Grammys give Whitney Houston a glittering salute

Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:18am EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Whitney Houston was given a final sendoff by the Grammys on Thursday as Halle Berry, Britney Spears, Jennifer Hudson, Usher and other stars shared their memories and performed in homage to the late singer.

Academy-award winner Berry made a tearful introduction at the "We Will Always Love You: A Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston" special, and praised the "unforgettable" performer.

"She inspired a generation of little girls and women to believe in their own dream and to know that they had within themselves the greatest gift of all. I was one of those little girls who then became a woman who never ever, ever, stopped loving Whitney Houston," Berry said.

The event was attended by Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, who was joined by boyfriend Nick Gordon and sister-in-law Pat Houston.

Noticeably absent was Houston's mother, Cissy, and her brother Gary. Record label executive Clive Davis, who discovered the late singer, sat alongside the family in the front row.

The tribute comes towards the end of a year in which the music world was rocked by Houston's sudden death at age 48 in February. She was found dead in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub on the night before the Grammy awards, from what authorities said was accidental drowning brought on by cocaine use and heart disease.

A homage to Houston was quickly put together at the Grammy awards in February with Jennifer Hudson singing a heart-felt rendition of "I Will Always Love You" on a stage lit by a single spotlight. Later in May, R&B star Jordin Sparks, who co-starred with Houston in the late singer's final movie "Sparkle," sang the same song at the Billboard Music Awards in tribute.

There was no mention of Houston's turbulent personal life and history of drug abuse on Thursday as the Grammy organizers decided to focus on the late singer's career achievements and best-known performances, including her rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the 1991 Superbowl.   Continued...

Singer Jennifer Hudson performs a medley during the taping of "We Will Always Love You: A Grammy Salute To Whitney Houston" at the Nokia theatre in Los Angeles, California October 11, 2012. The program will air on November 16. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni