The body of the singer Whitney Houston, found dead in a hotel room in Los Angeles last weekend, has been flown back to her native Newark, New Jersey. Although the coroner's report may take several weeks to complete, it seems likely that her death was the result of an addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Even if her music was a bit too commercial for my tastes, there was no denying the power of her voice in its prime, rooted in the gospel singing of the African-American church. The explanation for Houston's untimely demise offered by most of the media centred on the idea that as a young woman she had been unprepared for the pressures of in the music industry and as a result had turned to drink and drugs. I'm not so sure about that. As the daughter of a professional gospel singer, a cousin of Dionne Warwick and goddaughter of Aretha Franklin, she was pretty well placed to understand the music industry she entered as a nineteen year old. And it seems more likely to me that she drank heavily and took large amounts of drugs because she enjoyed it and had the wealth to do so.