Whitney Houston’s sudden and tragic death at the age of 48 was very much in evidence last night, as celebrities and music artists paid tribute to the late singer at the 54th Grammy Awards.
Picture credit: Rex Features
Rapper LL Cool J headed up proceedings, opening the annual music event with a prayer for Whitney and her family. He said: "There is no way around this. We’ve had a death in our family. And so at least for me, the only thing that feels right is to begin with a prayer, for a woman we all loved, for our fallen sister, Whitney Houston.
He continued, "Heavenly father, we thank you for sharing our sister Whitney with us. Today our thoughts are with her mother, her daughter and all of her loved ones. And although she has gone too soon, we remain truly blessed to have been touched by her beautiful spirit."
In front of a star-studded audience that included Sir Paul McCartney, Katy Perry and Mitch Winehouse, his words were followed by video footage of Whitney performing the now iconic song I Will Always Love You at the Grammys back in 1994.
The tribute was extended later in the evening, as singer Jennifer Hudson offered up her own pitch-perfect rendition of Whitney’s ballad in front of the guests and industry figures.
Earlier on the red carpet, friend and singer Kelly Price broke down in tears during an interview about Whitney’s life and career. The two stars were photographed sharing a stage last Thursday - at what would be Whitney’s last public performance - singing a duet of Yes Jesus Loves Me. Shortly after news of Houston’s death broke, Price told the media, “"In my heart, I was hoping (her death) was a hoax … to realize that it wasn't, I can’t even explain."
Whitney died in her suite at the Beverley Hilton Hotel late on Saturday afternoon. The singer was expected to attend long-time mentor and producer Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy party that evening. Although an autopsy was carried out on Sunday 12 February, official reports of the exact cause of death are not expected to be released for another 5-6 weeks.