'Our Friendship, and her Legacy' — Robyn Crawford Stands Up for Whitney Houston

by Steve Duffy

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday November 26, 2020

Robyn Crawford
Robyn Crawford  (Source:Penguin/Random House)

"I found comfort in my silence," author Robyn Crawford told The Guardian recently. She was speaking about "A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston," her memoir of her relationship with the late superstar, which the Guardian calls "tender, moving and painful to read, the history of a friendship that is also a love story."

Speculation of that love story was long part of Whitney lore, but it wasn't until late last year — seven years after Houston's death — that Crawford broke her long silence seven years after her death with her book's publication. "I'd come to the point where I felt the need to stand up for our friendship. And I felt an urgency to stand up and share the woman behind the incredible talent," she told PEOPLE last November.

A pair of documentaries a few year ago confirmed the speculation that Houston had a romantic relationship with Crawford. With this book , the New York Times writes, she "confirms, for the first time publicly, her romantic history with Houston, which began when they were teenagers and lasted a short period of time, ending around the time Houston signed her first record contract at age 19. 'We were friends. We were lovers. We were everything to each other,' Crawford says, her voice level, unbothered, not dishy at all. 'We weren't falling in love. We just were.'"

Why the sexual relationship was so short-lived came with Houston's "Star Is Born" moment when record executives saw her relationship with Crawford as a hindrance. "In an extraordinary scene in the book, Houston, the Guardian writes, "went to Crawford's house, handed her a Bible and told her they had to quit having sex, 'because it would make our journey even more difficult'. She also told Crawford that, [if they found out — because her career was taking off — they'd use it against us.'"

She stayed on and became Houston's emotional cushion for 20 years. With threats of Houston's father threatening to hire a thug to break her kneecaps, the friendship was not without drama; as well as personal professional betrayal right out of "Dreamgirls." Crawford left Houston's orbit in 2000 rebuilt her life and "is now happily married with two adopted children. She has worked as a journalist, interviewing the likes of Jessica Biel and Kristen Bell, and is currently a fitness trainer," .

Whitney Houston and Robyn Crawford

EDGE spokes to Crawford recently about Houston, silence, why she has no regrets, and why the superstar is not on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

EDGE: Would Whitney want you speaking out on your special bond and friendship?

Robyn Crawford: I thought about that. Knowing Whitney like I do, I was 100% confident that she would. No one would leave her alone. Everyone around her knew something. The stuff that I was hearing really began to bother me. I know that world; I lived it. I knew her very well. I took part in every recording, I was on the road with her, and I was on the movie sets with her. When she wasn't here anymore, people began to talk and to speculate and even make things up. I didn't see anything that I wrote in my book that I felt shameful about. Whitney has a huge spirit. She kind of hovers around. I don't believe in my heart that she would have been disappointed at all in me with sharing the life that we partnered with and experienced together.

EDGE: How did the two of you meet?
b>Robyn Crawford: We meet at the Community Development Center in East Orange, NJ. The center took care of the children for the parents who were working. We both worked with the children who were ages 6 — 11. We become immediate friends and the rest is history.

EDGE: To break your silence must have been truly difficult. How did you deal with all the emotions of revisiting your 20 years together?

Robyn Crawford: That's funny! You should probably interview my wife for this answer. It is funny when someone is looking at you while you are going through whatever. It was a rollercoaster. I had to start with my family, because I am a person too. I have feelings. I tried my best to avoid any kind of attention. I enjoy my life and I enjoy my children. I stand silent until I felt the urge that I needed to stand up and protect myself, Whitney, our friendship, and her legacy. One of the struggles I did have was people in the music business who played an important role like mine you are required to make sure your boss feels secure. I thought about them and how would they feel when I told my story. There was a lot that I fought with internally, but I feel like I did the right thing. My family really supported and lifted me up.

Robyn Crawford and Whitney Houston.

EDGE: Was it difficult to continue the friendship after Whitney broke off the physical part of the relationship? Why did you continue to stay around?

Robyn Crawford: You're friends first. For me, any closeness that you have, you want to really know the person. When we stopped it, we had a plan. The physical part of things evolved. It felt like part of the plan. We didn't talk labels. It felt like it was just part of us. We were aware and we would hear things. If anything was going to get in the way of accomplishing her dreams that she talked so much about.

EDGE: Did you fear any type of retaliation from Whitney's family or estate?

Robyn Crawford: No, because I didn't write the book to get back at people or to hurt anyone. I just wanted to tell my story. My life isn't in 336 pages. Believe me, there is a lot more to me.

EDGE: Do you have any regrets? Would you change anything?

Robyn Crawford: I don't have any regrets. As I was writing this, there were things that I would remember and they would give me moments of pause. As an example, when I was resigning. There was one mistake that I made. I allowed someone to tell me that Whitney said to hand in my resignation. I had been waiting to talk to her for days. When I should have just picked up the phone and called her because they may have changed the outcome. She did later call me, and that is not someone who wants you to go. Not sure if that is a regret, but it is something that I should have had more control over.

Whitney Houston. (Associated Press)

EDGE: In writing this what was your goal for the reader?

Robyn Crawford: My goal is for people to understand that she was a real person. She was an artist who was a really hard worker. She was a master at it. She did all the meet and greets; she shook all the hands. She showed up.

EDGE: Did writing "A Song for You" give you closure?

Robyn Crawford: I feel like I was able to move on without interruptions or having someone putting a mic in my face asking for my opinion on her. I hope people won't ask me questions anymore like "Was Whitney gay?" I think that I answered in the book that she wasn't. Did she love a woman? Yes. And I love her. Whitney also made it clear that was not the road she wanted for herself. I respect her for that. What we shared, we both felt it.

EDGE: What is your favorite memory of Whitney?

Robyn Crawford: Oh man! I have a lot of those. She had a wonderful sense of humor and she spoke really fast. When she got going, you couldn't stop her. Whitney loved to sit around and just talk. They way she talked and laugh when she got going was just a sight to see. You couldn't out talk her. I really miss the laughter and the fun part of Whitney.

The one industry memory I have of her is that she couldn't believe you had to pay to get your name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was not going to pay to have people walk on her name. She took on singing and fame as a duty of hers and she didn't want to cheapen it.

For more on "A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston" by Robyn Crawford, visit the book's website.

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