Home Celebrity Here’s the Real Whitney from 2009

I took this picture at Clive Davis’s 2009 Grammy party. Whitney performed a whole set, and she was more on target than ever. I have video from that night, too. It was a rare moment for Whitney in the 2000s, when she was on form. She had a big talk that night with Alicia Keys about writing a song for her, and hung out with Mary J. Blige her good friend. Whitney’s various annual appearances at the party were always an issue. One year she showed up with sister in law Pat Houston, was introduced to Al Gore and had no idea who he was. Last year. she came to rehearsals completely stoned, red eyed, in a manic mood. At the actual show honoring her cousin Dionne Warwick, she just went off script and off the page. She was a mess. But for the 2009 show, she was our Whitney. I hadn’t seen a show like that with her since she performed songs at a New York event for AmFar (this when they were  a decent orgsnization) to promote her “My Love is Your Love” album. Here’s what I wrote in 1999:

“So many stars showed up at the AmFAR bash that it would he hard to name them all. Arista’s ingenious Davis had a posse that included Whitney Houston—who wowed the crowd with a few numbers from her new album, “My Love Is Your Love,”– her mom Cissy Houston, Barry Manilow, Mary J. Blige, Kenneth Babyface Edmonds, LA Reid, Wyclef Jean of the Fugees, Mase, and the tiresomely ubiquitous Sean Puffy Combs. By contrast, Barbara Walters had with her some heavy hitters: ABC News’s Roone Arledge and David Westin, as well as Disney/ABC head honcho Michael Eisner. Tom Hanks’s fan club included his wife, Rita Wilson, and director Ron Howard, and writers Nora Ephron and Nick Pileggi. Elsewhere around the room we spotted Christian Slater, looking spiffy in his tux, with playwright Warren Leight, celebrating a night off from “Sideman,” the Broadway hit written by Warren and starring Christian.”

photo of Whitney c2009, c2012 Roger Friedman. All rights reserved.

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
2 replies to this post
  1. I forgot to say that Whitney was absolutely among the most vocally talented singers to ever grace us with her presence and her legacy must include her musical success that started after Clive “discovered” her, signed her and hired Narada Michael Walden to produce that first album that sold 13 million copies and scored 7 Number 1 hits.

  2. Roger thank you for telling the truth about Whitney’s last year’s “performance” which truly was a sad and scary mess to watch.
    It is making me very angry that there is so much denial and spin put on her death because say what anyone will or may all of the legal perscription drugs were being used as a “bridge” and substitute to try and keep her steady from her crack is wack binges.
    Cocaine and crack in particular is about the hardest addiction to beat and if you carry other demons in your head and heart it’s just about impossible to completely cure from unless you have people in your life that are stronger than the pull of the pipe and the torment that plays in your head pulling you back to it.
    Whitney didn’t stand a chance. Much as Cissy may have wanted to see her baby girl well, much as her Auntie-cousin Dionne wanted her well, much as Bobby Christine wanted a sober mommie it wasn’t going to happen because they couldn’t bring themselves to do what would have given her her what likely would have been her only shot at it…having her declared incompetent due to drug induced psychosis and put her somewhere in a court ordered/ locked or island rehab facility like Clapton’s Crossroads in Antiga where she had to live for a year or so with lots and lots of emotional therapy to break her demons away from her and free her of her reason the drugs always won.
    Whitney’s death if the cause is ruled accidental overdose of perscription drugs would really be the “reason” but her addiction and the demons that made her go bump in the night for all those years since BEFORE BOBBY BROWN is still the cause.
    We call all hope she’s now at peace in the arms of the Lord she loved.

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