Cissy Houston's Top 7 Revelations about Whitney Houston
Cissy Houston releases tell-all book on the anniversary of the singer's death.
Jan. 31, 2012— -- intro: Whitney Houston's mother, Cissy Houston, doesn't blame Bobby Brown for her daughter's drug use, which led to the singer's death at age 48 last February.
Cissy Houston writes about Brown and more in a new tell-all book about her daughter's life. "Remembering Whitney: My Story of Love, Loss and the Night the Music Stopped" is being released to coincide with the first anniversary of the singer's death.
Whitney Houston drowned in a hotel bathtub on Feb. 11, 2012, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Authorities said her death was complicated by cocaine use and heart disease.
Cissy Houston, an accomplished soul and gospel singer who has performed with the likes of Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin, doesn't hold back in the book, which she says she wrote because after "all the rumors and stories that got told about [Whitney], I just want people to know what kind of person she really was."
Houston writes that her daughter could "be nasty if she wanted to, but almost always, she was the sweetest, most loving person in the room." Still, she says, her daughter was great at keeping secrets, especially about her drug use, and the elder Houston is left wondering how well she really knew her.
Here are seven top revelations from Houston's book:
quicklist: title: How Cissy Houston Found Out Whitney Diedtext: Cissy Houston learned of her daughter's death on the eve of the 2012 Grammys. She writes she was at home alone. The doorbell of her apartment kept ringing, but no one was there, she writes. Not long after, her eldest son, Gary, called hysterically, shouting, "It's Nippy! ...They found her upstairs and I'm not going back up there!"
Cissy kept asking what was wrong with Nippy -- Whitney's childhood nickname -- but he wouldn't say until she asked him, "Gary, is she dead?"
He replied, "Yes, Mommy. She's dead."
Houston writes, "That was the moment my whole world shattered."
Houston writes that she takes solace in the ringing doorbell, which she believed was her daughter keeping her promise to come see her after the Grammys. "Somehow, some way, she came to see me, just as she said she would."
quicklist:title: Bobby Brown Did Not Introduce Whitney to Drugstext: Cissy Houston writes that although she disapproved of Whitney's husband, singer Bobby Brown, she did not "blame Bobby for introducing Nippy to drugs or for the things that ended up happening to her. At the same time, I also don't believe he did much to help her. ...When it came to getting clean, he and Nippy never seemed to be in the same place at the same time, and that made the process much harder."
Cissy says she disliked Brown from the moment the pair started dating, and often felt that he was childish, hot-tempered and jealous of his wife's success.
Cissy Houston's younger son, Michael, who also struggled with drugs, confessed to Oprah Winfrey on "Oprah's Next Chapter" that he actually introduced his younger sister to cocaine in the 1980s before she met Brown. "I feel responsible I let it go so far," he said. "We were always being together most of the time and her following behind me. I taught her to drive, we played together, everything you do as you're growing up."
He added, "If you do drugs, you do that together too... and it just got out of hand. This drug is rough."
quicklist:title: The Day Cissy Houston Came Face to Face with Whitney's Drug Usetext: Once, Houston paid a surprise visit to Whitney's estate in Mendham, N.J., but she was the one who ended up being surprised.
When Whitney opened the door, Cissy writes, "I looked at her in shock. She was just as high as she could be. I had never seen anything like that before -- her eyes were glassy and she was completely out of it. I said, 'Nippy, what the hell are you doing?'"
The singer tried to dismiss her mother's concerns, saying, "I'm not addicted. I'm a grown woman."
When Houston participated in an intervention in 2000 after Whitney was dropped from the Oscars by Burt Bacharach, her daughter convinced her that she simply needed mother and daughter to live together so that she could quit. Cissy says she agreed but quickly lost control.
"Nippy would just lock herself up somewhere and not come out. When she did show her face, she swore up and down that she wasn't doing anything," Houston writes. "But she spent too many hours hiding herself for me to believe that was true." Still, Houston did not know how to get her to stop.
Finally, in early 2005, Cissy writes, she saw the worst. She paid a visit to the home in Atlanta where Whitney and Brown had moved, and found a horrifying scene: walls and doors were spray-painted with "big glaring eyes and strange faces," she says in the book. Whitney's face had been cut out from a framed family picture, an image Houston found "beyond disturbing."
Cissy left and returned with a court order and two sheriff's deputies who helped her take Whitney to a hospital. After a week there, Whitney went through four weeks of rehab in Antigua.
"She was so angry at me, cursing me and up and down," Houston writes. "Eventually, after a good long while, Nippy did stop being angry at me. She realized that I did what I did to protect her, and she later told people that I had saved her life."
quicklist:title: Robyn Crawfordtext: Houston addresses the rumored lesbian relationship between Whitney and Robyn Crawford, a friend she met during high school who later became the singer's close confidant and personal assistant. Whitney and Crawford got an apartment together when the singer was 18.
"I know there has been a lot of speculation over the years about the friendship between Nippy and Robyn and whether it was more than that," Houston writes. "I don't honestly know what exactly went on between them, back when they first met or later on. ...I do know that Nippy and Robyn cared a lot about each other. If I had to guess, I'd say that Nippy was drawn to Robyn's independence."
Whitney long denied that there was more than friendship between her and Crawford. "You mean to tell me that if I have a woman friend, I have to have a lesbian relationship with her? That's bulls***," she told Rolling Stone in 1993. "I have denied it over and over again, and nobody's accepted it. Or the media hasn't."
Cissy Houston writes that though she didn't care much for Crawford, she was grateful that Crawford was the first to come to her and say that Whitney had a problem with drugs.
quicklist:title: Aretha Franklin, Godmother?text: For years, it was believed that Aretha Franklin was Whitney's godmother, but Houston explains that the story got started when Whitney was touring with Franklin and the great Queen of Soul came over to the Houston home in Newark, N.J.
"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 writes.
quicklist:title: What Happened to Whitney's Voice?text: By the time of Whitney's "I Look to You" tour in 2010, the singer was really struggling with her voice even though she was working with a vocal coach and was taking steroids -- which accounted for her weight gain.
"Nippy was 46 years old. And you know, nobody's voice stays as strong as it ever was over 30 years -- even in the best of circumstances," Houston writes. "And Nippy hadn't exactly been in the best of circumstances. ...Her voice just couldn't stand up to the rigors of so many performances, but because tickets had been sold and promises had been made, Nippy tried to get out there and sing anyway."
The criticism and complaints from fans and critics "must have really knocked her back a step," Houston writes. "Because at some point, and I'm not sure when, Nippy apparently began using drugs again."
quicklist:title: A Mother's Grieftext: Houston writes that the day her only daughter was born, a voice in her head told her, "she wouldn't be with me long. ...I never even thought about it again -- until that terrible February day when it turned out to be true.
Some nights, Houston writes, she wakes up crying for her daughter, not sure at first where she is.
"But then I get up out of bed, wipe my eyes, wash my face, and lie back down to my sleep. Because that is all I can do," she writes. "I am so grateful to God for giving me the gift of 48 years with my daughter. And I accept that He knew when it was time to take her."