Investigators worked Sunday to piece together what killed Whitney Houston as the music industry’s biggest names gathered for a Grammy Awards show that felt as much like a memorial as a celebration.
Coroner’s officials say they will not release any information on an autopsy performed Sunday at the request of police detectives investigating the singer’s death.
The singer was found in the bathtub of her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, but Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter declined to say anything more about the room’s condition or any evidence investigators recovered.
He said there were no obvious signs of trauma on Houston’s body, but that officials were not ruling out any causes of death until they have toxicology results, which will take weeks to obtain.
Beverly Hills Police Lt. Mark Rosen said that his agency may release more details today about Houston’s death, but it will depend on whether detectives feel comfortable releasing any information.
A member of Houston’s entourage found the 48-year-old singer unresponsive in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, just hours before she was supposed to appear at a pre-Grammy gala.
Rosen said there were no signs of foul play when Houston was found by a member of her entourage. Paramedics worked to revive Houston, but were unsuccessful and the singer was pronounced dead shortly before 4 p.m. He said he could not comment on the condition of Houston’s room or where she had been found.
Meanwhile, Houston’s daughter was transported by ambulance to a Los Angeles hospital Sunday morning and later released. A source close to the family who did not want to speak given the sensitivity of the matter said she was treated and released for stress and anxiety. Bobbi Kristina Brown, 18, who is Houston’s daughter from her marriage to singer Bobby Brown, had accompanied her mother to several pre-Grammy Awards events last week.
“At this time, we ask for privacy, especially for my daughter, Bobbi Kristina,” Bobby Brown wrote in a statement released about an hour after she was transported from the hotel. “I appreciate all of the condolences that have been directed towards my family and I at this most difficult time.”
Sunday’s Grammys were to feature a musical tribute to Houston by Jennifer Hudson, and early on LL Cool J introduced a clip of a glowing Houston singing one of her best-known songs, “I Will Always Love You.” LL Cool J then said: “Whitney, we will always love you.”
Houston herself won six Grammys and had been expected to perform at the pre-awards gala Saturday night thrown by music impresario Clive Davis, her longtime mentor.
Davis went ahead with his annual party and concert, which were held at the same hotel where Houston’s body was found — and where it remained for most of Saturday night. He dedicated the evening to her and asked for a moment of silence.
Houston had been at rehearsals for the Davis concert on Thursday, coaching singers Brandy and Monica, according to a person who was at the event but was not authorized to speak publicly about it.
The person said Houston looked disheveled, was sweating profusely and liquor and cigarettes could be smelled on her breath. It was the latest of countless stories about the decline of a uniquely gifted and beautiful artist, once the golden girl of the music industry.
The Rev. Al Sharpton remembered Houston while preaching Sunday morning at the Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles.
“Yes, she had an outstanding range,” he said. “Yes, she could hit notes no one else could reach. But what made her different was she was born and bred in the bosom of the black church.”
The congregation applauded and answered him with shouts of “Amen” and “Tell it!”
“A lot of artists can hit notes but they don’t hit us. Say words but they have no meaning. Have gifts and talent but no anointing. Something about Whitney that would reach in you and make you feel,” Sharpton said.
A sensation from her very first album, she was one of the world’s best-selling artists from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. She awed millions with soaring, but disciplined vocals rooted in gospel and polished for the masses, a bridge between the earthy passion of her godmother, Aretha Franklin, and the bouncy pop of her cousin, Dionne Warwick.
Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she became a rare black actress with box office appeal, starring in such hits as “The Bodyguard” and “Waiting to Exhale.” Bishop T.D. Jakes, a Texas minister and producer on Houston’s final film project, a re-make of the 1970s release “Sparkle,” said he saw no signs she was having any substance issues. He said Houston was a complete professional and moved the cast and crew to tears two months ago when she sang the gospel hymn “His Eye is on the Sparrow” for a scene shot in Detroit.
“There was no evidence in working with her on ‘Sparkle’ that there was any struggle in her life,” Jakes said Sunday. “She just left a deep impression on everybody.”
She had the perfect voice and the perfect image: gorgeous, but wholesome; grounded, but unloving. And she influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey, who when she first came out, sounded so much like Houston that many couldn’t tell the difference.