NATION

Whitney Houston, superstar of records, films, dies

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The news about Whitney Houston's sudden death Saturday has left music fans around the world shocked and heartbroken.

(Photo: Associated Press)

"She had an incredible voice, and it's truly sad for the music industry that she is gone," says Jennifer Gorman, a long time fan.

Houston was found dead in her Beverly Hills hotel room around 3:45 p.m. Los Angeles time.

Her death at 48 and her enormous talent, suddenly silenced, has left many at a loss for words.

"All the great ones had their demons, and we have to respect them for both their performances, and their low points," remarked fan John Krawczyk.

Houston had all the glitz and glamor of a Hollywood superstar. And of course, there was her voice.

"She had a gift, and I think people loved that about her," says Maralyn Hirschenbaum, a fan who lives in D.C.

Houston's electrifying 1991 performance of the star-spangled banner at Super Bowl 25 remains a YouTube favorite--for Krawczyk, it's perhaps the best rendition ever.

"It made me love America at least five times as much as prior to that," he says.

But Saturday night, the world learned that golden voice had been silenced forever. Police are investigating whether Houston's death was from natural causes or something else.

"There was no obvious signs of any criminal intent at this point," says Beverly Hills Police Lieutenant Mark Rosen. "It's currently being investigated by Beverly Hills Police Detectives."

"That's very young, a tragedy. I feel sad," said Cait Chambers, one of many fans outside Georgetown's "Blues Alley" Saturday night, who reflected on a life cut short. "She should be a role model. An inspiration. Her music bringing people up. It's sad."

At her peak, Houston was the Golden Girl of the music industry. She ruled the radio waves from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, selling 170 million albums, singles and videos world-wide.

"She had the most beautiful voice. I loved listening to her," Hirschenbaum says.

But in recent years, her life had become a struggle. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills. Her pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit those spine-tingling high notes.

Hirschenbaum said it was sad seeing what happened to her life.

"I think she was involved with the wrong people, unfortunately I think she tried to come back and the drugs overtook her life," Hirschenbaum said.

Houston told ABC's Diane Sawyer, "The biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy."

Houston would go into rehab twice before she declared herself drug-free in 2010. But in the interim, there were missed concert dates, an airport security stop due to drugs and public melt-downs.

"I knew it was difficult with her voice and all," says Apple Gross, a fan living in D.C. "I didn't think it would go out like this. Not like this."

Still, the notion of this dynamic performer, dead at 48, is a shock.

"Whitney Houston was a legend, an icon, and she lifted us up," Krawczyk says.

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