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Whitney Houston Remembered

Aired February 13, 2012 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, Whitney Houston, from pop princess to global superstar. Was she a victim of her own success?

Her last moments, the very latest on the investigation into her death.

LT. MARK ROSEN, BEVERLY HILLS POLICE: This is an active investigation by the Beverly Hills Police Department.

ED WINTER, CHIEF CORONER, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: You can look at a body and not know what the cause of death is. You might have a suspicion.

MORGAN: The funeral arrangements, and her last interview.

Whitney Houston, the stars say good-bye. Chaka Chan, Wyclef Jean, and Jennifer Holiday. Plus the hit-making producer who made Whitney a star speaks out for the first time since her death.

And only in America. From an 11-year-old girl singing her idol's songs in the mirror, her final farewell in front of millions worldwide.


Good evening. My exclusive with Whitney Houston's close friend, Chaka Khan in just a moment. We begin with tonight's big story which of course the death of Whitney Houston in her Beverly Hilton hotel room on Saturday afternoon.

Here's what we know right now. The autopsy is being completed and Houston's body arrives in New Jersey tonight where her funeral is tentatively set for Friday. No word yet on the cause of death. The results of toxicology tests should be available in six to eight weeks. Police say there's no indication at the moment of any foul play.


ROSEN: As of right now, it's not a criminal investigation. We have concluded our portion of the investigation at the hotel. We have a team of investigators that are specifically assigned to this case. But as of right now in this state --

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: CNN's Don Lemon. Don and I of course reported on the story on Saturday night, as the world reeled in shock from the death of Whitney Houston.

Let me ask you, Don, straight away, what do we really know about the circumstances of Whitney's death? There's lots of rumors flying around as I'm sure you're aware. What do we think we know?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: There are a lot of rumors flying around. And I want to address something that you said right at the top here about the funeral services for Whitney Houston. It's tentatively set for Friday, Piers, at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. It's much like the Staples Center where Michael Jackson's funeral was held. It seats about the same, almost 20,000 people. They're expecting a big crowd. So they're tentatively gong to have it there and that's again according to the "Newark Star Ledger" on Friday.

But yes, there's so many rumors floating around about prescription medication being found in her room, where she was found in the bathroom if she was submerged under water. And according to the coroner who I spoke with today, I had a brief discussion with him after he did a little scrum with reporters.

And he said, listen, Don, there were prescription bottles, prescription medication found in her room. But it wasn't out of the ordinary and it wasn't something that you would find in an overdose situation. It's not to say that there wasn't an overdose, that she didn't misuse the medication that was there.

But at this point, they don't know that. They did find prescription medication but not out of the ordinary. And they said they don't know as of yet if it was death by drowning because when the coroner got there, when the emergency workers got there she had been removed from the tub by a person who was there. A member of her staff who had seen her an hour ago in the room.

So they're waiting for the toxicology report or as he calls them tox to come in six to eight weeks, Piers. And that's what we know right now. Basically they want to wait. They said, hey, listen, press, reporters, hold your horses, don't assume anything, let's let the investigation play out.

MORGAN: And Don, the other big question everyone is talking about today is how is Whitney's daughter, Bobbi Kristina? Because reports of two visits to hospital yesterday suffering from some kind of stress breakdown. Do you have any update on how she is?

LEMON: She's fine, and that's -- it's according to family members and according to reports. But it was on the first night, really was the first time she went to the hospital, Piers. Here's what they say happened. You and I reported some of this on Saturday night.

Bobbi Kristina went -- was in the lobby. She was staying with her mom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. When she found out about it, she's in the lobby having a great time as they were with the -- excuse me, the pre-Grammy celebration. And she hears the news of her mother. So she goes back up to the room to try to see her mother. Police won't let her in, she becomes hysterical, obviously an 18-year-old girl, she has to be taken to the hospital. They release her.

Then the next day, which was yesterday, same scenario. She was overcome by grief because of her mom's death, hysterical, they took her to the hospital and then they let her -- they released her. And her dad, who was on tour with his former group, New Edition, down south in Mississippi and then Tennessee, he came back to Los Angeles and the word is, is that he is bringing her back east to be with her family.

And just one more thing, Piers, I want to tell you about, those photographs, you know, the club that you -- that you've been talking about and we've been reporting on, this new nightclub?


LEMON: I left there no more than about an hour and half ago and spoke to one of the managers. And he said, listen, Whitney was having a great time. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. She was there for her friend, Kelly Price. When you see her sweaty there, when you see what looks to be blood on her leg, they believe it's wine. But they said everyone was having a good time.

The club was hot. There were almost 400 people. It was filled to capacity. Whitney had to go through a big crowd to get out. So they say at least that's a snapshot, they didn't think anything was out of the ordinary. But again we have to wait for the investigation to play out, the toxicology reports, to figure out exactly what's going on -- Piers.

MORGAN: We do. Don Lemon, thank you very much indeed.

Joined now by Shaun Robinson, the weekend co-anchor and correspondent of "Access Hollywood." She did the last interview with Whitney Houston.

Shaun, obvious, you had no idea at the time what was going to be happening. How do you feel about the fact you did the last interview with Whitney?

SHAUN ROBINSON, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD": Piers, it's -- I am still in shock. I went to my hometown of Detroit. I interviewed Whitney Houston on the set of the movie "Sparkle" that she was filming in Detroit. We had the only one-on-one interview with her. With everyone else, she was paired with somebody else from the movie to deflect questions about her personal life.

But she felt comfortable enough with me to do the interview solo with me and we talked for about a half an hour about her career, about her family life and where she is in her life right now.

And Piers, I have to tell you, we have heard so many stories about Whitney coming back. And when she didn't really look as though she was coming back at those points, this time, though, when I interviewed her, and it was only in November, that was three months ago that I interviewed her, she looked fantastic.

MORGAN: Let's take a --

ROBINSON: Absolutely fantastic.

MORGAN: Let's take a little clip. I want to see what she looked like.


WHITNEY HOUSTON, SINGER: I've got 30 years under my belt now.


HOUSTON: Yes. Yes. Thirty years this year. Thirty years in the music industry. There'll be ups and there'll be downs, and they'll be all around, you know what I'm saying? But you know, your belief and your faith and your determination.


HOUSTON: The encourages, people who encourage you --


HOUSTON: -- to do and be the best you can.


MORGAN: I mean she certainly looks OK and she certainly seems quite self-aware in what she was saying there. But that's not the Whitney I guess we've been seeing over the last couple of days. So you can see that she was a different kind of woman.

ROBINSON: Certainly. And that is what is so astounding because everyone on the set of "Sparkle" said that she was -- she was a mentor to them. Jordin Sparks who plays her daughter in the film said that she goes to Whitney all the time for advice. I mean this was somebody that everyone on the set looked up to.

Fantastic, Piers. There was nothing about her that day that was any signal that in some 13 weeks she would be dead. If anyone had told me that, I would not believe it. And when you looked at her on that day and where we are today, the only thing you can say is what the heck happened? Because this was a totally different person? She looked like she was going to be at the top of her game once again.

MORGAN: Let me bring in Chaka Khan. Thank you very much that.

Chak, you were a very close friend of Whitney's. You called her like your little sister.

CHAKA KHAN, SINGER, SONGWRITER: My baby sister, yes.

MORGAN: You were supposed to be apparently performing at the Grammy's last night but you felt it wouldn't be appropriate. Tell me about that.

KHAN: Well, it was actually -- yes. I don't know how it got out there that I was going to be performing at the Grammys. But everyone -- you know, on TV they were announcing it, and I was watching TV saying, I am? So my sister -- Tammy is my manager, we called and talked to Ken, and we asked, what's going on?

MORGAN: He's the producer?

KHAN: Yes, that's right. And Ken said, well, you know, we've been kicking it around back and forth and blah blah blah, and we sort of decided that we'll just going to go with one singer and keep it -- keep the thing tight. I personally was not really willing to go.


KHAN: And sing, "I'm Every Woman." That's ridiculous. I felt it was ridiculous and very inappropriate.

MORGAN: Why did you feel that?

KHAN: Well, it's as though -- as much as I am spiritual and do celebrate death to some extent, you know, I celebrate -- I look at it more as like a graduation, out of the flesh into spirit, and then freeing one up. I'm taking this one kind of -- kind of hard. You know? I know what an intelligent, bright, funny, witty, loving, sweet person and a great, great force musically, the great -- one of the greatest voices of all time.

MORGAN: I mean that is indisputable. Let me ask you this. This is what concerns me about what has happened here, is that so many of her close friends talk this way about her. And yet, for the last two days of her life, she seemed to be on this huge party.

KHAN: Yes.

MORGAN: Surrounded by people who -- let's not use the word enabler, I don't know enough about it.

KHAN: Yes.

MORGAN: But there are people allowing her to drink champagne in clubs and so on. This is an addict that we're talking about. A well- known, well-documented addict.

KHAN: That's right.

MORGAN: As one of her close friends, how do you feel about what was being allowed to happen to her?

KHAN: OK. I have strong feelings about that. I, too, was an addict. I know -- if I were on a set of a movie, even now, I've recovered for seven years, we'd have made -- I was coming to a city like L.A., we'd have made specific plans that I come in, day, night before -- day of performance, especially if you're still -- if you're not -- you've gone into proper treatment and gotten really handled, gotten your situation handled, yes, that was the first big mistake, for her to come an entire week before her performance at the party. I'd have never done that.

MORGAN: I was just shocked that it was happening. I was seeing these pictures of her apparently falling out of clubs and covered with whether it was blood or wine. But certainly the fact that she was drinking in public in these clubs in Hollywood seemed to me a potential recipe for disaster.

KHAN: It was -- it absolutely was. And I stand by that. I stand on that. I stand on whoever flew her out to perform at that party should have provided someone to be there, to somehow look -- just keep the riff-raft out of the situation, just keep some of the dangerous people away.

MORGAN: Was she very vulnerable, do you think, Whitney?

KHAN: Yes.

MORGAN: Even to the end to that kind of situation?

KHAN: I am. I'm very vulnerable as a -- you know, I mean I'm not -- I will never do cocaine again, I know that. But we are sensitive, highly sensitive people, entertainers.

MORGAN: Let's just take a short break. I want to continue this after the break. This is fascinating to get your perspective.

Shaun, thank you very much indeed. And a very sad thing for you to have the last interview with Whitney. But appreciate it you talking about it.

We'll be right back after this break.


MORGAN: It was Whitney Houston and Chaka Khan performing live on VH1's "Divas" in 1999. That song "I'm every woman" was a huge hit around the world for both of them.

I'm back now with Chaka.

I can tell you're angry about what's happened here. I mean the blame game has begun. A lot of people want to blame Bobby Brown, a lot of people want to blame the music business, a lot of people want to blame everyone. What do you think?

KHAN: Well, it's all of the above and a whole lot more. But it boils down to you. You know, I was introduced to certain people and to certain opportunities to use recreational drugs. And it boils down to whether I want to do it or not. And she was a strong-willed, strong-minded girl. And I can't say that it's anybody's fault but --

MORGAN: Would she have gone down that route, do you think, without Bobby Brown in her life?

KHAN: Well, if not him, somebody else. If she wants to get high -- if you want to get high, you're going to get high.

MORGAN: And do you think she had that tendency anyway?

KHAN: I think that we all as artist, because we're highly sensitive people, and this machine around us, this so-called music industry, is such a demonic thing. It sacrifices people's lives and their essences at the drop of a dime.

MORGAN: How did you feel when you heard that Sony -- I think it was in back in the UK, had jacked the prices up off of Whitney's album --

KHAN: It reminds me --

MORGAN: Within an hour or so of her dying.

KHAN: Yes. Yes. That reminds me of the time, I had a manager once who said to me, actually said to me, you know, you're worth more money dead than alive. OK? So I am just by the grace of God stand out here because I could have easily, easily, because of a lot of pressure from the label I was with at the time, I went through a really, really rough time, where I didn't want to go outside, didn't want to be seen, didn't want to be around, I really didn't.

MORGAN: Let me ask you a specific question. I'm assuming that every singer, particularly a female diva kind of singer, has a kind of peak moment in their career in terms of the tone of their voice and their ability to hit those big notes.

And one of the few people who told me he knew Whitney well was that "The Bodyguard" was kind of that time for her when she could hits these incredible and imperious notes. And that when that ability began to go, mixed in with the lifestyle choices she was making, it became an unbearable pressure on her to try and emulate that.

You know someone said to me -- David Foster, who I think is coming on the show tomorrow night, is quoted as saying that that movie, the singing that went on in that movie, not only ruined it for everybody else to try and compete with her, it ruined it for Whitney because she could never again live up to that. Have you been through that process?

KHAN: Yes.

MORGAN: What is it like?

KHAN: It -- let me tell you, I had polyps on my throat from like smoking, drinking and things like that. This is back in the '80s. And when I didn't know what my diagnosis was, I just thought I was losing my voice. I couldn't hit any high notes, I had trouble with low notes at mid-range, which is like very, very suffocating. And I started actually considering what else could I do for a living.

I was devastated. I was devastated because I thought I didn't have my voice anymore. So -- and I went to some specialists, they said well, it was a polyp, we need to remove and once the polyp was removed, I got my full range back.

I think that with Whitney, it probably would be a very similar scenario, that, you know, she gone see a specialist about it and she probably had a few polyps on there. And right now, we've got the technology where -- you know, you can maintain. I mean you can maintain, and you can hit the same notes you hit 20 years ago.

MORGAN: But from her performances that I saw, clearly, I think affected by the drug abuse and so on, she couldn't hit them anymore.


MORGAN: What do you think that did to her?

KHAN: It killed her. It killed her. It would have -- it would have -- I know. We were -- the last gig I did with her -- last time I saw her was at my gig with Prince here in L.A. on May 5th, and when I was singing, I saw her in the audience, and I was so happy to see her, and I could see -- you know, she just wanted to sing. All we want to do is sing.

MORGAN: That must have been agony for her that she couldn't?

KHAN: It was. It was agony. It was -- you know, it was a killer. I told her, come on up, come on, let's do something. So I just said, forget about the song, I said, forget about the words, just do what you want, you know. And we had a great time. And after that, we had a great time after the show in my dressing room. We talked for over an hour and laughed and talked about life, and I was so happy.

And I was -- when her mother -- when Cissy told me, when I saw Cissy a couple months ago at a gig that she had gotten this part in a movie and she's in Canada recording, I was like, wow, I said, Cissy, this is it, this is it. She's going to be -- it's going to be great for her. This is -- this is like the life wrath that she needed for her soul, for her well-being, for feeling good and feeling whole, you know.

MORGAN: Were you, if you're honest, surprised when you heard the news? Shocked, yes, saddened, yes. Were you surprised or has this been the kind of news that many of her friends have long feared may suddenly be brought upon then?

KHAN: I have to be honest with you and say, that there were -- with my life, it's just as not as well publicized as with her life, there are a lot of parallels, where I'm sure my family thought like her family thought and I thought, oh, my god, I mean, I've cried for her a lot over the years, so many times. And I've -- in a way, I've mourned her because I felt that she was -- something was going to happen because she was -- we were -- she was so close to the wire.

MORGAN: Would she listen -- would she listen to people?

KHAN: Yes. She'd give her -- her rendition of how she felt.

MORGAN: And what was her defense really of her actions? KHAN: She had no defense. She had -- there really no defense. She was -- she does what -- she said, I'm a GAW, a grown woman. And she was, she's a grown woman. And the choices and decisions that she made for her life, I think had she been spared, would have made her just a greater human being.

MORGAN: Have you talked to the family in the last --

KHAN: Yes. I've been in touch with them.

MORGAN: Obviously they've --

KHAN: I'm a good friend with Whitney's mom, Cissy.

MORGAN: How is she?

KHAN: She's coping, she's coping. But she's -- you know, she's also, you know, for, I'm sure, many times, had fear for her daughter's life. And I know my mother did and my little girl did. And my son. So I know what this world that we're living in, this business, particularly, can do to one.

MORGAN: You were, I think, going to go to the Clive Davis party.

KHAN: Yes.

MORGAN: It was a surreal event where Whitney's body was still in the hotel and there was this sort of a party where apparently half the room were in tears, the other half were kind of partying. What did you feel about that?

KHAN: I thought that was complete insanity. And knowing Whitney, I don't believe that she would have said, the show must go on. She was the kind of woman that was, stop everything, uh-huh. I'm not going to be there. You know.

I don't know what could motivate a person to have a party in a building where the person whose life he had influenced so enormously and whose life had been affected by hers, they were like -- I don't understand how that party went on.

MORGAN: I had Clive Davis by pure chance here on Friday night with Jennifer Hudson, and he obviously worshipped Whitney and I think he must have gone through agony when he heard this news knowing it was two or three hours to this event.

KHAN: Right.

MORGAN: And I think he took the decision to turn it into a tribute to her.

KHAN: Yes.

MORGAN: And I understand that. I mean he obviously was wrestling with the right thing to do. KHAN: That would have been right if it really was a true tribute. And, you know, and a true tribute, you know, might have been a more honest tribute, in my -- you know, in my opinion would have been maybe call everybody together, let's say a prayer and let's eat dinner and go home.

MORGAN: What is your --

KHAN: I couldn't get dressed. I was supposed to go to the party. I just got off a plane from Miami at 5:30. As soon as I hit the tarmac, I found out, I heard. And I couldn't put on makeup, I couldn't get dressed, I couldn't do anything, I was paralyzed. I couldn't do anything.

MORGAN: What is your abiding memory of Whitney Houston?

KHAN: They're all really good ones. And funny ones. There was one time, me and her and Bobby were all together in a hotel, it was actually in Florida as well. And we were up there getting high together. Talking crazy and having a really, really, really good laughing, and a really, really good time.

Now it sounds all suspect and crazy, but it wasn't. We were just three people talking and Bobby said, Chaka, you ought to let me manage you. And --


KHAN: Go fawed (ph) at that and laughing about him and, Bobbi Kristina, she's such a lovely little girl. She's such a lovely young women.

MORGAN: Are you worried about her that she's --

KHAN: I'm concerned when I know that Cissy -- I told Cissy, I said, I have a lot of resources to help children, you know, here and I love her like she's a niece and I said, so -- I said the big thing we have to do now that is make sure this whole scenario doesn't repeat itself. And Bobbi Kristina is taken -- handled, taken care of and happy.

MORGAN: I have got to leave it there, I'm sorry. But it's been fascinating talking to you. Thank you so much for coming here.

KHAN: Well, thank you. It's great talking to you. And God bless you.

MORGAN: Thank you.

When we come back, another of Whitney's duet partner is a man who spent a lot of time with her in and out of the studio is Wyclef Jean.





MORGAN: Wyclef Jean and Whitney Houston at the American Music Awards in 1999 performing "My Love is Your Love." Saturday night, when he heard about Whitney's passing, Wyclef was performing in Atlantic City. And while the show went on, he did stop for a moment of silence.

Joining me exclusively is hip hop superstar Wyclef Jean. Wyclef, thank you for joining me. I've managed to pronounce your name wrong twice so far this evening. I've say Jean and Jean, depending who I was listening to. But, of course, you are named after a great English performer, Wyclef Jean.

So I should have known this. My apologies.


MORGAN: I just had this extraordinary interview with Chaka Khan, really searing insight into fame, addiction, Whitney's problems, her spirit and so on. What do you think has been the biggest misconception about Whitney that you have heard or read in the last 36 hours?

JEAN: I would say being in the studio with Whitney Houston and meeting her for the first time, what I want people to concentrate on is her natural warmth for humanity. As big as a Diva as she was, no matter who it was, she always was on your level, ready to converse with you and show you love. That's the Whitney that I know.

MORGAN: In terms of the issues that she had to deal with, how much of an impact do you think that had on her natural talent?

JEAN: I think for me, being in the studio with her and understanding the stress we artists go through at times -- it's not the first time in history that -- you know, where we feel the pressure. What I was saying earlier, I was saying every night when someone has to go up and be a superman or a super woman on stage, no matter what happens, I think that takes a toll on us psychologically, emotionally, physically.

MORGAN: There are fans gathering in New Jersey outside the funeral home where her body is being flown to tonight. I heard -- actually, Chaka told me that she believes that Tyler Perry I think arranged for the flight on a private plane. Obviously going to be very emotional when Whitney's body arrives back in her old hometown there.

How would you like her to be remembered, Wyclef? Obviously all the stuff about her private life is now going to be gored over and repeated everywhere and so on. How would you like her as an artist to be remembered?

JEAN: I would like her to be remembered -- me and Whitney, beyond music, I think what we share, my father is a preacher. He passed. Just coming from Newark, New Jersey also, I would say for me, the spirit of Whitney Houston started in the church. And that natural love of where her talent came from, that's how I would like her to be remembered.

MORGAN: There are people who want someone to blame here. I thought it was fascinating hearing Chaka Khan say yes, you can blame Bobby Brown. You can blame the record business. You can blame everything, but in the end, you also if you're Whitney Houston, you would have to take blame for your own situation, your own life. And she was a very strong-willed woman. Would you go along with that?

JEAN: What I would say is the Whitney that I know and being in the studio with her, what I want we to understand as human beings is that we are human, and we are quick to judge. Unless we are in the situation of the individual, we cannot understand the stress that they're enduring at the time.

MORGAN: How much harder is it, do you think, for any artist in the modern age, with the advent of the Internet, of bloggers, of every member of the public having a camera phone, effectively making everyone paparazzi, the intensified attention from magazines, newspaper, rolling celebrity television shows?

People I interviewed like Lionel Richie and Smoky Robinson on the night that she died all made a point of saying it is much, much harder to be in the pressure cooker of fame today than it used to be.

JEAN: I would say that the reason is because we're living in a time where anyone can blog anything about you, catch you on video and interpret it and put it back on Youtube however they want to do it. There is no editing. I think that we're living in a modern time where our personal privacy no longer exists.

That also takes a personal stress -- a toll on how we live as celebrities. Back in this day, remember, there was no Youtubes. There was no outlets. Now anything we do, within 3.1 second, it's a blog version of what it is, whether it's true or not.

MORGAN: Wyclef, you Tweeted the following, which I thought was extremely powerful. You said, "the voice of an angel, the heart of a lamb, the spirit of a lioness, the presence of a goddess. Love you, RIP, Whitney Houston."

JEAN: Yes, I mean, I Tweeted that because I remember the great mogul Clive Davis, when he told me that he was looking for music for Whitney Houston, and me and my cousin, Jerry Wonder, we sat and I wrote this song called "My Love Is Your Love."

Going into the studio with Whitney Houston for the first time, we were so nervous that we were going into the studio with the number one Diva. And when she walked in the studio for the first time, when she opened her mouth and we -- the way her warmness and how she greeted us and us knowing she's such a goddess and a giant in the music business, that kind of warmth was the reason that we Tweeted -- I Tweeted what I Tweeted.

MORGAN: It was very powerful and evocative. Wyclef Jean, thank you very much for joining me. I appreciate it.

JEAN: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Coming up, Jennifer Holiday's memories of Whitney Houston and the extraordinary song what they have in common. That's after Anderson Cooper with a preview of tonight's "AC 360."





MORGAN: That was Whitney Houston bursting onto the music scene in her first TV appearance on "The Merv Griffin Show" in 1983. She was just 19. Jennifer Holiday also took the world by storm, earning a Tony and a Grammy as Effy in the Broadway production of "Dreamgirls" at the age of just 21. She's known Whitney Houston since she started out. She joins me now exclusively.

Jennifer, obviously a very tough time for you and for all of Whitney's friends. What are your emotions? You've had some time to reflect on Whitney, her life and everything. What are your feelings?

JENNIFER HOLIDAY, SINGER: Well, it's still so hard for all of us to believe. And for me, having pretty much spent my adult life in New York, I did get a chance to be around her, in the sense where we were all together because of her fabulous mother, Dr. Cissy Houston, who, in her own right, is a legend and has contributed so much to R&B music and taught us so much.

Met her through Luther Vandross, who was a very close friend of mine and adored Dr. Houston. So we all got to be around. I'm three years older than Whitney, so I had already been on Broadway, had already gotten a Tony, had already, you know, gotten the Grammy. But when she came on the scene and met us all, and then when she became this superstar, she never changed.

I think that that's due to, you know, her mother and, of course, Dionne Warwick and her God mother being Aretha Franklin. It just didn't change with her. She also had a different kind of source of light around her. It was -- I can't even explain it.

I call her at times having been my little angel because I had a different kind of trouble. I suffered from depression. And I -- I'm just -- I'm overwhelmed because I listened to Chaka. We are all artists who are so close to have been on that same journey.

I think that I was saved from not doing drugs because on Broadway, I had to do eight shows a week. And I had to show up. They just didn't go for that sort of thing.

MORGAN: Tell me this, Jennifer. Tell me this: the assumption about Whitney Houston is that she was having this fabulous life and was pretty squeaky clean, and then she meets Bobby Brown and it all goes horribly wrong; and he's the guy that got her into drugs and so on. And then she has this terrible end to her life which is at the end of that downward spiral.

Is that true? You knew her well. You knew her lifestyle before she met Bobby Brown. Is that true?

HOLIDAY: Well, I -- I can say this, that we were all around a lot of drugs and that she had -- I hate to say that she had started before she had met Bobby Brown.

MORGAN: You see, I think that's important, simply for the background to how Whitney ended up in the situation that she ended up in. Because it is a presumed assumption that the bad again all this is Bobby Brown. But as Chaka Khan sort of hinted to me and you sort of confirmed with that detail, it may be more complex.

HOLIDAY: It was around us all. At that time, when Whitney had started and had become a star in the '80s, we were just around it all. And there in New York, the AIDS epidemic had begun to take over. In New York, it wiped out not only the Broadway community, but it wiped out quite a few of Whitney's friends, especially her piano player, who she adored and she treated so wonderfully and loving and warm. And I got to see her again, that light.

But it had -- it had begun. We were around it. And I -- you know, I don't want to call names of people that were around her at that time. They may all speak themselves and begin to be honest about some of the things that were going on back at that time.

MORGAN: I think it's important to say that, because I think it puts it in a proper context. Jennifer Holiday, thank you so much for joining me.

HOLIDAY: Thank you.

MORGAN: Next, the man who produced Whitney Houston's early songs. And he calls her his sister and his friend, hit maker Narada Michael Walden.


MORGAN: Michael Walden was the first major producer that Whitney worked with. Music mogul Clive Davis brought them together. Walden wrote and produced for her, including the sound track from "The Bodyguard." Also a musical force in his own right, having a hand in more than 60 number one hits. And joins me now.

I know it's a very difficult time for everyone that knew and loved Whitney. And I'm sure you feel as distraught as everybody else about it. I just want to focus with you on the glory period of her recording. I'm sure you'd love to do that.

We've heard lots of stuff about life and issues and so on. But as a performer, when you were making particularly "The Bodyguard" and you came up with these incredible songs, how good was Whitney? NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN, PRODUCER: To me, Whitney is a talent that we have never known. I mean, worked with Aretha Franklin. We called her the queen of soul. In my mind, I would kind of playfully say to her, you're the princess of soul. But honestly she was so powerful that I don't think any of us really had seen the like of her before.

MORGAN: May not again. That's the sadness here, isn't it?

WALDEN: It is.

MORGAN: Her music, yes, it will live on. But we may never see a singer that had the range and the power of Whitney Houston.

WALDEN: On "The Bodyguard," my song I produced was "I'm Every Woman," the song that Chaka Khan was -- OK. Whitney would be nine months pregnant singing like that. And because she loved Chaka so much, she wanted to make sure all the harmonies were as tight as Chaka had done.

And she was really like into it. And Natalie Cole had to come in and watch. It was like a real love fest to record with her.

MORGAN: How professional was she? You hear lots of stories about Whitney's diva-ish behavior and so on. What was it like in reality?

WALDEN: In reality, she was very busy, extremely busy, having to go here, having to go there, especially in the hey-day when so much was happening. So my trick with her in making the second album (INAUDIBLE) Whitney gave me three hours, from 4:00 to say 7:00. And record the verse, record the second verse, record bridge, record the choruses, give me some flash here.

OK, three hours up, go. And I would stay all night and comp the very best parts with all the little breath. So when she came the next day, I would say sit down, listen to this. Pow! It's a smash. Exactly. All you have to do is fix this little part, that little thing, you're done. OK! So it wasn't like it was torture. It was always inspiring.

MORGAN: Do you think that the pressure of being Whitney Houston just became too much?

WALDEN: I think it's intense. Most people -- hardly anyone can ever understand. To be a superstar is incredible pressure. And also in our country, I'm going to speak about this, America. We have a way of kind of making it hard on our superstars. I don't sense it when I go to Europe or I go to Japan.

MORGAN: Britain can be rough, too. I've worked in the media there and it can be equally rough. But I know what you mean, it is tough. In terms of her voice, a few people have said to me that the real problem for Whitney was the realization she would never sing at the heights that she did when she was recording with you again.

WALDEN: I don't believe that. I think that Chaka was right in saying she may have had polyp or two and needed to maybe stop smoking, because that will hurt you. But I was always of the faith that Whitney would come back powerful.

In fact, my last time seeing her, she was said go cut that song, "Loving is Really My Game." Let's have a smash again. So she was really eager to want to do great things. So I'm not sure I believe that.

MORGAN: When you heard she died, what was your emotion?

WALDEN: I was in a bathtub, way up in northern California, place called Gualala (ph), and on a little transistor radio they said that Whitney had died. I couldn't believe it. So I had to kind of listen through songs playing through to make sure what I heard was right. And it was right. I was completely stunned.

MORGAN: Do you feel it's a wasted life or do you feel it was a short but brilliant life?

WALDEN: Short but brilliant. What Whitney Houston has accomplished will never be accomplished. She's the most famous person on the planet as far as vocaling and her songs. So I'm very happy that I can sit here and say I had a chance to know her. And I'm still dazed that she's gone. But she lives because her music is so powerful.

MORGAN: It does. Narada, thank you very much indeed. I couldn't have put it better.

WALDEN: You're great, man.

MORGAN: Thank you.

When we come back, an Only in America special, a little girl who grew up singing Whitney Houston songs in the mirror and became a superstar herself, and paid the ultimate tribute to her hero.



GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: She's going to be extraordinarily missed. I said really the three, four musical icons of New Jersey, you know, Frank Sinatra, Count Basey, Bruce Springsteen and Whitney Houston. I mean, we're really -- you look across the last century, they were the real four musical icons of our country that came out of the state of New Jersey. I'm going to miss her as a talent. I'm going to miss her as a neighbor.


MORGAN: That was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talking to my crew a little while ago. Now tonight's Only in America, a childhood dream and a tribute to an all American hero. Whitney Houston has the number one song on iTunes tonight. It's the biggest selling American single of all time, and the song that took her from star to worldwide Diva.

Here's, of course, her version of a Dolly Parton song "I Will Always Love You."




MORGAN: Millions of people have sung along to that, along with a little girl who grew up to be a superstar herself. Listen to what Jennifer Hudson told me just one day before Whitney's untimely death.


JENNIFER HUDSON, SINGER/ACTRESS: As a kid, at 11, I would sit and create duets between Whitney and I with her, "I Will Always Love You."

MORGAN: Did you really?

HUDSON: Yes, I did.


MORGAN: Just last night, Jennifer sang that song again, this time on the Grammy stage with millions around the world watching. She paid tribute to Whitney.

She said, "it was the greatest honor of my life to be able to be the one to pay tribute to Whitney's memory. It's from my heart. I haven't stopped crying since she passed. Her family is in my prayers."

We end now with Jennifer Hudson's remarkable emotional tribute to her heroine, Whitney Houston.