Whitney Houston was destined to become as revered as her godmother, Aretha Franklin, before drugs and a toxic marriage caused her to hit rock bottom. A look at the pop icon’s rise and fall, and her final days, when it looked like Houston was going to make a comeback:
[Clive Davis] enlisted Diane Warren to create songs for a new album. Warren tells me that she put herself in Houston’s mind when she wrote a song about struggle and rebirth, entitled ‘I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.’ As soon as Whitney heard the lyrics—’I thought I’d never make it through, I had no hope to hold on to I was not meant to break’—she told Warren that she’d written her life.
But Warren and David Foster weren’t sure that Whitney had the vocal strength to sing it. In the end, she not only sang it, says Warren, ‘she sang the shit out of it.’ According to Gary Catona, 75 percent of Whitney’s vocal strength had returned by the time of her appearance at the American Music Awards in November 2009. When she came onstage in a white gown, singing the Warren song, the crowd leapt to its feet. ‘The buzz was: Holy shit!’ says Warren. ‘It was one of the best performances I’d ever seen. It was: Whitney is back!’
“The Devils in the Diva.” — Mark Seal, Vanity Fair