[From Associated Press]
Singer Houston Faces Big Test of Career
By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY, AP Music Writer
Whitney Houston, who released her first album in four years this week, has succeeded in getting the public's attention but not for her music.
Instead, the buzz is about Houston's admissions of drug use, her erratic
behavior and her frail appearance.
At another point in the interview, Brown admitted taking marijuana because he's bipolar. And Houston acknowledged rebuffing her mother's attempt at an intervention.
The ABC special was a ratings success, landing approximately 21 million viewers. But Houston's thinness and defensiveness didn't impress critics.
The Washington Post dubbed the interview "Whitney's Weird Chat," while the Miami Herald said the singer appeared "strung out."
"She wasn't humble. ... she came off very flip," said Karu Daniels, who wrote about the interview in his weekly column on EURWeb, an urban entertainment Web site.
"The interview was crazy ... I blame the people around her."
Still, the interview may also have garnered some sympathy for the star.
"It's kind of clear that Whitney is in the middle of a major personal crisis, and I think women feel for her, because it's sad," said Michelle Santosuosso, program and music director for the Los Angeles urban adult contemporary station Hot 92 Jamz.
Santosuosso said the station recently presented Houston's latest single, "One of Those Days," to the listeners and asked them to "make it or break it."
She said the response was overwhelming. "Regardless of Whitney's personal drama, people are pulling for her," said Santosuosso. "She is a superstar and people love to hear her sing."
Reaction elsewhere hasn't been as strong. Considering the diva has had countless No. 1 hits, response to her new material has been unspectacular. The first single, "Whatchulookinat," in which she blames the media for trying to mess up her reputation, was critically panned and received scant airplay.
Her latest single debuted at No. 94 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and has been rising slowly.
Still, Houston's star power remains formidable, judging from the crowd that waited more than an hour to see her perform three songs at Lincoln Center on Sunday.
Ada Penabaz and Alicia Doble, both 26, traveled from Boston just to see the performance.
"She has a strong voice, and she seems to be pulling through her tough times now," said Doble. "She's survived these past 20 years."
NEWSFILE: 10 DECEMBER 2002
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