What The Last 12 Months Of Whitney Houston's Life Were Like

Popstar Whitney Houston was a legend, known for her powerful, three-octave range and undeniable charm. She was fiercely ambitious and sold as many as 200 million videos, songs, and albums in her lifetime. Her list of achievements is endless: she scored eight multi-platinum albums in a row and topped the Billboard Hot 100 seven consecutive times, paving the way forward for other vocalists, from Mariah Carey to Adele.

While the first half of Whitney Houston's career was marked by million-selling studio albums and a promising move to film, she experienced a massive downturn later, fighting her addiction to drugs and alcohol and surviving a toxic marriage. Houston's career grew shakier, as she struggled to stay afloat in the entertainment industry and resurrect her career. The last year of Whitney Houston's life was full of surprises: establishing new career goals, grappling with her old demons, and coping with her dwindling finances. Here's a look at pop legend Whitney Houston's final year of life before her death on February 11, 2012.

Whitney Houston was dealing with addiction issues

Whitney Houston struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol for a major part of her life, and in 2011, was moving towards recovery. As per Los Angeles Times, she'd been open with the public about substance abuse. Houston's issues with pills, cocaine, and alcohol had been longstanding — in 2000, her bag was confiscated before a flight because she was traveling with marijuana.

In May 2011, the 47-year-old singer voluntarily sought help from a rehabilitation program. Houston faced major roadblocks while touring in 2010, unable to deliver during her live shows and attracting criticism from audiences. Lots of people speculated that the star was in trouble and needed help for addiction. According to Reuters, fans complained that the star was truly out of form and could barely get through her sets. At her Brisbane show, concert-goers decided to walk out of her show.

Whitney Houston's rep revealed to People that the decision to enter rehab was entirely Whitney's. "Whitney Houston is currently in an out-patient rehab program for drug and alcohol treatment," the rep said. "Whitney voluntarily entered the program to support her long-standing recovery process." News of her stint at the rehab program was widely covered by news outlets but details were few and far in between.

Houston was focusing on films

In her final year, Whitney Houston was determined to be active in the professional circuit. She was enthusiastic about a film she'd been signed up for: Sparkle, a remake of a 1976 film in which three siblings from Harlem struggle to become singers. Whitney Houston played mom to American Idol star Jordin Sparks. According to Variety, the film boasted an impressive ensemble cast, and musician R. Kelly composed music for the film.

As per ABC News, the movie was a comeback of sorts for Houston. She worked with producer Debra Martin Chase who she had previously collaborated with on successful projects such as The Princess Diaries.

The two shared a deep friendship and were pumped to work together again. "It was the first time that we had seen young women of color fabulous," Chase explained to ABC News. "We both just loved it. We were both inspired by it. And so when she mentioned, 12 years ago, 'what about we remake Sparkle," I was like, 'oh my God, of course,' and the journey began."

While the film was delayed for a long time due to unprecedented circumstances, the duo finally got their chance in 2011. Houston embraced the role, working on getting it right. Unfortunately, she passed away before the film's release. It made it to the big screen in August 2012.

Whitney Houston's voice was suffering

Whitney Houston's once remarkable voice quality had declined over the years. This was attributed to her smoking habit as well as her rocky relationship with drugs. Her former coach, Gary Catona, reflected on the setbacks the singer encountered in her life. "It appeared to be so damaged that when I first began working with her, I was not sure what I could do," Catona told ABCNews. "She'd say, 'I know I've done things that have hurt me ... and I have to change it,'" he added.

The voice coach revealed that Houston was vulnerable and spoke about the immense pressure she was under. He added that she was acutely aware of the consequences of her bad habits. "She knew in her heart of hearts that this special gift that she had was being undermined by her own activities," Catona said.

In 2011, Clive Davis, Whitney Houston's mentor, spoke up publicly and said that the singer needed some time off. "Whitney has admitted that 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," Davis said to radio station KOST 103.5 FM. "I know that she's committed to do it. [...] We're not going to make a record or an album until that golden voice, you know, is there and is fully capable of just knocking everybody out."

Whitney Houston was being considered for The X-Factor

Whitney Houston didn't just have her eyes set on the movies. She was also eyeing a spot on the popular reality show, The X-Factor. The rumors were confirmed after Houston died. Simon Cowell, the show's creator and entertainment mogul, said that the singer was definitely being considered as a mentor.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cowell told CNN's Piers Morgan that Houston seemed to be very interested and he'd come to know about the rumors. Reportedly, Cowell was set to discuss the possible mentorship the same week of Houston's passing. "We were ironically going to meet on Monday and of course, one of the names we were going to be talking about in that meeting as a possible mentor on the new series of X-Factor was going to be Whitney Houston," Cowell explained.

He added that he would have personally really liked to work with the singer and that she would have been a solid addition to The X-Factor. "Given the choice, I would have liked to have taken her under my wing as well, because she would have been the ultimate, ultimate mentor to any contestant coming on the show," Cowell said.

Houston had to think about her finances

Whitney Houston was grappling with practical difficulties including keeping her expenses together in the last year of her life. According to NYDailyNews, things were so tough that at one point, Houston was forced to ask her friends to chip in to pay her mortgages. Her tough financial situation was attributed to several factors including drug abuse and a bitter legal fight with her stepmother over a life insurance payout amounting to $1 million after her father's passing.

Clive Davis had decided to rescue Houston from her tough spot by pitching in to salvage her properties in New Jersey and Atlanta. Her first film in 15 years, Sparkle, was one thing the singer was counting on to dig her out of debt. This was, of course, in stark contrast to the singer in her heyday, when she struck a deal with Arista for $100 million and raked in $30 million a year on tour. Houston's limited finances meant that she was under pressure to make enough money in her final year to be able to clear all her debt and make a fresh start.

Whitney Houston lost her temper on a flight

Despite trying hard to stay in control, Whitney Houston had a tough time in October 2011. While on a flight from Atlanta to Detroit, the singer ended up engaging in a war of words with the cabin crew. Houston refused to cooperate with crewmembers. She didn't fasten her seatbelt and had a verbal spat with a crew member until another flight attendant decided to intervene. The latter fastened the singer's seatbelt for her.

A source told People that during the onboard spat, Whitney Houston didn't appear intoxicated and was likely quite sober. "She wasn't drunk, drinking or on drugs; she was just exhausted," the source stated. Another source explained to a journalist from E! News that Whitney Houston had a very tough schedule and was really tired. "She is in the middle of filming a movie and flew across country to attend a charity event and return to filming. She was exhausted," they said.

On the surface, Houston seemed set for new beginnings

Despite the hiccups she encountered, Whitney Houston really wanted to change her life. She was spending more time than ever on her passion: music. According to a piece by Vanity Fair, Houston was really looking forward to a new start in terms of her career. Her hairdresser, Tiffanie Dixon had observed how devoted the singer was to turning over a new life and giving up on her old habits such as smoking. Houston even considered going for a face-lift but had to forgo the idea after the plastic surgeon noted that she didn't pass the physical exam that tested the condition of her heart, lungs, and liver.

The singer was making strides in her personal life as well. Post her tumultuous breakup with Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston was focusing on herself and was rumored to be dating a new man, singer Willie "Ray J" Norwood. Whitney Houston was also doubling down on her efforts to recover and regularly communicating with her old drug counselor, Warren Boyd. As per producer Harvey Mason Jr. who worked with the star in her final year, Houston was focused. "She was way more energetic than the young people, more excited to be in the studio, more passionate to make something outstanding," he said.

Whitney Houston stayed religious

Whitney Houston was deeply religious and often turned to her faith in times of grief and uncertainty. According to Vanity Fair, whenever Houston struggled, she would pray. Even as she was struggling to stay afloat in her last days, she openly talked to those around her about God. In fact, the artist was so deeply involved in her faith, she even spent some time simply praying in a nightclub with an artist, El DeBarge, who like Houston, struggled to beat his addiction issues.

One of Houston's friends, Kim Burrell, a gospel singer, told CNN that she shared a few voice messages with Houston before she passed away and one of the last messages had gospel music notes in the background. The two would pray together at times while conversing over the phone. "Whitney knew to go to God. Whitney knew how to pray," Burrell said. "I'm very confident that whatever her last moments were, she knew that God could be there for her...she's with him today."

Houston was working on her voice quality

Whitney Houston was trying to improve her voice quality in her final days. In February 2011, she met producer Harvey Mason Jr. at his studio to record a song for Sparkle. The single was called "Celebrate", and its lyrics were penned by R. Kelly. The track was going to be a duet with Jordin Sparks.

The singer warmed up for a while before taking over the mic. According to Rolling Stone, Houston was determined to get the track right and didn't leave any stone unturned, practicing relentlessly for many days. "Whitney had days when she sounded amazing; she had days when she sounded decent; and she had days when she sounded not so great," Mason said. "But she was really working to improve."

This particular rehearsal went rather well and Houston could barely contain her excitement as she asked Mason, "You got it, you got it?" He said that he'd managed to get the track and the duo spent some time listening to it and dancing around inside the studio. It was an energetic, happy anthem and the way it was coming together had made Whitney Houston briefly elated.

Whitney Houston got into a fight days before her death

On February 9, 2012, Whitney Houston attended singer Kelly Price's party at a nightclub called Tru Hollywood. Her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, was also present. According to ABCNews, the singer performed with Price at the party in what was ultimately the final live performance of her career. The singer ended up exchanging heated words with another singer, Stacy Francis, who was a former finalist on The X-Factor.

Francis had earlier expressed her admiration for Houston in interviews and said she was inspired by her. However, at this particular party, the two ended up arguing. While things seemed civil at first, as soon as Ray J entered the conversation, the exchange took a turn for the worse. Whitney just got belligerent," a source who was present told The Hollywood Reporter. "Ray was trying to defend Stacy, telling Whitney, 'Stacy's family!', but Whitney was feeling crowded out and hands were raised." While things didn't get much worse, the source added that it was a tense moment. "You didn't know which way it could go there for a minute," the witness said. When Francis was asked about her take on the incident, she simply said, "I have the utmost respect for Whitney Houston and her talent."

Whitney Houston's behavior got erratic

While Whitney Houston seemed to be on the mend, her old habits made a comeback in her final days. Right after her recording session with her producer, Houston seemed to take comfort in returning to her old partying ways, going to several Hollywood nightclubs and drinking excessively. According to a Rolling Stone piece, Houston also showed up to a press conference that was being overlooked by Clive Davis, reeking of cigarette smoke and booze.

Musician Chaka Khan spoke out against the music business after Whitney Houston's passing. According to Vanity Fair, a major point of criticism raised by Khan was the idea that Houston was left all alone in a city full of parties and temptation a few months after her rehab stint. "Whoever flew her out to perform at that party should've provided someone to be there, to somehow keep the riffraff from out of the situation, to keep some of the dangerous people away," Khan alleged. Whitney Houston definitely seemed to be revisiting her old habits — reportedly, she threw a huge tantrum after drinking in her hotel, declaring that the drinks she was being served were watered down. Houston also performed handstands near the swimming pool and broke down over a headline in the National Enquirer that accused her of being reckless and unstable.

Circumstances around Houston's death were not clear

On February 11, 2012, Whitney Houston was found unresponsive in her hotel room's bathtub. The singer, who was scheduled to attend a pre-Grammy Awards party that night, was found by her assistant, Mary Jones. According to Vanity Fair, when Jones discovered Houston in the bath, she panicked and called Ray Watson, who was the singer's brother-in-law and bodyguard. Watson had been waiting outside in the hall and keeping watch. The duo attempted CPR in a bid to revive Houston and also contacted 911.

Police arriving at the scene looked for evidence of foul play but instead found alcohol, food, and what was labeled "a white crystal-like substance" in the bathroom. Details of Whitney Houston's death remained murky until an autopsy report six weeks later offered details into the singer's untimely death. According to CNN, Whitney Houston's death was ruled as a case of accidental drowning with atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine abuse added as factors that contributed to it. The "I Will Always Love You" singer, who had captivated international audiences with her spine-tingling voice, was working right up until her tragic death. Whitney Houston was just 48. In a chilling twist, Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina, would be found dead in a bathtub about three years later.