What happened to Whitney Houston's voice?

According to one expert, Houston's voice died long before she did

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According to one expert, Houston's voice died long before she did

Whitney Houston, right, and her daughter, 18-year-old Bobbi Kristina Brown. Photo Wiki Commons.

When you think of the late Whitney Houston and her untimely death, it’s hard not to hold pity and sadness over the comeback that never happened. In the 80s and 90s, the pop sensations voice was the talk of the water cooler. Her voice was bigger than life, with the ability and talent to reach notes of superhuman ability. One of her most famous voice stretching wonderment’s was her version of ‘I Will Always Love You’ from her 1992 starring role in ‘The Bodyguard’. Some call it a ‘vocal masterpiece’. In an early 2000s ‘True Hollywood Story’, the video’s producer said that Houston was able to nail the song and video in just a few takes.

After the breakup of her tumultuous relationship with singer Bobby Brown in 2006, Houston seemed committed to cleaning up her act and forging a come-back, a come-back that never really happened. Houston’s voice was too damaged. No longer able to hit the high notes, or hold or project her voice like she once did, it was rumored that Houston was booed during her 2010 world tour performances overseas, with disappointed fans seen leaving.

So, what happened to her voice?

Some say that years and years of smoking cocaine and illegal drug dependency damaged her voice. Some say it was rather the years and years of chain smoking and stress. Her publicist even suggested as much in response to the sharp criticism on her last tour. Houston, herself, often blamed her failure to rest her vocal cords and straining them by talking too much to dismayed and disappointed audiences over the world over last few years.


According to one expert, Eric Arceneaux, a Washington vocal coach, Houston damaged her voice after developing nodules from straining her voice and not knowing how to manage and care for her vocal cords.

He told USA Today in 2010:

“Whitney is immensely talented but technically deficient. Houston’s tendency to push her “chest voice” into the stratosphere, rather than rely on the lighter, gentler “head voice,” may sound dazzling, “but it’s extremely damaging. It causes hoarseness, irritated vocal folds, calluses. It often requires surgery and rehabilitation.”

“Whitney was known for a free, flute-y head voice, and now it’s just air. That tells me something’s really wrong, because it’s usually the last thing to go. Age is an unlikely culprit, he says, considering opera singers reach a prime ripeness in their 40s and Patti LaBelle (in her late 60s) is still hitting high notes.”

Arceneaux said after studying Houston’s voice throughout her career, he actually noticed her voice starting to strain with huskiness heard as far back as the early 90s.

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  • Mick Denis

    Houston sang with a heighten larynx …and she never had formal training. nor did she follow the doctor’s advise and complete her rehab or learn to correct her improper technique.