Nightly News | February 12, 2012
>> death at only 48 years old did come as a shock to many, but sadly not a complete surprise either. she had spent more than a decade battling substance abuse and survived a tumultuous marriage and divorce. all the while trying to recapture the musical magic that once took her all the way to the top. with more, here's nbc's mike taibbi .
>> reporter: whitney elizabeth houston was the soloist in a newark, new jersey, baptist church choir at age 11. but while the word star is overused and a lot of r&b singers got their start singing gospel, she was a star, right away. a prodigy knenurtured by her mother cissy and deionne warwick. her gift of a voice was in full flower. but it wasn't just her voice that made her a star. she was as beautiful as a model, a crossover dream girl who was among first african-americans to grace the cover of "seventeen" magazine. the public flocked to her concerts and bought her albums in record numbers. she once had seven number one singles in a row, more than elvis or the beatles. she reached a top of the music world , six grammys, 22 american music awards , and with clive davis who discovered her paving the way, an historic recording contract. always beyond her beauty and girl next door charm, she had that voice with such range and purity, she could hold an emotion to make you believe it. where do broken hearts go
>> reporter: she said she knew there was no easy way to her dreams, dreams that took her into film "the bodyguard" and " waiting to exhale ," big hits. while she got some terrific reviews, she could act, it always came back to music. she even turned the national anthem in a pop chart hit with this rendition before super bowl xxv . o say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
>> reporter: then the dark side , a decade of drug induced decline around her marriage to the volatile singer bobby brown who produced a daughter but constant chaos too. houston was a no show for some concerts, a disaster in others, like this one in brisbon, australia. the headlines, the tabloids were relentless. she admitted to cocaine use but denied the worst of the rumors to abc's diane sawyer .
>> i don't do that. crack is whack.
>> reporter: in the end, her star had wobbled out of the heavens. she spoke wistfully last november about another comeback, a film version of "sparkle".
>> i'm not old. i feel older. i'm mature. i'm looking forward to the years to come, that, you know, good years.
>> reporter: she would only have three more months after that interview. her music, her gift, a gift they remember today in the new jersey church where it first flowered will live