Pop superstar Whitney Houston's funeral is held Saturday
Houston set numerous records during her musical and film career
Singer died at age 48 after being found unconscious in a hotel room bathtub
Whitney Houston, who ruled the pop charts during the 1980s and ’90s, will be laid to rest Saturday following a funeral at her childhood church in Newark, New Jersey.
A look back at key moments in Houston’s life, as well as her last days:
August 9, 1963
Houston is born in Newark to gospel singer Cissy Houston. Her cousins include Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick; Houston’s godmother was “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin. Houston honed her vocal skills as a child at New Hope Baptist Church, where her mother was director of sacred music.
“Whitney’s mother and cousins nurtured her passion for gospel music since birth,” according to a biography on Houston’s website. “As a teenager, Whitney was already singing on the scene in New York.”
Also while in her teens, Houston sang backup for Chaka Khan on “I’m Every Woman,” a song Houston would re-record in 1992 that went on to become one of her biggest hits.
Arista Records’ Clive Davis is taken to a New York nightclub to see Houston perform; he signs her on the spot.
Houston’s debut album, “Whitney Houston” is released. It yields three consecutive No. 1 singles, “Saving All My Love For You,” “How Will I Know” and “The Greatest Love of All.” The album sold more than 12 million copies in the United States and more abroad, according to Houston’s website, and set the record as the biggest-selling debut album by a solo artist.
Houston’s second album, “Whitney,” is released and entered the Billboard album charts at No. 1, according to Houston’s website. The nine-times-platinum album contains four No. 1 singles and establishes Houston as the only artist ever to have seven consecutive No. 1 hits.
Houston’s third album, “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” is released, selling some 8 million copies worldwide.
January 27, 1991
Houston sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXV before a record 79 million viewers.
July 18, 1992
Houston marries R&B singer Bobby Brown.
Houston appears with Kevin Costner in “The Bodyguard.” The film’s soundtrack, featuring Houston’s smash hit – a remake of the Dolly Parton single “I Will Always Love You” – went 17-times platinum, making it the biggest-selling motion picture soundtrack album in history. “I Will Always Love You” becomes the biggest-selling commercial single in history.
Houston’s film work continued, as she appeared in 1995’s “Waiting to Exhale” and 1996’s “The Preacher’s Wife.” The soundtrack to “The Preacher’s Wife” becomes the biggest-selling gospel album in history, according to Houston’s website. In 1997, she appeared as the Fairy Godmother in a made-for-television version of “Cinderella.”
March 4, 1993
Houston gives birth to her daughter with Brown, Bobbi Kristina Brown.
Houston releases “My Love Is Your Love,” which earns her a Grammy but does not match the performance of her previous albums, according to Biography.com.
Late 1990s and early 2000s
Reports about Houston’s struggles with drug addiction, health problems and her rocky marriage with Brown begin to surface. Album sales drop off, and her voice begins to show signs of wear.
In a now-infamous interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Houston admitted to using drugs but denied using crack. “Crack is wack,” she said, quoting a line from a mural painted in 1986. In the same interview, Houston told Sawyer, “The biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy.”
Filming begins on the short-lived reality show “Being Bobby Brown,” featuring Brown and Houston, which aired in 2005. “The show aired during the worst years of the couple’s crumbling marriage: drug use, lifestyle excess and bad behavior were all caught on tape, and Houston’s reputation sunk to new lows,” according to Biography.com. Houston later said she did the show to try to save her marriage.
At some point, Houston’s mother, Cissy Houston, steps in. Houston told Oprah Winfrey in a 2009 interview that her mother arrived on her doorstep with sheriff’s officers and a court order for drug intervention.
“She walks in with the sheriff and she says: ‘I have a court injunction here. You do it my way or we’re not going to do this at all,’” Houston recalled in the interview. “‘You’re going to go on TV and you’re going to retire. And say you’re going to give this up because it’s not worth it.’”
Houston enters rehab and takes a long hiatus.
Houston and Brown separate. They divorce the following year, and Houston receives sole custody of Bobbi Kristina.
Houston releases “I Look To You,” her first album in seven years.
Houston works to turn her career around with the movie “Sparkle,” the remake of a 1976 film said to be loosely inspired by the Supremes. The movie is set for release this summer.
February 7, 2012
Houston visits Dr. Shawn Nasseri, a Beverly Hills ear, nose and throat specialist, according to a source familiar with her visit.
February 8 and 9
Houston is seen ordering and consuming considerable quantities of alcohol at the Beverly Hilton hotel before 10 a.m., according to a source briefed on her behavior and activity in the days before her death. Guests on both days overhear Houston complaining loudly about her drinks, accusing bartenders of “watering down” or “putting too much ice” in them, the source said. Guests express concern about Houston’s erratic behavior, according to the source; her disheveled appearance, including mismatched clothing, suggested to them that she was intoxicated. Houston is seen jumping in and out of the pool and doing somersaults in the pool area, the source said.
Houston attends a pre-Grammys party to celebrate singer Kelly Price’s nominations. At one point, she joins Price on the stage and sings a hoarse rendition of “Jesus Loves Me.” (Price said Monday that Houston was not behaving erratically and “I didn’t see someone who was high” although she said Houston did drink champagne. Photos of Houston leaving the party appeared to show her sweaty and somewhat disheveled, although Price attributed her “messy” appearance to partygoers’ singing and dancing until the wee hours of Friday morning.)
Investigators are aware of Houston’s partying at the hotel and other venues the night before her death, a source close to the death investigation told CNN.
Houston is set to attend Clive Davis’ pre-Grammys party at the Beverly Hilton. She is seen drinking at the hotel pool in the morning, according to the source briefed on her behavior and activity, but witnesses report she was not behaving erratically.
Police and fire officials are summoned to Houston’s room after she is found unconscious in the room’s bathtub.
Houston is pronounced dead at age 48 after efforts to revive her are unsuccessful.
An autopsy is performed on Houston’s body. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office has said a cause of death is undetermined pending the results of toxicology tests.
Houston’s body is flown back to her native New Jersey.
Houston’s death certificate is filed in Los Angeles. It lists her cause of death as “deferred,” meaning a determination is delayed pending more information.
February 16 (investigation update)
The anti-anxiety medication Xanax was among prescription drugs found in the room, a source close to the death investigation says. Houston’s family members and staff confirmed she used the medication, the source says, but investigators don’t know whether she took it the day she died. No Valium or other drugs classified as benzodiazepines, or sedatives, were found in the room, according to the source. Medicine and pill bottles found in Houston’s hotel room are currently undergoing basic testing, but nothing so far indicates anything criminal occurred, the source says. Officials are trying to speed up toxicology testing.
By order of Gov. Chris Christie, flags in New Jersey fly at half-staff.
Family, friends and fellow stars remember Houston’s voice, love and – most of all – faith at her homegoing service at the New Jersey church in which she grew up. Actor Kevin Costner, singers Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys, and director-producer Tyler Perry are among those on hand to pay tribute to the pop superstar. During the private, televised service Houston’s fans log onto social media worldwide to share their emotions online.
CNN’s Don Lemon and Alan Duke contributed to this report.