Music industry reflects on Houston's golden voice

February 13, 2012 4:46:29 PM PST
Police in Beverly Hills, California, say Whitney Houston's death is a coroner's case now, not a criminal investigation. Results of toxicology testing may not be available for weeks.

In the meantime, Houston's fans continue mourning her death. But they are also celebrating the life of the singer with the golden voice.

As the shock of sadness lifts, greats in the music industry reflect on the significance of Whitney Houston.

"Absolute beauty, Whitney had one of those extra, extra, extra special gifts," said Smokey Robinson, Whitney's longtime friend. "She just had that voice that soared."

"It was such a stunning impact to hear this young girl breathe such fire, such life into this song, I mean, it sent the proverbial tingles up my spine," said Clive Davis, Whitney's lifelong mentor.

"She was just kind of chosen to have a voice that would speak to people," said singer Alicia Keys. " And it has shown me what it feels like to dream."

Years ago, music engineer Danny Leake was invited to a listening party hosted by Clive Davis in Chicago to introduce a young Whitney Houston to people in the music industry.

"I just knew she was going places," Leake told ABC7. "I didn't know how far she was going to go."

Leake also toured with Houston's ex-husband, Bobby Brown. Leake recalls a kind woman who was pregnant during the tour and a unique talent who would change the industry.

"Unbelievable, she had an unbelievable instrument. She didn't need 15 go-go boys to get a point across on a tune," he said.

Leake says the legend of Houston's recording of "I Will Always Love You" was that she did it in one take -- and that rough cut was the track that sold millions. "She did it one time, she didn't do it verse by verse. She didn't do it line by line. There was no auto tune or trying to fix the vocal. It was just bang. Who does that now? Nobody."

"When she came on the scene, it's like wow so refreshing because her voice was so powerful and souful and people could relate to the message she gave," said Effie Rolfe, radio personality and assistant program director, Inspiration 1390 AM

Rolfe was busy talking calls on her radio show Sunday morning on V-103. She saw the impact Houston had on the industry and those who came after her.

"She's in the lines and ranks of Lena Horn and Dianna Ross, and she paved the way for the Jennifer Hudsons," Rolfe said.