One of Whitney Houston's closest associates has finally broken her silence.
Robyn Crawford, who befriended Houston long before she became a superstar, was Houston's best friend, roommate, maid of honor and professional gatekeeper. But for many years, rumors dogged the two about the nature of their relationship, ones that Houston tried to tamp down in interviews throughout her career.
In "A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston," a new book, Crawford finally provides her version of events about her life with the singer.
Much of the book paints a portrait of a supremely talented artist who, as she became more and more successful, found herself in the center of an increasingly destructive maelstrom of competing personalities and interests.
The book follows "Whitney," the 2018 documentary about the late singer that delves into her childhood, drug habits, troubled marriage and family relationships. Crawford did not sit for an interview for the documentary, which was sanctioned by Houston's estate.
The documentary and "A Song For You" both detail Houston's substance abuse and trouble-filled marriage to Bobby Brown.
The extent of her romantic relationship with Crawford
Crawford and Houston - who was called "Nippy" by close friends and family - met as teenagers in New Jersey during their summer jobs, working as camp counselors. They became fast friends, and weeks later, shared their first kiss, Crawford writes. The two became physically intimate early into their relationship, and soon were inseparable.
"You could tell Whitney and I were tight," Crawford writes. "It wasn't all about our sleeping together. We could be naked. We could be bare and didn't have to hide. We could trust each other with our secrets, our feelings, and who we were. We were friends. We were lovers. We were everything to each other. We weren't falling in love. We just were. We had each other. We were one: That's how it felt."
As for their sexuality, Crawford writes that "we never talked labels, like lesbian or gay. We just lived our lives, and I hoped it could go on that way forever."
Several people in the documentary "Whitney" described Crawford as Houston's "safety net" and one of the few people who had the singer's best interests in mind. Houston's brother Gary disparaged Crawford, telling the documentarian that he didn't want his sister involved with her: "It was evil. It was wicked."
Once Houston signed her record deal with Arista, she told Crawford they had to end the physical aspect of their relationship "because it would make our journey even more difficult."
"By this time, we were feeling the pressure," Crawford writes. "People knew we were tight and were starting to ask about us. We were so connected we could communicate without talking ... The love I felt for Nippy was real and effortless, filled with so much feeling that when we talked about ending the physical part of our relationship, it didn't feel like I was losing that much."
Despite never becoming physically intimate again, rumours followed the duo for years.