found dead at 48
Tragic ... Whitney Houston
GRAMMY Award-winning singer and actress Whitney Houston has died at the age of 48.
The Bodyguard star's publicist made the announcement in the early hours of this morning.
The cause of her death is still unclear.
Police have confirmed the star was found on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angels.
US website TMZ has reported that Whitney and a group of friends "partied heavily" in the hotel bar last night.
Further unconfirmed reports claim the body of the Saving All My Love for You singer was found in her hotel bath by a member of her entourage.
The tragic news comes just hours before she was due to perform at a pre-Grammy party held by her mentor and friend, record producer Clive Davis.
The party is reported to be going ahead as planned.
A video has emerged of what is believed to be Whitney's final performance, apparently showing the star as she sang Yes Jesus Loves Me at another pre-Grammys party, held at the Tru Hollywood club.
Whitney's ex-husband Bobby Brown was reported to be "in and out of crying fits" after hearing the news.
Bobby, 43, broke down in tears before taking to the stage with his band New Edition last night, a US website reported.
The emotional singer shouted "I love you Whitney" and blew kisses to the sky during the concert, in Mississippi, US.
Whitney won a Grammy for her soundtrack to 1992 film The Bodyguard which featured record-breaking single I Will Always Love You.
Her version of the Dolly Parton classic became one of the best-selling singles in music history.
The superstar singer sold over 170 milllion albums, singles, and videos worldwide in her lifetime. Her impressive award collection includes two Emmys, six Grammys, 30 Billboard Music Awards and 22 American Music gongs.
She married fellow music star Bobby in 1992 and soon fell pregnant with their first and only child together, Bobbi Kristina.
The pair were well known for their turbulent marriage and divorced in 2007 amid reports of drug use.
In 2009 Whitney admitted to TV's Oprah Winfrey that she used drugs with former husband Bobby Brown, who she said "laced marijuana with rock cocaine."
She said that at one point, doing drugs for her "was an everyday thing," adding: "I wasn't happy by that point in time. I was losing myself."
In April 2010, hundreds of fans walked out of Whitney's gig at London's O2 complaining her performance was littered with off-key notes.
The star, who had been diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection earlier that month, later laid some of the blame on the air-conditioning inside the venue.
Recent reports had suggested that the star was on the brink of bankruptcy.
Organisers of tonight's Grammy Awards have announced that US singer Jennifer Hudson will perform a "respectful musical tribute" at the ceremony.
Close friend Mariah Carey led tributes to the star, saying: "Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston.
"She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth."
Fellow singer Christina Aguilera wrote on her Twitter: "We have lost another legend. Love and prayers to Whitney's family. She will be missed."
X Factor chief Simon Cowell said of the death: "There's always moments in your life that are horrible things to remember - the day John Lennon died, or Elvis Presley, or recently Michael Jackson, or Amy Winehouse - and now Whitney.
"It's just really, really, really horrible."
And legendary music producer Quincy Jones said: "I am absolutely heartbroken at the news of Whitney's passing... I always regretted not having had the opportunity to work with her. She was a true original and a talent beyond compare. I will miss her terribly."
Mitch Winehouse, whose daughter Amy, died of alcohol poisoning last October, also paid tribute: "We are absolutely devastated. Rest in peace Whitney.
"Amy, Etta, Whitney. Their music will NEVER die. What a great girl group in heaven."
Whitney's godmother, soul legend Aretha Franklin, told of her shock at the news, saying: "I just can't talk about it now.
It's so stunning and unbelievable. I couldn't believe what I was reading coming across the TV screen.
"My heart goes out to Cissy, her daughter Bobbi Kris, her family and Bobby."
And Firework singer Katy Perry said: "So devastating. We will always love you Whitney, R.I.P."
Jermaine Jackson, whose megastar brother Michael died in 2009, told of his sadness for Whitney's mother Cissy Houston, saying: "I can imagine what she's going through, because we've been through it with my mother.
"It's very tough to lose a child, and for you to outlive your child."
Teen sensation Justin Bieber tweeted: "Just heard the news. so crazy. One of the GREATEST VOICES EVER just passed. RIP Whitney Houston. My prayers go out to her friends and family."
Whitney's careerAugust 9, 1963 - A star is born.
1978 - Whitney sings backing vocals on Chaka Khan's hit single I'm Every Woman.
1983 - Whitney signs record deal with Arista.
1985 - Releases debut album Whitney Houston.
1986 - Wins first of a total 6 Grammy Awards
1987 - Releases second album, Whitney. She becomes first artist to enter the albums chart at number one in both the US and UK.
1988 - Whitney performs at Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday.
1992 - Meets and marries Bobby Brown and falls pregnant with daughter Bobbi Kristina.
1992 - Acting debut in The Bodyguard. I Will Always Love You becomes one of the best-selling singles of all time.
1993 - Embarks on hugely successful The Bodyguard World Tour.
1994 to 1998 - Singer concentrates on movie career.
January 2000 - Whitney and Bobby are caught in possession of marijuana at Hawaii airport. Charges are later dropped.
2000 - Whitney fails to show up at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame event.
2001 - Signs biggest record deal in history worth $100million.
2001 - Star's frail frame during appearance at Michael Jackson's 30th Anniversary Special spurs drug rumours.
2006 - Singer files for divorce from Bobbi.
September 2009 - Whitney appears on the Oprah Winfrey show and admits to drug-taking past with ex-husband.
2010 - Whitney's Nothing But Love tour receives poor reviews.
February 11, 2012 - Whitney dies in Beverly Hills hotel.