“It was a sanctuary,” Winans explains during a conversation in his publicist’s office. “Whitney knew that she could tell me anything, and it would stay right here.”
In Whitney (Worthy Publishing, $19.99), written with Timothy Willard and out Tuesday, Winans, 49, keeps his end of the bargain. While insisting that he never saw Houston use drugs, he acknowledges that her substance abuse was a concern.
“I talk about her use of cigarettes,” Winans says. “I bothered her about that, and she got mad. But Whitney and I talked about drugs and sex and everything. And some things she said will remain in that vault.”
Whitney is nonetheless full of revealing detail. Winans portrays the troubled diva, who died Feb. 11, as earthy, effervescent, vulnerable and fiercely protective of friends and family.
“There were 10 siblings in my family, and Whitney had relationships with all of us. At her funeral, my mom said, ‘It’s like I’m losing a daughter today.’ ”
Winans describes how Houston’s late-night chats would cost him sleep, and her penchant for talking in theaters drove him to distraction. (He writes of a scuffle Houston once had with a moviegoer who told her to shut up.) More soberly, he recalls how industry demands and tabloid coverage weighed on his friend. And he defends her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, while conceding he hadn’t thought the controversial R&B star would make an ideal spouse — and told Houston so before they married.
“He did the best he can,” he says of Brown. “He wasn’t to blame for every decision Whitney made. They loved each other, though the world couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t, and I was on both their sides.”
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