Singer Whitney Houston has died at the age of 48.
According to police, Houston was found unresponsive in her room at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., by a member of her entourage who called 911 at 3:43 p.m. Publicist Kristen Foster confirmed that the singer had died, and while the cause is still unknown, her storied history of drug abuse plagued her with particular menace in recent years.
Whitney became a massive icon in pop and R&B music with her self-titled debut album, released in 1985. It sold 25 million copies worldwide, with modern-classic songs “Saving All My Love for You,” “Greatest Love of All,” and “How Will I Know” kicking off a career that would see the release of seven albums and three film soundtracks; a winner of six Grammys, Houston sold over 200 million albums and singles worldwide. She earned 30 Billboard Awards, 22 American Music Awards and two Emmy Awards.
A commercial powerhouse and cover-model beauty, Houston infused light soul music within her mainstream pop arrangements. In recent years, Houston became known for erratic behavior, failed performances and a massively-publicized substance abuse problem which began to take hold in the mid-nineties. Her tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, which ended in 2007, was witnessed by the world as part of a reality television show in which the singer was often ill-tempered, disheveled and appeared to be on drugs.
Houston had been mostly off the celebrity radar in recent months, but was making attempts at staging a comeback. A story in the Hollywood Reporter said that the singer was under consideration for a spot on Simon Cowell’s Fox talent show “The X Factor.”
Bobby Brown was onstage mere hours after Houston's death, and broke down shortly after taking the stage. "First of all, I want to tell you that I love you all,” he said to the crowd according to the AP (via Entertainment Weekly). "Second, I would like to say, 'I love you Whitney.' The hardest thing for me to do is come on this stage."
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the singer's 2000 compilation album has already topped the iTunes charts, overtaking Adele's 21. Several of the passed star's singles have also appeared in the Top 100, with her classic cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" ranking fifth on the list.