Michael Caulfield/WireImage for BET NetworkThis Saturday, February 11, marks the fifth anniversary of Whitney Houston‘s untimely death at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles.
The then-48-year-old icon was found in the bathtub of her hotel suite, unconscious, as guests proceeded to gather downstairs for her mentor Clive Davis‘ annual pre-Grammy Awards party.
Essence magazine Entertainment Director Cori Murray, who interviewed Houston several weeks before her death, remembers the moment she first heard the news of Whitney’s passing, after having seen the superstar during that fateful Grammy weekend five years ago.
“She was acting a little erratic…then to then hear, what I think a day or two later,” Murray recalls. “I was meeting a colleague at a network and we’re talking and our West Coast editor calls me…and all she said was ‘she’s dead’ and I knew immediately that she meant Whitney Houston. I was shocked.”
Half a decade after her death — officially the result of accidental drowning, with cocaine use and heart disease as contributing factors — Houston’s legacy and influence live on.
“I think there are people who genuinely want to see her remain as a status of ‘Whitney Houston, the greatest singer of all time,'” says Murray. “It’s like, ‘OK, yes, we now officially know what was the cause of death,’ but you know what? Let’s just close that chapter and remember the good times. So, I think that’s what people are trying to do, even with the Lifetime biopic that Angela Bassett directed. That was a beautiful tribute to her.”
She adds, “No matter how she died, she’s left behind people who are extremely heartbroken over her. I hope she felt loved.”
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