V Will Always Love Whitney Houston

V Will Always Love Whitney Houston

An authorized documentary by an Oscar-winning director explores the untold story of the ultimate songstress.

An authorized documentary by an Oscar-winning director explores the untold story of the ultimate songstress.

Text: Nicola Fumo

This interview appears n the pages of V114 on newsstands now! Order your copy at shop.vmagazine.com.

Whitney Houston was talented, beautiful, and successful. So why, at 48 years old, did she succumb to drugs? This is the central question of Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald’s latest documentary feature, Whitney. The first account of Houston’s life to be authorized by her estate, the film is told through rare archival footage and original interviews with more than three dozen of Houston’s family members, friends, and colleagues—shining a new light on the all-too-short life of the supremely talented yet tormented vocalist.

Born in 1963, Whitney was always surrounded by music. Her mother, Emily “Cissy” Houston, was an accomplished backup singer who supported the likes of Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin, who was Whitney’s godmother. Houston’s cousins Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick were also both famous singers, performing together as the Gospelaires in the 1950s and 1960s.

The documentary includes the shocking revelation that, as children, Houston and her half-brother Gary were allegedly molested by Dee Dee. Mistreatment by close family members proves to be a theme in Houston’s later life as well. In 2002, her father John Houston, who once managed her career, sued her for $100 million. “You get your act together, honey, and you pay me the money that you owe me,” he said on television that year. In 2003, Houston’s then-husband Bobby Brown was charged with misdemeanor battery following an altercation that left Houston with a bruised cheek and cut lip. The film also addresses rumors of Whitney’s bisexuality, confirming a romantic relationship with her longtime best friend and employee Robyn Crawford, who declined to be interviewed.

Despite her complicated interpersonal relationships and struggles with drug addiction, Whitney broke more music industry records than any other female singer in history. In 2009, the Guinness Book of World Records declared her the most-awarded female act of all time, tallying 415 career awards, including six Grammys (she won a seventh in 2013) and two Emmys. Singles like “How Will I Know” (1985) and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” (1987) were pioneering in their merging of R&B and pop and still hold up today. Subsequent smashes like “I Will Always Love You” (1992), “I’m Every Woman” (1992), and “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” (1998) also endure as classics, having undoubtedly shaped pop music as we know it today.

By tracing her record-breaking highs and unfathomable lows, Whitney cements the fact that, even in her death, we will always love her.

PHOTO VIA MEDIAPUNCH / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO, ILLUSTRATIONS BY APIRAT INFAHSAENG

Credits: PHOTO VIA MEDIAPUNCH / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO, ILLUSTRATIONS BY APIRAT INFAHSAENG

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