her. they loved her. >> a few people we've been talking to in the last few moments made the point that what's sad is that many of us
and maybe it's because we live in this media age where every aspect of the celebrity lives is covered to an absurd degree, are going to remember the ups and downs of her life. the stormy bobby brown marriage that reality show that really threw back the curtain and we saw this side of whitney houston i'm sure shocked most of us. >> yes. well, i think that's right. the tough part about being a celebrity is every piece of your life is covered, and in some cases uncovered, and that makes it hard for people who are in the spotlight, so that's part of the bad that comes along with the good of being famous, but she handled it well, i think. i think she did the best she could under sometimes trying and difficult circumstances, and ifrs always there to try to help, whether they were good times or bad times, i wanted to be somebody who was there to help and i had the highest regard for her certainly as an entertainer and also as a human
being, and i'm right now still shocked and sad because she was not just an entertainer to me, she was somebody i worked for, somebody that i knew, that i care about deeply and whose family i know and love and i'm so sad for the family, for her daughter and everybody. i'm still in a state of shock. >> when we were just interviewing a pop culture expert who knew whitney houston and interviewed her, john murray, made reference of a group of people she surrounded herself with recently, maybe perhaps they weren't the best people for her to have around her. do you know anything about this? >> i don't know about the people she's had around her recently. certainly when i was working with her and serving on her foundation board, which i did up until the 2000s, that she had certainly the support of her mother who had always been by her side and a group of close friends. of course when you're as big a star as whitney houston there are always people clamoring to
be by your side and help you in your career so there was no lack of that, there was no lack of people coming forward to try to assist her with her career or be close to her, but in recent years, i'm not aware of all the people that were around her, and i do know that she was always close to her mother, and her mother had a very, very strong and i think positive influence on her. >> of course that being the great sissy houston. we'll look at some shots of the beverly hilton where knbc a station in l.a. reported she died and body was found at 3:43 today. they're saying there's no obvious sign of drug use so far, no obvious sign of foul play so far. >> thank god. >> thank god is right. reverend watkins another thing one of our guests was telling whitney she was a girl from whitney, that she was sort of
tough. did you find that? she'd just take you down or call in to wendy williams' radio show i'll meet you out back. stop talking about me. did you find this to be true? >> in later years i know that she may have challenged some people. in the early years, most of the press was very positive, and i think she was, it was in the 1980s and early 1990s, she was america's golden girl, and everything she touched turned to gold. her albums sold at breakneck speed, set records for the number of units she sold and whenever she made appearances, i remember when i was even i guess the very first time i met her was before we had her come to the white house was at an event in new york city, the united negro college fund and we were all seated and she was seated as well and she came to every single person seated on the bench and said "hi, how are you, i'm whitney houston." i thought what a classy person to do that.
that to me is who she is and was. >> we are getting word the co-founder of def jam records russell simmons "she is one of the greatest singers this world has ever heard." we are covering the story of whitney houston's death at age 48, her body was found in the beverly hilton hotel, she was in los angeles for the grammys. police went into her room at 3:23 this afternoon. the lapd say there is no obvious sign of drug use, no obvious sign of foul play. they are continuing their investigation. right now to jinah kim at our nbc station in l.a. for the latest. jinah, what you can tell us? >> we're waiting for another update by the beverly hills plr police department. they had the press conference, they were called at 3:23 this afternoon, that is pacific time. they responded within two minutes and paramedics began
working on her feverishly. up until that time apparently bystanders had also been trying to revive her, and then emergency crews got to work, but despite their best efforts for half an hour, she was declared dead about 33 minutes later at 3:55 p.m. pacific time. now detectives are still on scene at the beverly hills hotel, that is where the grammy awards are taking place tomorrow and that is where clive davis, her mentor, the man she was supposed to be paying tribute to along with everyone else at the grammy awards tomorrow night was staying, that was where he was having a grammy party and that is where everything was happening and her room was apparently on the fourth floor. it's not clear how long she had already not been breathing by the time she was discovered this afternoon, but you were talking earlier about the nightclub that she was at allegedly last night, we're trying to confirm whether it was last night or the night before, but she was at a club
called true in hollywood and apparently there is now video surfacing online that we have seen of the last time she was seen in public, which is at this true club, and she was singing "yes, jesus loves me" or according to perez hilton "loved me." she was singing a couple of lines, gets off the stage and according to what we saw she doesn't look extraordinarily, you know disturbed or disstressed or anything. she looks fairly normal and so that just kind of adds to the surprise and shock of the news that we received today. nobody knows or we have not gotten any word about what she did after she was at that club but that was a last time that she was seen in public. she was well enough to sing a song on stage, and then a few hours later she wasi hotel room. >> unbelievable. and do you know any more developments coming out of the
investigation? >> we know that detectives have the entire place swarmed, and this actually cast just a horrendous, somber mood over whees ea celebratory event in los angeles. lots of streets are closed off, taken place at the place she was discovered dead. it will be a difficult day tomorrow. i can't imagine with the investigation going on, developments constantly happening, what we're going to expect tomorrow, but also to reiterate a point you had made, it was interesting that detectives did not find any signs of criminal intent or foul play and they did not find any drug par fre nail why or evidence that drugs were involved in her death. >> do you know if clive davis'
party is going on tonight, because of her relationship in his life? >> apparently his list of guests include quincy jones, ce-lo green, you talk about the biggest names in r&b and they were all on the guest lists aparentally and i can't imagine that with this development that will still be going on but we'll try to get that confirmed for you. >> thank you, jinah kim, we'll check back with you in a moment. aerial photos of the beverly hilton, sad, sad news, the place of a great tragedy today as whitney houston's body was led out of there this afternoon around 4:00 pacific time. whitney houston dead at 48. the cause of her death is unknown. however the los angeles police say there's no evidence of foul play, no obvious evidence of drug use. that is under investigation right now. let's go to lolo ochinocchi, "today" show correspondent, what do you make of this? >> first of all it's devastating
news and shocking. it's a true, true loss to music. she's one of the greatest entertainers the music industry has ever known and it's completely devastating. >> what do you think we're going to remember the most? you're a pop culture expert. we've been talking about the ups and downs and everyone cites her voice as one of the greatest voices ever. what do you think her legacy? >> it will be her voice. there's no doubt that whitney houston was one of the greatest entertainers of all-tile. many say she had a god-given voice, something that came from on high. it was effortless when she opened her mouth and she really not only delivered lyrics, she touched your core when she sang so i think more than anything f tremendous talent. >> what do you think culturally she did. >> culturally in many ways luke a jackie robinson type character. whitney houston entered into
everyone's homes, not just black homes, she was the ambassador for the r&b music and african-american culture and one of those entertainers that black people felt did us proud. >> and i mean, she crossed all race boundaries and barriers i have to say. >> absolutely. >> i was a huge fan of whitney houston's and all of my friends were. we all couldn't get enough of her and couldn't go to as many concerts as we possibly could. >> she single-handedly defined music in the '80s, ruled the pop culture charts enthe billboard charts. i don't think any young girl in the '80s didn't stand in front of the mirror with the hair brush and sing whitney houston songs. >> black or white, it was not exclusive. in the last few years of her life, we're talking so much about her great voice but i think it's so sad that it seems we talk so much about her
substance abuse. is that because we're living in the age where every single facet of the celebrities' lives is covered to an absurd degree? >> we are living in an age where everyone's life is covered, the minutia of everyone's life is covered on facebook, twitter and all social media. keep in mind whitney houston's breakdown was public. it didn't happen privately or discretely. the reality show "being bobby browne" didn't happen. when she appeared as michael jackson's 30th anniversary of his career looking emaciated, there were signs this would be the end but in recent years people felt she was turning her life around and set to star in the movie "sparkle" supposed to be her first film in 15 years so it comes as a surprise to a number of people because they believed she was on the comeback. >> one of our guests was saying that she would come back, she would be clean, she'd be able to
perform but was so erratic she'd stumble again. and that was her problem, that she was erratic. what do you think about that? >> i think it was difficult for her to stage a comeback because one, you have prying eyes. two, her voice is not what it used to be and ravaged by drug abuse and three, i think it was difficult for her to perform before people and not be the whitney houston of the '80s, not be the one who could hit the "star-spangled banner" notes anymore. she heard the criticism and i think that affected her deeply. >> we're getting word from corey booker, the mayor of newark, whitney houston's hometown, she always felt connected to. he said "a legend has died as the world mourns the loss. we feel an especially deep sadness. she went from a newark church to the global stage but always remained a deep part of pride in our collective heart. she will be missed. our prayers are with her family." do you think she brought a lot of the newark you have itness
with her, as one of our guests had said, always a girl from newark? >> well i think the great thing about whitney houston is that she was the epitome of poise and class and polish but she had that newark in her, she was a tough girl and if you rubbed her the wrong way she had no problem letting you know. it was an interesting dichotomy, the voice of an angel but if she needed to be tough with you as a number of people came to understand, wendy williams being one of them, she would call you to the carpet and not above letting you have it. >> right which was something that was very appealing about her, you're referencing when wendy williams had a radio show and wasn't she making fun of whitney and dissing whitney and finally whitney called in one day. >> yes, wendy wil namz hliams h having a good time at whitney houston's expense and the newark in whitney came out and she decided that she would let wendy williams know that she was not
happy with a number of the things she was saying on the radio. >> what do you think the lesson is of whitney houston's life? >> well, i think one of the themes is to stay away from drugs. it's so trite and obvious to say, not saying her death is in any way drug related but i think one of the deep lessons people take away from this is that this woman was so deeply talented, and to have had her life marred by substance abuse was the greatest tragedy of all. >> truly was. do you think she will be remembered for the voice? >> absolutely. i mean, anyone, all you have to do is listen to "the star-spangled banner" and you know that voice was other worldly and if you listen to any of her songs, the fun pop hits like "i wanna dance with somebody" and then the classics like "the greatest love of all," "saving all my love for you," "you give good love." this woman you can put her music
on today and it resonates, it's timeless music and she is truly the epitome of the word legend. the word legend is used to easily. everyone is a legend, everybody is a diva. whitney houston embodies legend, a true icon. >> reverend sharpton told us earlier she took the diana ross stardom and ramped it up and took it to a much higher level, this uber super stardom. is that the way you thought of her? ? absolutely. here's the thing, whitney benefited from, she came into our homes through the world of music video. >> right, of course. >> so she was not only a beautiful voice but she was an incredible -- see had an incredible face, an incredible physique, incredible physicality so people responded to her on a visceral level. she looked like a model but had the voice of an angel. >> do you think she didn't control her image well enough, making bad decisions to appear on the reality show?
>> the reality show was a terrible decision. i don't think it did irreparable harm to her career but it didn't do anything in the media to help her reputation and it was clear that she was not in control of what was going on in her life at that time. >> we're getting a lot of reaction from people. reverend jesse jackson has said, "like the rest of the world i am terribly shocked and saddened by the passing of miss whitney houston. i watched her growing up singing in the church choir singing under the leadership of reverend thomas. her mother is an outstanding singer. whitney was one of the outstanding voices of our time and there's a hole in the sky and hole in the music world." we've heard from russell simmons, "i'm deeply saddened by the passing of whitney houston, one of the greatest singers this world has ever heard. my thoughts and prayers are with her beautiful child and the
entire family. this is a tough time for the community. may she rest in peace and may we all dance with somebody tonight." very moving. >> very moving. the tributes from a number of celebrities, toni braxton essentially said that whitney houston laid the blueprint for a number of singers out today, everyone from adelle to mariah carey owe her a huge debt of gratitude. i expect you to hear at the grammys her voice evoked many times. >> that voice was truly unique, straight from heaven, listen to one of her biggest hits "the greatest love of all." ♪ because the greatest love of all is happening to me ♪ ♪ i found the greatest love of
all inside of me ♪ ♪ the greatest love of all is easy to achieve ♪ ♪ learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all ♪ >> okay, take this number and call -- ♪ i believe the children are our future ♪ ♪ teach them well and let them lead the way ♪ ♪ show them all the beauty they possess inside ♪ ♪ give them a sense of pride to make it easier ♪ ♪ let the children's laughter remind us how we used to ♪
♪ be i decided long ago never to walk in anyone's shadow ♪ ♪ if i fail, if i succeed, at least i'll live as i believe ♪ ♪ no matter what they take from me, they can't take away my dignity ♪ ♪ because the greatest love of all is happening to me ♪ ♪ i found the greatest love >> there we are listening to one of the greatest hits certainly by one of the greatest voices we will ever know, whitney houston dead at the age of 48. i have lola ogunnaike of the "today" show with me. you listen to a lot of her hits,
not just talking about the fun dance tunes but there is a gospel quality. listening to "the greatest love of all" that had a spiritual tone to it. >> i think you're absolutely right and you have to keep in mind whitney is from the church, that is where her roots are from, she was born and raised in the church, grew up listening to gospel music t is the backbone of her music so even her high chart toppers thereof a groundedness, a soulfulness and deep gospel of element in the music. >> there was such a universality about her and her appeal. you're a pop culture expert. everybody i knew, every race, everybody loved whitney houston, everybody wanted to be whitney houston. what was it about her that made her such a breakout star? >> when you have talent like that, it's beyond race. she was just, no one had heard a voice like that before. it was when she opened her mouth, it was just effortless.
you never got the sense that she even strained to hit the highest of notes. they just tumbled out of her mouth so easily, and you really got the sense that when you were watching her sing that you were watching someone that was just other worldly, that this talent was divine. >> it was also even more than that, even beyond her voice. there was something about her that resonated with everybody. was it she was so glamorous? what was it? >> well, it's something i said before, i mean she was incredibly beautiful, she was gorgeous. she was, she epitomized cool, and she had something about her, everybody wanted her hair. everybody wanted to dress like her. she just seemed, she seemed at once worldly but also extremely accessible and there was just something about the quality of her music that you just felt like you wanted to be whitney houston's friend. you wanted to be standing next to her, like i said before, with your hair brush in your hand singing along to "i want to
dance with somebody." i remember spending many an afternoon doing just that. >> we were probably doing it at the same time. i want to go a little bit over the success she had, 12 number bun billboard singles, 33 billboard hot 100 songs, four number one albums, she had eight billboard 200 albums, just an extraordinary career. >> oh, two emmy awards, six grammy awards, 30 billboard music awards, 22 american music awards. whitney was the first album to debut at number one on the billboard charts. she sold well over 200 million albums worldwide. this woman was a musical phenomen phenomenon. >> she was a musical phenomenon. do you think that maybe as time goes by that is what she will be remembered for, that will be her legacy? >> absolutely. absolutely. i think if anything what will happen in the wake of her death is that people will rediscover just how important to music she was, and a younger generation
who may not have been as familiar with whitney houston will discover her music. >> we certainly, certainly hope so. i want to ask you to stand by for a moment, lola and go to reverend joe reverend joe watkins if he's still with us. reverend watkins? do we still have reverend watkins with us? >> i'm with you. >> yes. i am wondering your thoughts as we are reading statements from mayor cory booker, quincy jones, citing what a loss it is for us. >> i just think the statements that are rolling in are wonderful. russell simmons what he had to say was wonderful. i loved what jesse jackson had to say about her. mayor cory booker his words were wonderful, appropriate, and comforting at the same time. and i'm just still in a state of shock because she is somebody for whom i worked and who i knew and who i thought the world of, and she was such a talent, and a
good person and fun person to be around. and i'm just still shocked at the fact she passed at such an early age. our heart and prayers go out to her family, to her daughter, brothers and sisters, and her mom. >> as do all our prayers and thoughts are with them tonight. reverend watkins, tell us about the first time you met whitney houston as she was coming to the white house to meet president bush. >> well, i actually met her at a dinner, but i met her at a dinner in new york city for the united negro college fund and i thought she was so elegant and warm, and she just greeted everybody personally before the dinner started, said hi, i'm whitney houston, as if we didn't know who she was. here it is this superstar introducing herself to everybody in this wonderful way, and then of course i was talking with one of her staff people who said is it possible for her to come to
the white house to meet the president. i said yeah, let me work on that. and we set it up for her to come to washington, d.c. to the white house to meet with the president. she came down with her family. and before she spent time in the oval office, i took her to the oval office to meet with the president, and mrs. bush, and we spent time in the white house mess, and talked to her a couple of hours. it was just a wonderful time to get to know whitney, her mother and her brothers who were with her on that trip. and we had a great time, of course. president bush was wonderful with whitney in the oval office, and whitney was wise to ask to see mrs. bush. she got a personal tour after that of the personal family quarters in the white house. >> what did president bush and whitney houston discuss? >> they talked about the -- president bush was always funny. he listens to a lot of country western music, but he did know whitney houston's music because
she was so outstanding and she was such a great superstar, and she was a crossover talent. you know, there were millions of people around the world singing her songs and listening to her music. the president was honored to have her at the white house and he talked about her family and talked to her about his family, and she asked questions about at the time they had a dog named milly, she asked about milly the dog and it was just a wonderful, warm conversation. and then a few months after that she had a great hbo concert at the norfolk naval air base. my buddy craig ray and i did some work with her on that hbo special called welcome home heroes, where she welcomed home heroes from the persian gulf war. it was one of the highest rated hbo specials at the time. what a talent she was, what a
pleasure and joy to be around. >> you were with her when she would go off touring. what was it like when you were touring with her, and what exactly was your job for her at that time? >> as a consultant, part of the executive team really. when we were on tour, i remember we went to -- did a tour in south africa. one of the things i did, i looked out for whitney and everybody in the group, the history and politics of south africa, so they would have a sense of what's happening there, what the past history was, what was going on at the present time, so they would be sensitive to it. and then of course i was there at every concert, sometimes i would lead everybody in prayer, sometimes whitney would say would you lead us in prayer, reverend watkins, before they went on stage. but i would be at all of the concerts, i had an all access pass, i would be back stage, in the wings, watching as they performed, and it wasu course, the day starts late.
there's practice on the days before a concert takes place, you go out to the venue, you eat at the venue, you watch everybody in the empty stadium, and then comes the big night. it is always very exciting. >> and i would imagine to watch that voice come out of her every night. >> absolutely. >> was a gift. >> what a gift. what a gift she had. >> what an experience you had. that's extraordinary. >> second to none. >> we have a statement from quincy jones i want to read. quincy jones says i am absolutely heartbroken at the news of whitney's passing. ashford and simpson first made me aware of whitney when she was 16 and i always regretted not having the opportunity to work with her. she was a true original and a talent beyond compare. i will miss her terribly. >> we all will. we all will miss her. >> reverend joe watkins, we're taking a break for a moment. you're watching coverage of
whitney houston's death. superstar whitney houston dead at the age of 48. we are continuing coverage of this breaking story out of l.a., the weekend of the grammys. we'll be right back. [ female announcer ] the best things in life are the real things. nature valley trail mix bars are made with real ingredients you can see. like whole roasted nuts, chewy granola, and real fruit. nature valley trail mix bars. 100% natural. 100% delicious.
i'm page hopkins, you're watching mds ms.'s coverage of a sad news story we've been following. whitney houston, superstar pop icon, dead at the age of 48. she died in los angeles earlier today. let's go to gina kim for nbc in los angeles. what can you tell us is the latest? >> page, we can tell you at this hour the beverly hills police department, many detectives are swarming the beverly hilton hotel in beverly hills where singer whitney houston was discovered this afternoon dead in her fourth floor room. she was discovered at