Today marks the fifth anniversary of Whitney Houston’s untimely death.
The 48-year old singing icon was found at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles inside 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 interviewed the late icon several weeks before her death and remembers the moment she first heard the news of Houston’s passing. She recalls seeing the superstar during that fateful Grammy weekend five years ago.
“She was acting a little erratic,” she told ABC News. “To then hear, what, I think a day or two later [that she died].”
“I was meeting a colleague at a network, and we’re talking, and our West Coast Editor calls me,” Murray continued. “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 at a status of ‘Whitney Houston, the greatest singer of all time,'” Murray said. “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,” said Murray. “That was a beautiful tribute to her.”
Bassett, one of Houston’s co-stars from the 1995 film, “Waiting to Exhale,” told ABC News back in 2015 that it was important to direct a film that celebrated Houston.
“You know, it starts on the page,” Bassett said, referring to the film’s script. “So what they had written I thought had the potential to serve her legacy and her life well. It wasn’t a script that slung arrows or slung mud at her or brought her down, you know?”
Murray concluded, “No matter how she died, she’s left behind people who are extremely heartbroken over her. I hope she felt loved.”