Home Celebrity Whitney Houston’s Mom Writes Unflinching Memoir, Calls The Singer a “Heifer”

Cissy Houston gave us just a taste of what she has on her mind last night with Oprah. Her book, “Remembering Whitney,” is the most candid, frank, harsh and unabashed since Keith Richards “Life.” This is so unusual for a celebrity memoir. But with Whitney gone, Cissy has nothing to lose. You get the feeling that these are the things she’s been waiting to say for 20 years or more. Whitney’s fans may not be so happy. Cissy’s book vindicates legendary singer Sam Moore’s CNN interview from last year– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8SBeaR-gSA. It’s heartbreaking but Whitney was out of control, a drug addict, self-possessed and determined not listen to anyone.

On Oprah, Cissy says of Whitney: “I made her what she was.” In the book, Cissy — who was a famous back up singer but never had the career of her cousin Dionne Warwick, or friend Aretha Franklin — is bitter about Whitney maybe attaining what she never could. Cissy recalls: “She had been watching me in sessions and onstage for years, picking up pacing, breathing, and microphone techniques, and then adding her own little nuances, too. My son Michael used to joke with me about Nippy’s technique—“ Ma,” he’d say, “Nippy should be in jail for stealing all your riffs and everything. You should sue her.”

It didn’t help that Whitney let people think Aretha Franklin, for whom Cissy had worked for many years, was her godmother. “I would tease Ree about supposedly being Nippy’s godmother— a story that started years before, when I was touring with her and she came over to our house on Dodd Street. Nippy was so impressed with Aretha that she started telling all her friends she was her godmother, and the story stuck because Ree never denied it. Eventually, reporters picked it up and everybody assumed it was true. And Nippy never did stop telling people that.”

Houston moved out of the family home an into an apartment with her friend Robyn Crawford at age 18. Crawford was gay, and Cissy did not like her. “What made Nippy’s move particularly hard for me was her decision to room with Robyn Crawford in an apartment in Woodbridge, New Jersey. She knew how I felt about Robyn, but she was determined to live with her anyway. It wasn’t that there was serious tension between Robyn and me— we just didn’t see eye to eye. Still, we tried to be respectful of each other and of our places in Nippy’s life, and we figured out how to give each other the necessary space. We had our love for Nippy in common, and though we rarely agreed, we were at least able to keep things from being too uncomfortable when we were all together.”

Later Crawford moved with Whitney into her big mansion in Mendham, New Jersey. “Early on, Robyn Crawford nicknamed me “Big Cuda”— short for barracuda— and that suited me just fine. The name stuck, and from then out, whenever I’d be coming somewhere to see Nippy, people would warn each other that Big Cuda was coming.”

But it was Crawford who had the guts to tell Cissy about Whitney’s drug problems early on, long before Bobby Brown arrived on the scene. What follows is Cissy’s eye-view of the fights, interventions, and downward spiral that no one could control. At one point, Whitney rejects rehab but lets Cissy stay in her house with her. It doesn’t work, and Whitney gets worse. Bobby Brown doesn’t help, and Cissy sure doesn’t like him.

Cissy pulls no punches. And while she loves Whitney, she’s also hard on her. She calls her a “heifer,” meaning bossy like a cow. She sort of becomes afraid of her as time goes by.

People will say Cissy wrote the book for money, and maybe she did. But let her have it. This is as unflinching a memoir as you’re going to read, and well worth it. At least for once we get the true story, horrible as it is and was, by the person who knows the story. I knew all these people from the mid 1980s. I still think about walking around Whitney’s Olympic sized pool with her in the late 80s. I don’t think there was much drug use then. She was such a funny, sweet kid. And Robyn, who was tough, was so devoted to her. It seemed like their future was limitless. That it ended this badly is still unbelievable.

 

 

26 replies to this post
  1. I think Ms Cissy was a bit jealous of whitney but not to the extent that folks are accusing her of. As the mother she was I don’t think she tried hard enough to get Whitney the help she so desperately needed. If I had been Cissy Houston I would’ve done everything within my power to save her from the drugs and to hell with everyone else. If it meant putting her in an extremely secured place where she could not escape or leave because of who she was I would’ve done so. No one tried hard enough to help her get rid of the drug demons. Considering the facr Whitney was stubborn I would’ve got someone to arrest her and keep her in jail or somewhere locked up until she got sobered from the drugs. No one tried hard enough to help her is the bottom line . She should be remembered for her music and her talented singing and not the drugs. She was a gift from God and it’ll be the next lifetime before we ever, ever get a singer like Whitney – talent like this is very rare. God gave and God took – rest in peace Whitney and find it with God in heaven since you couldn not find it here on earth.

  2. Everyone is down on Cissy for telling the truth, at least as she saw it. This is important – it could save the life of the next Whitney or Amy Winehouse or whoever. This is all too common a story in entertainment. As for being jealous, no, I think she was overjoyed with her daughter’s success – just upset that she threw it all away, let it consume and destroy her. No mother can watch their kid do to themself what she did and not be emotionally shattered. Telling the raw, unvarnished truth is part of the recovery process.

  3. What the hell was Cissy Houston thinking? Talking about Whitney in such a vindictive and spiteful manner. What kind of mother says these things about her deceased daughter? I am livid at the lack of love shown by Cissy Houston. My view of her has changed dramatically. All in all, it seems that Cissy was hiding feelings of jealousy and resentment towards her daughter. Whitney achieved and lived a career Cissy never could. Cissy knew that her sons Michael and Gary were involved in Whitney’s drug use. This story gets worse and it makes me see what type of family Whitney really had. Whitney is not here to defend herself. How could her mother do something like this.

  4. When it is all said and done only God KNOWS the whole truth. I will give Whitney Houston the benefit of the doubt. She is not here to defend what is being said about her. However, what kind of mother would speak so vile of her dead child? No matter how bad a child is when they have died you should either be crying about their wasted life or putting it to bed and never to be heard from again until God judges. This piece is a shame. This constant drum beat of homosexuality and drugs will be the death of this world. God have mercy on us all.

  5. Honestly: Does anyone believe their mother would be able to write the most truthful book about them? Would I have liked my mother to write a book about me? Never. Would I believe I could write about my children? Again: Never.

    Anyone who reads this book must be aware it shows only one facet of Whitney’s life, from one person’s perspective. And one who, if to be judged by this article, is possessive as well as jealous (which doesn’t mean there couldn’t be love in there as well.) Her daughter learned singing and microphone techniques from her, and she calls it “stealing”? I would call it learning. If those techniques worked for Whitney but not as well for her mother, there was a reason for that.

    That said, I feel for her grieving family.

  6. Celebrities are people and should, in these sort of cases, be judged as themselves, not as role models or the fictional characters they portray. Foibles, being what they are, can be more difficult for celebs because they use their personal power and money, to retard efforts to help them by their loved ones, managers and handlers.

    Not only are celebs judged more harshly, they’re frequently more vulnerable to the weaknesses of the flesh. They find themselves trying to juggle the multiple personalities of who they are and who they’re perceived to be by the public.

    My point is that the pressures on celebrities are many times greater, the expectations of them dealing with those problems greater, but their abilities normal or less so because, let’s face it, unless they’ve had professional training or help, they react like anyone else. So it’s easy to to expect more of them and if it’s not forthcoming, then they’re blamed as somehow being deficient — of not living up to expectations held by people who didn’t even know them.

  7. I think it will be a great read. I feel for Cissy; Whitney is her only daughter and she must be heartbroken over her death. Fame, power and drug addiction are a deadly combination. My heart goes out to Cissy and I am appreciative of her writing what sounds like a very honest book about the daughter she tried to save.

  8. Why does anyone need to know? The woman was incredibly talented, probably had too much too soon, and left in her unhappy way. For a mom to debase her daughter in such a way is questionable. I can see what Whitney’s life was like with this egotistic mother.

  9. If anyone doubts that addiction is a family system disease, doubt no more. Could this mother be more obviously jealous of, and vindictive towards her daughter? I think not. I’m only sorry that Miss Houston was unable to extricate herself from her position as her mother’s scapegoat.

    The mother’s martyr act doesn’t fool me for a minute. These kinds of families/parents create and then kill addicts. Anyone w/a drug problem reading this: Get help NOW; you are not who you’ve been told you are. Any family members (aka martyrs) of addicts reading this: You are far sicker than the sickest addict walking this earth. Get out of the addict’s way and GET YOUR OWN HELP NOW.

  10. It’s disgusting that her mother is so resentful of her daughter’s success. She should’ve been glad to help. She should’ve been thrilled by her success. You get the idea that Whitney was a rotten person and her mother probably wasn’t much better. And you assume that Whitney was gay or bi.

  11. What is the big deal here? So she could sing some. So what? A drug addled crack ho is a drug addled crack ho no matter how much money she has to support her habits.

  12. No offense intended to Whitney’s mother but one sure gets the feeling that she was the antithesis of a loving, caring mother. Sounds more like a jealous stepmother than anything else. As we wonder what Whitney was running from early in her pre-Bobby life, perhaps we now know.

  13. Whitney had her demons just like anyone else, her’s was just more publicized. Even w/this book, her undying legacy should always be her music. She had such an amazing gift & that’s something no one can deny. Learning her true life story will never tarnish the image I have of her. We’re all a little ugly on the inside although most will never admit it. RIP Ms. Whitney Houston… may you find your solace in heaven that you never attained on earth.

  14. Homosexuality ruined Whitney from the git-go! That’s what momma’s trying to warn the rest of us (strained through the Politically correct process). Sorry if y’all don’t like it – the reality is that nobody can live a normal life with a perverted heart!

  15. Gee, what a sweet, sweet woman. Must’ve been a wonderful, gentle, loving mother.

    The root of the world’s problems stem from kids not being loved unconditionally – or just not being loved… period. Then their entire lives are spent trying to fill the blackhole left behind with: attention, fame, power, money, sex… and on and on. They’ve been cheated and they are vulnerable, selfish, hateful, spiteful, and are easily preyed upon and led astray by $atan.

    Kids are angels straight out of God’s spiritual realm – and when not treated as such, they grow to become monsters of society in one way or another.

  16. She may have done it for the money, if you believe that then don’t buy the book. Whitney was nothing like her fans would like to believe I am sure, she was a train wreck almost as bad as Amy Winehouse.

What do you think?