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SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2015

Cissy Houston’s Book Remembering Whitney Hits Stores Today

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cissy whitney


EDGEWATER, N.J. – Gospel and soul artist and celebrity mom Cissy Houston had

never planned to add author to her resume.

But then, Houston hadn’t expected that her famous daughter would die at 48, leav-

ing behind a legacy of both enormous success and avidly documented struggles and

posing questions that were, in her mother’s view, being addressed by the wrong peo-


“Everyone was writing crap about Whitney,” says Houston, 79. “I was reading things

that weren’t true, and that’s when I decided that I needed to do something.”

Cissy doesn’t mince words on the page, either. Her book, Remembering Whitney: My

Story of Love, Loss and the Night the Music Stopped (HarperCollins), written with

Lisa Dickey, arrives Tuesday. It offers a portrait of Whitney Houston as a loving daugh-

ter, sister and mother, a meticulous musician and a consummate professional who

never took her achievements or her blessings for granted.

But Remembering Whitney also explores, often with surprising frankness, more trou-

bled aspects of the pop superstar’s life and career, from her drug abuse to her tumult-

uous marriage to Bobby Brown. Cissy remembers visiting her daughter in the hospital

after she required surgery for a two-inch gash in her cheek, suffered while she was on

a cruise with Brown. The couple “swore up and down later that it was just a freak acci-

dent,” the result of Brown slamming his fist down while “acting out about something,”

sending a china shard flying.

There’s also a harrowing account of Cissy arriving at the couple’s Atlanta home accom-

panied by two sheriff’s deputies and armed with a court injunction to retrieve Whitney

for rehab: “I was shaking with emotion, holding the piece of paper out toward her …

She just stood there looking at me. The light had gone out of her eyes, and my baby

looked so, so tired.”

“Nippy,” the affectionate nickname by which Cissy refers to her daughter, “was better

than anybody I know at keeping her stuff private — at least, private from me,” she writes

at one point. And later: “I’m still so angry — at Nippy, at the world, at myself. There are

days when the questions just consume me … Was I a good mother? Was I too hard on

her? And the worst one of all — could I have saved her somehow?”

The book begins, as its title suggests, on Feb. 11, 2012, the day that Whitney was discov-

ered lifeless in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where she had planned to attend

the annual pre-Grammy Awards gala thrown that evening by her music industry mentor,

Clive Davis. (The cause of death was determined to be accidental drowning, with heart

disease and cocaine use cited as contributing factors.)

She expresses reservations in the book about Robyn Crawford, Whitney’s longtime friend

and sometime housemate and business associate. Cissy writes that upon meeting Craw-

ford, she was taken aback by her “arrogance” and “abrasive” behavior, also noting, “As I

would later learn, she was also gay, although that had nothing to do with why I didn’t like


Cissy eventually came to appreciate Crawford’s genuine concern for Whitney, though.

When the subject comes up, she says simply, “Robyn was a friend.” But she adds, “I get

a pretty good take on people when I meet them, and sometimes — I always wanted to pro-

tect Whitney from people, that’s all. From a few other people, too.”

That would obviously include New Edition star Brown, whom Cissy makes clear would

not have been her first choice for a son-in-law. She writes that the dissolution of his

marriage to Whitney, “just like with the drugs, wasn’t all Bobby’s fault,” and that “deep

down he was a good person.” But there are numerous references to his run-ins with

the law, abusive and manipulative behavior, and seeming resentment of the greater

fame and deeper respect his wife generated.

“I don’t think her husband was any good for her,” Cissy says when Brown’s name is

raised. “I’ve said it before and I will say it again.”

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