Look back at Whitney Houston’s tragic death and celebrated life

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston

Three years ago this week, popular music lost one of its greatest nobles, and the immaculate voice against which all others are measured. On Feb. 11, 2012, iconic singer Whitney Houston was found unconscious in her Beverly Hills hotel, submerged in the suite’s bathtub. She was pronounced dead shortly after. She was 48.

In a twist of fateful irony, Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown remains on life support, more than a week after being found unconscious in her Roswell, Ga. home. After she was discovered by her longtime boyfriend Nick Gordon and a male friend on Jan. 31, Brown was placed in a medically induced coma. Her family is “praying for a miracle” regarding her recovery, MSNBC reports.

In light of this mournful event, we revisit Houston’s passing, from the weekend news that shocked the world, through Houston’s funeral at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark and her burial in Westfield.

Houston was found unconscious in Suite 434 of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, several hours before mogul Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy Awards Party, which she was scheduled to attend. She was found around 3:30 pm, PST, on Saturday, Feb. 11 and pronounced dead at 3:55 pm after attempts at CPR. In March, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office classified her death as an “accidental drowning” and that she had cocaine, Xanax, Benadryl, marijuana and flexeril in her system at the time of her death.

As the news of the Newark native’s death spread, so did the millions of heartbroken messages from friends, fans and fellow musicians and celebrities from across the globe. Makeshift memorials were formed outside her Beverly Hills hotel, and outside her childhood church in Newark.

Rev. Joe A. Carter addressed the media outside the New Hope Baptist Church following an early morning prayer service in honor of Whitney Houston who died Saturday at age 48.

New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where Houston spent much of her childhood and ultimately found her voice, filled Sunday morning to memorialize its most famous parishioner, with three services led by pastor Joe A. Carter.

“We thank God for the gift of her unique voice,” Carter said at one of the Feb. 12 services. “Others live to be 80 or 90 years old, but when they’re gone they leave us nothing to remember. Whitney left us so many wonderful memories. We remember, we rejoice for that phenomenal one of a kind gift.” New Hope Baptist Church

The 54th annual Grammy Awards were held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Feb. 12, a day after Houston’s death. The show scrambled to cobble together a tribute for Houston, and as the Grammys opened, host LL Cool J led a prayer for the singer. Jennifer Hudson later sang a simple, impassioned version of ‘I Will Always Love You.’

Bobbi Kristina Brown, then 18, was taken to Cedar-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles after suffering anxiety caused by her mother’s death. She was staying with Houston at the Beverly Hilton hotel. Brown was later identified as the sole beneficiary of Houston’s estate.

Houston’s body arrived in New Jersey, at Teterboro Airport, just before midnight on Feb. 13 and was brought to Whigham Funeral Home in Newark in a 12-car procession. It was announced soon after that Houston’s private funeral service would be held at New Hope Baptist Church, not at Prudential Center as previously reported.

A gathering of fans, local and out-of-state, adorned the fencing of the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark with flowers and memorials ahead of Houston’s funeral.

Clive Davis, Dionne Warwick, friends and family attended a private viewing for Whitney Houston at Whigham Funeral Home in Newark.

Many high-profile musicians, celebrities and personalities attended Houston’s Feb. 18 funeral, including Stevie Wonder, Oprah and Alicia Keys.
Her honorary aunt Aretha Franklin was unable to attend the service, citing leg spasms. Speakers included Tyler Perry, The Bodyguard co-star Kevin Costner, Clive Davis and aunt Dionne Warwick.

Houston was laid to rest at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield Feb. 19. She was buried just yards from her father John Houston. The gold hearse carrying her body played ‘I Will Always Love You’ as the driver wept openly.

The cemetery was eventually closed to fans after a swarm of onlookers overwhelmed the area with traffic.