Whitney Houston documentary to dissect 'fairytale' life

Whitney Houston performing on stage in 2005. Her struggle with drugs is explored in the new documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me. Photo: David Corio

Whitney Houston performing on stage in 2005. Her struggle with drugs is explored in the new documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me. Photo: David Corio

Whitney Houston struggled with drugs long before she met Bobby Brown, according to a new documentary exploring the singer's career and untimely death.

Whitney: Can I Be Me, the latest offering from investigative documentarians Nick Broomfield and Rudi Dolezal, shatters the widely-held belief that the most-awarded female artist of all time was tainted by R&B's "bad boy".

Houston died in February 2012 after she was found unconscious in a bathtub. A coroner later confirmed cocaine use contributed to the 48-year-old's death.

In the wake of Houston's death, ex-husband Bobby Brown was accused of contributing to the singer's death by fuelling her drug addiction.

The pair had a 14-year marriage that was, at times, tumultuous and involved drug-fuelled violence. Brown left Houston's 2012 memorial service before it even began, later claiming he was turned away by security.

However, Whitney: Can I Be Me features interviews with longtime friends who claim it was the singer's brothers who first introduced her to drugs and alcohol when she was still a teenager.

Dolezal told The New York Posthis film shatters the fairy tale surrounding "America's sweetheart".

"The idea that Whitney was a great girl until Bobby came along is simply not true," he said. "Whitney took drugs and smoked weed a long time before she could even spell 'Bobby Brown'."

Whitney Houston was born in 1963 and raised in New Jersey. Her mother was gospel singer Cissy Houston, while her godmother was the "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin.

She began performing in the 70s, before going on to win six Grammy Awards for hits such as I Wanna Dance with Somebody and I Will Always Love You.

The documentary has had a critically-acclaimed run in cinemas, with TheNew York Times calling it a "respectful behind-the-scenes portrait" Houston's struggles with fame and drugs before her death. The Gay Times, meanwhile, called it a "poignant look at the life of a legend".

Whitney: Can I be Me will be available on DVD, blu-ray and on-demand from September 4.

The story Whitney Houston documentary to dissect 'fairytale' life first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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