DETROIT (WWJ) – Lots of people were in shock when they heard the news that superstar singer Whitney Houston is dead. Houston died suddenly Saturday at the age of 48, with no cause of death released.
It’s been widely reported Houston was in a hotel preparing for an appearance at longtime mentor Clive Davis’ birthday party when staffers discovered her dead in a bathtub. Houston’s daughter with fellow singer Bobby Brown was later rushed to the hospital, reportedly suffering a panic attack.
Detroit native Aretha Franklin was among the shocked. Franklin released a statement about Houston’s death that said: “I just can’t talk about it now. It’s so stunning and unbelievable. I couldn’t believe what I was reading coming across the TV screen. My heart goes out to Cissy, her daughter Bobbi Kris, her family and Bobby.”
WWJ’s Entertainment Reporter Terri Lee spoke with Gary Graff, music writer for the Oakland Press/Macomb Daily.
“She was one of the biggest artists in the world and she was very well loved, people loved her songs, people still connect with her songs,” said Graff.
Houston was one of music’s biggest and brightest stars. She was, in fact, one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone.
She also reigned on the silver screen, starring with Kevin Costner in the hit film “The Bodyguard” and alongside an ensemble cast in “Waiting to Exhale.”
Houston was in Detroit recently filming the remake of “Sparkle”, what will now be known as her final film.
Connie Sonnenberg worked as an extra where she had a chance to see the star up close.
“I thought she looked quite radiant and beautiful when I saw her. Looking from the orchestra pit out, we were probably three to six rows from her, and I thought she looked just fabulous,” said Sonnenberg.
“She did look at little older, but don’t we all over time,” she said.
Native Detroiter Elijah Connor frequently travels between his hometown of Detroit and New York City, where he spends a great deal of time pursuing his career as an actor and singer.
Connor returned home to Detroit to appear in “Sparkle” and found himself working right alongside Houston. “I sat right behind her in one of the scenes and when the director called cut, she turned around and said, ‘I’m so glad to be back on the set.’”
Conner said Houston’s personality was even bigger than her voice. ”And we all know how big and beautiful her voice was,” he said.
Sony Pictures says it will release “Sparkle” as planned in August. Houston’s death came on the eve of music’s biggest night - the Grammy Awards.
Catch up on news of Houston’s death from around the county: