Whitney Houston’s closest confidante Robyn Crawford is laying bare the intimate details of the fierce friendship and secret romance they shared seven years after the singer’s sudden death at 48.
Crawford, 58, recounted the more than three decades she spent by Houston’s side in her forthcoming memoir A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston.
The book marks the first time Crawford has spoken publicly about her romantic relationship with Houston when they were teenagers in the early 1980s.
‘I’d come to the point where I felt the need to stand up for our friendship,’ Crawford wrote in an excerpt released in this week’s issue of People. ‘And I felt an urgency to stand up and share the woman behind the incredible talent.’
Whitney Houston’s best friend Robyn Crawford opened up about the secret romance she shared with the singer when they were teenagers in the early 1980s in her new memoir
Crawford, 58, was one of Houston’s closest confidantes and most loyal protectors for more than three decades, from when they met at a New Jersey summer camp in 1980 until the singer’s sudden death aged 48 in 2012. The pair are seen together in an undated photo
Crawford was 19 years old when she met Houston, then almost 17, while they were working as counselors at a summer camp in East Orange, New Jersey, in 1980.
At the time Crawford promised her new best friend: ‘I’m going to look out for you.’
She kept that promise as Houston shot to global fame over the following two decades.
Crawford opened up about her relationship with Houston in her forthcoming memoir A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston
However, their relationship shifted from romantic to platonic after Houston got her big break when she signed with music legend Clive Davis.
Crawford said Houston ended the physical part of their relationship one day in 1982, giving her a blue Bible to soften the blow.
‘She said we shouldn’t be physical anymore because it would make our journey even more difficult,’ Crawford writes.
‘She said if people find out about us, they would use this against us, and back in the ’80s that’s how it felt.’
Crawford said Houston’s family also pressured her to end the relationship.
‘Whitney told me her mother’ – gospel singer Cissy Houston – ‘said it wasn’t natural for two women to be that close,’ she wrote. ‘But we were that close.’
Crawford said that after Houston announced she wanted to end their romance, she respected her wishes.
‘I kept it safe. I found comfort in my silence,’ she wrote.
Crawford and Houston’s romantic relationship became a platonic one around the time that the singer signed with music legend Clive Davis in 1983. In the years after that, the pair (above in 1988) maintained a friendship so close it fueled frenzied speculation about Houston’s sexuality
Crawford said that after Houston announced she wanted to end their romance, she respected her wishes. ‘I kept it safe. I found comfort in my silence,’ she wrote
Houston (left) and Crawford (right) are seen with the singer’s husband Bobby Brown and another woman at an undated event in New York City
The pair maintained a friendship so close it fueled years of speculation about Houston’s sexuality.
‘We never talked about labels, like lesbian or gay,’ Crawford explained.
‘We just lived our lives and I hoped it could go on that way forever. We wanted to be together, and that meant just us.’
She said the romantic connection was just one piece of her lasting bond with Houston.
‘Whitney knows I loved her and I know she loved me,’ Crawford wrote.
‘We really meant everything to each other. We vowed to stand by each other.’
In the years after Crawford and Houston ended their tryst, the singer was romantically linked with actor Eddie Murphy and football star Randall Cunningham.
She went on to marry singer Bobby Brown in 1992, with Crawford by her side as her maid of honor, and they welcomed daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown the following year.
The couple’s tumultuous marriage frequently made headlines and they divorced in 2007.
Crawford was Houston’s maid of honor at her wedding to singer Bobby Brown in 1992
Houston and Brown’s tumultuous marriage frequently made headlines and they divorced in 2007. They are pictured together at the 1993 MTV Movie Awards in Culver City, California
Houston died aged 48 in 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. A coroner’s report indicated the singer, who struggled with substance abuse, had accidentally drowned in the bathtub due to a combination of heart disease and cocaine use.
Her daughter, Bobbi, died three years later after a drug-related incident in the bathroom of her home in Georgia.
Crawford now works as a fitness instructor and lives a quiet life with her partner, talent agency executive Lisa Hintlemann, and their two adopted children.
She said she hopes her memoir will show the world the Houston she knew and loved.
‘I wanted to lift her legacy, give her respect and share the story of who she was before the fame, and in that, to embrace our friendship,’ she said.
Crawford now works as a fitness instructor and lives a quiet life with her partner, talent agency executive Lisa Hintlemann (above together in 2003), and their two adopted children
Houston and Crawford’s rumored romance was depicted in the 2015 Lifetime original movie Whitney.
Asked about the rumors at the time, director Angela Bassett said: ‘I can’t tell you.
‘There always has been [rumors] and they still persist and I don’t know. But, there was always the speculation, so my thing was, let it remain.’
She added: ‘But it’d be however the audience sees it. If they read into it, that’s what they read into [regarding] their life – two women who are close and love each other and support one another.’
Brown had mentioned his ex-wife’s affair with Crawford in his 2016 memoir: Every Little Step: My Story.
‘I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney’s life, Whitney would still be alive today,’ he told Us Weekly at the time, speculating that Crawford could have helped Houston through her drug dependence.
‘She didn’t have close friends with her anymore.’
Houston’s mother Cissy also spoke about the allegations during a 2013 interview with Oprah, saying she ‘absolutely’ would have had a problem with her daughter being gay.