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“Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston. My heartfelt condolences to Whitney’s family and to all her millions of fans throughout the world. She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth.” — Mariah Carey

Whitney Houston died a year ago today at the age of 48 after being found dead in the bathtub of her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California, hours before she was to attend a pre-Grammy Awards party.

The Los Angeles Coroner’s office, in its report on Houston’s death, concluded that it was “due to drowning due to effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use.  No foul play is suspected.  The mode of death is accident.”

The singer, well-known for her sky-high ballads was remembered over the weekend at the annual pre-Grammy party hosted in Beverly Hills by record producer Clive Davis.

Following Houston’s premature death, her ex-husband, Bobby Brown was blamed for her downfall.  In 2011, Brown spoke exclusively to me in his first UK interview for over a decade about his marriage with Houston prior to her sudden death and why she was a “strong woman.”

October 1992: Whitney and Bobby’s engagement photo. Credit: L. Cohen/WireImage.com

We all witnessed Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston’s rapid growth and bewildering fall. Their every move and every tumble right before our eyes. “I went through so many things, and I’m just grateful that God has given me a second chance. I have been clean for six years now, and I just feel wonderful that everything in my life is going in the right direction,” the RnB bad boy openly tells me.

The 43-year-old,who shared a turbulent relationship with the singer—said he had no regrets about their past. “I am really proud of the man who I am, so I don’t think I would change anything because it has brought me to today. Any man, who has been through what I have and lived through it, can’t have any regrets.”

Brown and Houston shared a fourteen year marriage after tying the knot on July 18, 1992 in Mendham, New Jersey. It was no secret of the couple’s public battle with drugs. Earlier to her sudden death on 11 February 2012, Brown reminisces on his time with Houston: “Whitney is an amazing woman. I love her dearly. We shared some great moments together…”

Undoubtedly one of the most iconic female singers in the last three decades —Houston a six times Grammy-winner, has sold over 200 million records worldwide. Shortly after their marriage, Houston and Brown’s lives began spiralling out of control.

After a well-chronicled history of drug abuse Houston briefly overcame her dependence and made a comeback in 2009, with ‘I Look To You.’ The album, which topped the charts, was hugely successful in the US and in various other countries. However, in the autumn of 2011, it was discovered that she had entered rehab for drug and alcohol treatment.

On hearing the news of her return , Brown boldly told me: “Whitney is a great person and a strong woman, so I expect the best from her. I wish her all of my love, and all the greatness that she is I just wish her the best.” One thing that remained obvious to me whilst talking to Brown was that he still cared very deeply for Houston, and their only child Bobbi Kristina.

1963 – 2012. Credit: Getty

In 2006, a Sudanese writer claiming to have been Osama Bin Laden’s sex slave released a book in which she says Bin Laden was infatuated with Houston. The al-Qaeda leader, according to the author, Kola Boof wanted to make Houston one of his wives, and also said he wanted Brown killed. When asked about this Brown simply laughed and said: “I heard about that rumour… I’m glad he’s gone.”

Brown, whose mother, Carol Brown, passed away in 2011, invited Houston to sing at her funeral. Even though, she was able to witness his highs and infamous lows throughout his career, Brown reassured me: “Before she passed away she was proud of me.” He also added: “I have everything to live for as there are so many things I would still like to do.”

Brown, made it obvious to me that he was willing to acknowledge that he had made mistakes, but at all times was looking ahead to the future.  He explained to me with wife, Alicia Etheridge at his side: “I am now happily married. I now also have a son [Cassius] who I love very much. He can be a challenge at times, but I love challenges.”

Over the years, Houston and Brown faced many trials. Whitney may be gone, but a year later, her legacy lives on. In a way, Houston’s death has pushed the focus back to her musical greatness and away from the personal difficulties that dominated news.

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