While her tumultuous marriage, battles with substance abuse and finally, tragic death, tarnished Whitney Houston’s once golden reputation, the 1980s and early 1990s are still held up as Houston’s heyday — the era when Houston dominated the airwaves (and even one Super Bowl) with her unrivaled voice.
But even as she neared the peak of her success, Houston found super stardom rife with painful challenges, her longtime friend, gospel singer BeBe Winans, told “20/20.”
Houston, Winans said, was hurt that some argued her music wasn’t “black enough.”
“They’re saying I’m not black enough. I’m selling out,” Houston would say tearfully, Winans remembered.
Like other stars, Houston also missed being able to go out in public without being mobbed by crowds. One day, while in Detroit, “the girl from Jersey” — Houston is originally from Newark, N.J. — insisted she and friends go to a mall, despite warnings that it would be a bad idea.
“I said, ‘Whitney, you just can’t just go to the mall,’ [and she said], ‘Yes, I can,” Winans said. “We go to the mall and [after] about five minutes at the mall, there was a train following us. ”
“That troubled her because she didn’t want to live a double life,” he said. “She wanted to be that Jersey girl. And she fought to be her.”
Watch the full story on “One Moment in Time: The Life of Whitney Houston,” a two-hour “20/20″ special tonight at 9 p.m. ET.