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New ‘Whitney’ biopic offers insight into singer’s tortured life | Faith | The Advocate | theadvocate.com

New ‘Whitney’ biopic offers insight into singer’s tortured life | Faith | The Advocate | theadvocate.com

New ‘Whitney’ biopic offers insight into singer’s tortured life | Faith | The Advocate | theadvocate.com
July 22
10:52 2018

Whitney Houston grew up singing in the church, but her wholesome image was just that — an image.

In the new documentary “Whitney,” which had the blessing and cooperation of the superstar’s family and friends, Scotland’s Kevin Macdonald shows how as a teen Houston already was smoking pot and doing cocaine, thanks to her own brother, Michael Houston.

The filmmaker secured about 70 interviews with the superstar’s mom, brothers and others eager to share her story. There are rarely seen photos and film clips from the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the footage is riveting.

A native of Newark, New Jersey, Houston spent her teen years modeling and singing backup for her mother, gospel and R&B singer Cissy Houston. She made her TV debut in 1983 on “The Merv Griffin Show,” just a slip of a girl with uncanny control of her powerful, five-octave voice.

“Whitney Houston” was the best-selling debut album by a woman in history, and her second disc, “Whitney,” was the first album by a woman to debut at No. 1.

Macdonald simply lets the cameras roll, and the secrets, like her drug use as a teen, just pour out.

Houston’s parents divorced because her mother had an affair with the pastor of their church. Some in the star’s inner circle confirm longtime rumors of a lesbian relationship between Houston and her roommate and confidante, Robyn Crawford. And it was her brothers who routinely bought illicit drugs for Whitney in city after city when she was on tour.

The biggest bombshell: When they were children, Houston and at least one of her brothers were sexually molested by an older cousin, singer Dee Dee Warwick (now deceased), the sister of singer Dionne Warwick.

Was that the unbearable pain that fueled Houston’s addiction?

Macdonald, whose credits include “One Day in September,” “The Last King of Scotland” and “Black Sea,” rarely intrudes upon these revelations. Some of the historical, scene-setting clips of the ’80s and ’90s are a bit jarring, but they rarely interrupt the main focus — the inexorable unraveling of a soul.

To call Houston a superstar is an understatement. She is the only performer to have seven consecutive No. 1 singles, surpassing milestones previously set by the Beatles and the Bee Gees. And her rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” from her first film, “The Bodyguard,” is the best-selling single by a woman in history. The highly acclaimed soundtrack sold at least 45 million copies, making it the world’s top album by a female performer.

But drug addiction robbed the star of her beauty, her health, her money and, finally, her ability to sing — that indescribable talent that many simply labeled The Voice. When she drowned in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton hotel in 2012, she was only 48 years old.

At the end, her life was a train wreck, and Macdonald captures it perfectly.

Source: New ‘Whitney’ biopic offers insight into singer’s tortured life | Faith | The Advocate | theadvocate.com

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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