…And we will always love you, Whitney

The news of Whitney Houston’s death Saturday stunned the music industry and has left throngs of fans around the world shocked and deeply saddened.

With a voice described as “the gold-standard,” Houston wowed audiences worldwide with her talent and won the hearts of fans with her vibrant exuberance on and off stage.

Whitney catapulted to fame in 1985 with her debut album, “Whitney Houston,” which launched mega hits “Saving All My Love for You,” and “The Greatest Love of All.” But her emotional and mesmerizing rendition of “The National Anthem” at the 1991 Super Bowl, along with the sound track from her 1992 film, “The Body Guard” propelled her to the echelon of pop-icon.

Unsurpassed talent, combined with natural beauty, Houston enthralled audiences throughout the 1980s and 1990s with her powerful stage performances and captivating movie rolls. Her hit, “I Will Always Love You,” won her the Grammy for Record of the Year in 1994 and solidified her as a force few could ever hope to rival.

Houston’s 1998 album, “My Love Is Your Love” spawned the hit “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay,” which won her the Grammy for best female R&B artist.

Described by many in the music industry as possessing a God-given talent and unequaled range, Houston set the bar for female singers that followed. Simon Cowell of “The X Factor” said Saturday that bar was sometimes too high for contestants who chose to sing a Houston song.

Houston’s awards include six Grammy’s and 22 American Music Awards for hits such as “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “You Give Good Love.”

Throughout her career, reports of Houston’s battle with drug and alcohol abuse eclipsed her musical achievements. In 2009, Houston hoped to stage a comeback with the ballad “I Look To You,” a compelling, personal plea for strength in the face of tremendous adversity. Describing herself as “lost without a cause,” Houston bares her soul and hints that defeat may be near if she loses sight of her source of her strength. In her strength, she hears a song.

Sadly, the song has ended and her time ran out before she found that strength she so desperately needed.

Houston’s contributions to music are innumerable. These contributions, together her talent and endearing love of performing will stand as a tribute to a legacy that is sure to endure for generations to come.