Whitney Not At Funeral Of Lee Warrick...
Whitney Houston Skips Matriarch's
Whitney Houston comes from a pretty talented gene pool, but for some reason
she missed the funeral yesterday of her aunt, who was considered the
matriarch and icon of the family.
Whitney was noticeably absent from the service for Lee Warrick, beloved
mother of both superstar Dionne Warwick and her sister, the phenomenal
singer Dee Dee Warwick (who did the original version of "You're No Good"
long before either Betty Everett or Linda Ronstadt).
Lee — whose full name was Arthur Lee Drinkard Warrick — passed away last
week, two months shy of her 85th birthday.
The Drinkard family is like a mini-R&B dynasty, consisting not only of
Dionne, Dee Dee and Whitney, but also Whitney's mother, Cissy Houston, and
Dionne's sons Damon Elliott — a hot, young record producer who's worked with
Beyoncé, Mya, Pink and Jessica Simpson — and David Elliott, who wrote Luther
Vandross' "Here and Now" and played Sam Cooke in the movie "Ali."
A scholarship at the Juilliard School of Music was created in Mrs. Warrick's
name several years ago. Without her influence, there would have been a lot
less great music in the world.
Nevertheless, Whitney was a no-show at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark,
N.J., where her mother has been a deacon.
Whitney similarly missed her own father's funeral a couple of years ago. And
two weeks ago, Whitney also stayed away from Vandross' funeral at Riverside
Church in New York.
Cissy Houston was spine-tingling as she led a gospel choir at Vandross'
funeral. But Whitney's absence that day did not go down too well,
considering Vandross was one of the producer-writers who helped establish
Lee Warrick was Cissy Houston's eldest sister and raised her when their
mother died. Lee was also the leader of the family gospel group, called the
Drinkards, and was an important member of New Hope Church since 1955.
Whitney may not have had made it, but her brothers Gary and Michael, along
with the Elliotts, served as pallbearers. Plenty of other singers paid their
respects to Lee Warrick as well, including Chuck Jackson and members of the
I am told Whitney may be keeping her distance from Cissy since the famed
gospel and R&B star forced her daughter into rehab earlier this year.
The word is that it was Cissy who finally took a stand about Whitney's
self-confessed drug habit. The result was the removal of Whitney and hubby
Bobby Brown's daughter, Bobbi Kristina, from the couple's custody until
Whitney sought serious help.
More recently, Whitney's been seen in Bobby Brown's, shall we say, eccentric
and not particularly likeable reality TV show.
It hasn't been an easy month for Dionne, whom I just spoke with at Vandross'
funeral. Nevertheless, next Tuesday she's due to perform at BB King's in New
York, a rare show indeed, and one that is highly anticipated.
I have no doubt that Dionne will dedicate the show to her mother's sterling
NEWSFILE: 23 JULY 2004