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Whitney Houston would have been 50 years old today

It’s been nearly a year and a half since pop music lost one of the biggest, purest voices it ever had.

There’s not much that hasn’t been said about Whitney Houston’s life and legacy since she died suddenly (though maybe not entirely unexpectedly) on Feb. 11, 2012. But it’s always worth revisiting her music — you can find EW’s essential Whitney playlist here, as well as a video collection and career-spanning photo gallery, or just dig into the countless tributes online.

To honor this day specifically, there’s a new Whitney-centric comic book — kind of odd, but well intentioned — and Sirius XM is hosting day-long special on their Heart & Soul channel, featuring some two decades of her music, plus remembrances from friends and family (including Cissy Houston, Pat Houston, Dionne Warwick, Clive Davis, Chaka Khan, and R. Kelly).

Readers, will you be remembering Whitney in your own way today? Let us know in the comments.

Whitney Houston: Remembering a music legend

When Whitney Houston died a year ago today, it wasn’t easy to know what her legacy would be. She left us too soon — not just at a tragically early age, but also at a middle chapter in a comeback story that everyone wanted so badly for her. We watched for years as erratic behavior and tabloid rumors tore away at her reputation, obscuring the Whitney we used to know: a singer so universally adored and limitlessly talented that she could perform feats of magic like turning “The Star Spangled Banner” into a Top 20 single 1991 or dusting off Dolly Parton’s cozy “I Will Always Love You” as a blockbuster, record-shattering hit. It felt impossible for a talent as big as hers to suddenly, silently disappear without one last burst of glory. And yet, when Houston was found dead in the Beverly Hilton at age 48 on February 11, 2012, that’s exactly what it seemed to do. READ FULL STORY

Clive Davis gala remembers Whitney Houston

Jennifer Hudson and Clive Davis. Image Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage

A year after Whitney Houston’s death, music executive Clive Davis remembered her in words — and video.

Houston died last year just hours before the annual Clive Davis Gala was to start. On Saturday, Davis said his world continues “to be so shattered by her passing” and that Houston’s death still feels “unreal.”

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Previously unreleased Whitney Houston song 'Never Give Up' hits the web -- listen to it here

Ahead of the release of the late Whitney Houston’s new greatest hits album, a previously unreleased song by the singer-actress hit the web Tuesday. The R&B song, called “Never Give Up,” recorded with producer Jermaine Dupri, was originally slated to be released on 2009 album I Look To You.

It’s an uplifting, motivational tune. “Never, never give up / Hold your head to the sky, look them right in the eyes / Tell them you will never quit until the day you get it right,” Houston sings.

The song is on the greatest hits collection I Will Always Love You — The Best of Whitney Houston, along with another posthumously released song, “I Look to You,” a duet with R. Kelly, which came out in September.

Check out “Never Give Up” in the lyric video below: READ FULL STORY

Whitney Houston getting primetime special, greatest hits package, photo book

When Whitney Houston died suddenly in February, near-immediate tributes sprung up everywhere from that weekend’s Grammy telecast and EW’s own print cover.

But some tributes, of course, can’t be wrought so quickly, and this coming November will bring a number of longer-gestating odes to the fallen superstar. On November 16, CBS will broadcast We Will Always Love You: A Grammy Salute To Whitney Houston, an hour-long primetime special that genuflects to Houston’s music with the aid of stars like Jennifer Hudson and Usher (with more to be announced). The special will tape at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theater on October 11, and tickets are on sale now.

That week in November will also sees the release of I Will Always Love You: The Best of Whitney Houston, a new collection of her biggest hits — including “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” and “My Love Is Your Love,” and 15 others. Also included: a new version of “I Look to You” featuring R. Kelly. Check it out below. READ FULL STORY

Full 'Sparkle' soundtrack now streaming; Jordin Sparks calls experience 'Bittersweet'

The release of Sparkle is still a month away, but the soundtrack album is hitting several weeks earlier, on July 31.

Written largely by R. Kelly and Curtis Mayfield, the album features vocal contributions from Jordin Sparks, Cee-Lo Green, and the late Whitney Houston. A handful of the songs have already been released, and now the entirety of the soundtrack is currently streaming at Essence.

EW spoke to Sparks this weekend about the experience of making Sparkle and dealing with the aftermath of Houston’s sudden passing. “It is hard because it is bittersweet,” Sparks says. “I worked with my idol and that was a dream come true. I used to watch the Cinderella adaptation with her and Brandy every day after school. But she should really be here promoting it with me and [it's] really hard for me to be doing it alone.”

“Singing her song at the Billboard awards was the hardest thing I have ever done,” she explained. “I think the only reason I got through it without sobbing was because she’s up there watching over me.”

Check out the Sparkle soundtrack streaming exclusively over at Essence. The album is in stores next Tuesday, with the movie hitting theaters on August 17.

Additional reporting by Carrie Bell

Read More on EW.com:
‘Sparkle’ soundtrack listing: Whitney Houston’s final recordings coming July 31
‘Sparkle': Video for Whitney Houston-Jordin Sparks duet ‘Celebrate’ debuts — WATCH
Whitney Houston duets with Jordin Sparks for ‘Sparkle’ track: Hear it here

Additional reporting by Carrie Bell

'Sparkle' soundtrack listing: Whitney Houston's final recordings coming July 31

When Whitney Houston passed away on February 11, there were rumors that she had been working on new music for her own solo album. Since it seems as though said rumors are little more than hopeful speculation, for now we can only assume that the tracks recorded for the upcoming soundtrack to Sparkle will be her last recordings.

The soundtrack listing to Sparkle, which comes out on July 31 in advance of the film’s August 17 theatrical release date, features a total of 11 tracks, including a pair of Houston songs (the solo track “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” and the Jordin Sparks duet “Celebrate”) and a total of seven contributions from Sparks.

Check out the entirety of the soundtrack listing below.  READ FULL STORY

Whitney Houston duets with Jordin Sparks for 'Sparkle' track: Hear it here

When Whitney Houston passed away back in February, she had already finished working on her final film Sparkle, a remake of a rags-to-riches flick from 1976 co-starring Jordin Sparks. That toil included Houston’s final new recordings, including the duet “Celebrate,” which just surfaced this morning.

Like all the music from Sparkle, this tag-team between Houston and Sparks was produced by R. Kelly, and his fingerprints are all over the bubbly backing track and unfussy arrangement.

Houston isn’t asked to do all that much, but the song drives home how authoritative her voice could still be and just how much Sparks’ approach owes to Whitney’s. Give “Celebrate” a spin below. READ FULL STORY

2012 Billboard Music Awards: 20 essential takeaways from the show

Like most music awards shows, the Billboard Music Awards are so not about the statuettes that are doled out. The show — which aired live last night on ABC from the MGM Grand Hotel, with hosts, Modern Family stars Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell — is typically more about everything but the awards: performances, tributes, collaborations, and other sundry craziness.

Hell, even the fashion — hello to Miley Cyrus’ barely-there suit jacket — is more important than the prizes! And that was no different this year. Just a handful of the 46 awards were actually given out during the show (LMFAO dominated), which was jolted to life with performances from Katy Perry, Cee Lo Green, and Linkin Park; tributes to Robin Gibb, Donna Summer, Whitney Houston, the Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch, and Stevie Wonder; a collaboration between Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys; and a heartfelt speech by Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown.

Here are 20 essential takeaways from the evening:

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'VH1 Divas' will tribute Whitney Houston: Who should participate?

EW has confirmed the recent news that VH1 is planning a tribute to Whitney Houston to air as a part of its long-running Diva series. The special will tape in Los Angeles in December, with her longtime musical director Ricky Minor serving as executive producer. Whitney’s family — and her label at Sony — have given their blessing for the special to move forward.

Since the taping is several months away, no artists have yet to be confirmed. But that’s where we fans of Whitney can come into play, mostly by answering the question: Who is best to fete Whitney at a Divas tribute? Let’s look at the most likely suspects that might turn up:

+ JENNIFER HUDSON: She’s an obvious choice, seeing as how she already paid tribute to Houston earlier this year at the Grammys, when she flawlessly sang “I Will Always Love You.” But in the spirit of mixing things up — and Hudson maybe not wanting to overshadow what she did for Houston at the Grammys — she could also opt not to participate and let someone step into the spotlight.

+ THE DIVAS PAST: Any number of former participants would be welcome additions to a Houston tribute, as Houston herself showed up on the special in 1999 (singing “Ain’t No Way” with Mary J. Blige and “I’m Every Woman” with Chaka Kahn), 2002 (helping Mary J. Blige out with “Rainy Dayz”), and 2003 (“Something in Common/My Love is Your Love” with ex-husband Bobby Brown and “I Was Made to Love Her” in a Stevie Wonder tribute). Divas, despite their competitive nature, do tend to run together. Others Divas alums who could potential show up include Mariah Carey (who also sang “When You Believe” with Houston), Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Diana Ross, Cher, Tina Turner, Beyoncé, Adele, and Kelly Clarkson.

+ BOBBY BROWN: There’s little chance Houston’s ex-husband and New Edition singer won’t be there. The big question is: Will he perform? And if so, what will he perform?

+ STEVIE WONDER: Houston sang the mid-tempo duet “We Didn’t Know” (from her 1990 album I’m Your Baby Tonight) with the legend and also paid tribute to him at the 2003 Divas concert, so it’s pretty much a lock that he’ll be there to fete her in some way.

+ DIONNE WARWICK: She’s Houston’s cousin — and a legendary singer herself. Seems only natural that, if she’s up for it emotionally, she’d be there.

READ FULL STORY

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