Before her untimely death, Whitney Houston struggled to bring her unparalleled voice back to its former glory.
Even though it had become a bit raspy over the years, Whitney’s voice was still much better than most; but like most perfectionists, that wasn’t enough.
"She used to say to me, ‘People have standards that they expect you to live up to. I mean, I can’t. … I have a problem with that, myself, trying to live up to what I once was,’" said Whitney’s voice coach Gary Catona.
Gary worked with Whitney for approximately four years, from 2005 to 2009, ABC News reports. At that time, Gary and Whitney worried that she might not be able to rebound.
"It appeared to be so damaged that when I first began working with her, I was not sure what I could do," Gary said. "She virtually had maybe one or two tones in her lower register, that was it.”
Fans who turned out in droves to hear Whitney in concert know all too well that the “I Will Always Love You” singer struggled at times. Notes that she once seemed to be able to hit in her sleep were often just out of her reach.
While some artists endure the effects of aging or health issues, Whitney had to deal with the fact that her own choices may have harmed her vocally.
“She knew in her heart of hearts that this special gift that she had was being undermined by her own activities,” Gary said.
Whitney’s admitted drug use likely took a toll on her voice, as did her affinity for cigarettes.
“She had to conquer a drug addiction and that takes all of her energy, but she also has had a very difficult time giving up cigarettes," her manager Clive Davis once told KOST 103.5 radio in Los Angeles.
Gary remembers catching an ashamed Whitney with cigarettes following one of their 30-minute sessions.
“I left her house with my keyboard, and I had forgotten something, and I walked back in and she had a cigarette in her hand,” Gary recounts. “She saw me. She said, ‘Oh Gary,’ and she hugged me, and threw the cigarette over my shoulder as she was hugging me."
Watch a clip from the Whitney Houston "20/20" special.
—Tracy L. Scott
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