Whitney Houston's mother on star's tragic death, rumoured lesbian romance and her fears for Bobbi K
It has been nearly a year since Whitney Houston passed away, the singer discovered unresponsive in a bath at the Beverly Hilton Hotel the night before the Grammys.
She was 48 when she died - a coroner ruling due to accidental drowning, with heart disease and chronic cocaine abuse listed as contributory factors.
Now, in a new memoir, the singer's mother, Cissy Houston, is opening up about her daughter's tragic death, her struggle with substance abuse and her concerns her 19-year-old granddaughter, Bobbi Kristina, might follow in her footsteps.
Mrs Houston, 79, spoke to People magazine's Elizabeth McNeil ahead of the publication's release of exclusive excerpts from the matriarch's new memoir, Remembering Whitney.
Questions about what she could have done differently, she reveals, plague her.
'Was I a good mother?' she asks. 'I still wonder if I could have saved her somehow. But there's no book written on how to be a parent. You do the best you can.'
In excerpt from the book, Mrs Houston recalls how she answered her phone at 6pm on February 11, 2012 and heard screams.
It was her son, Gary, hysterically crying about his sister. He told her she was dead.
'And that was the moment my whole world shattered,' Mrs Houston writes.
The Houston family matriarch recalls how she began tutoring her daughter with singing lessons as early as age 12 at their East Orange, New Jersey home.
'I taught her everything she knew... Nobody could have seen how big she'd be,' she told McNeil.
Not long after Whitney began singing, she was discovered by a fashion photographer and featured on the cover of Seventeen magazine.
Mrs Houston tells of how her little girl earned the nickname Nippy, after a mischievous comicbook character. But she would not learn until years later Whitney began partying around that time.
She writes: 'I had no idea about Nippy's "partying". And the truth is, back then I didn't really want to know about it.'
While trying to make a name for herself as a recording artist, Whitney met Robyn Crawford.
The women became close friends in the late 1970s, and after Whitney scored her second number one album with 1987's Whitney, Robyn moved into the singer's Menham, New Jersey home.
Rumours swirled about something romantic between the pair, but it's not a subject Mrs Houston cares to address - although she states clearly she wasn't a fan of her daughter's good friend.
'I know nothing about that. I didn't want her with my daughter,' Mrs Houston told McNeil.
She expands in an excerpt from her book: 'There was something about the way Robyn carried herself, a kind of arrogance, that I didn't like.'
Robyn, she admits, was one of the first to alert her to Whitney's drug use.
She writes candidly of a meeting between them in the late 1980s: 'She told me that Nippy was using drugs, that they both were on occasion, but that "Nippy likes it a little too much"'.
Mrs Houston confronted her daughter, who told her Robyn was overreacting, McNeil reports.
Her daughter met Bobby Brown in 1989, at the Soul Train Awards.
The couple married three years later and had their only child, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993. She admits even know she is worried about the 19-year-old, who she doesn't often get to see, but is 'trying to make sure she doesn't (follow the same path)'.
At the start of her daughter's relationship with the R&B badboy, Mrs Houston expressed her concerns to Whitney - she didn't think Bobby was good for her but 'they seemed smitten'. Looking back, she has few kind words for the former New Edition star.