Whitney Houston Dead: Chicagoans Join Jennifer Hudson In Paying Tribute (VIDEO)
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The sudden death of 48-year-old singer and actress Whitney Houston over the weekend has upset many fans of the superstar, including many Chicagoans who were inspired by her otherworldly voice.
Houston was pronounced dead Saturday afternoon at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. The cause of her death has not yet been disclosed -- though an autopsy was performed Sunday, its results will not be known for several weeks.
In the eleventh hour, Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson was tasked with paying tribute to Houston by singing "I Will Always Love You," the Dolly Parton song Houston popularized on the soundtrack of the 1992 film "The Bodyguard," during the Grammy Awards Sunday evening. That performance came off without a hitch, despite reports that Hudson was in tears during rehearsals of the ballad earlier that day.
Radio legend Herb Kent remembered Houston during his Sunday program on Chicago's V103 FM. As ABC Chicago reports, Kent described her as "a marvelous singer. ... She was phenomenal."
Effie Rolfe, another DJ at the station, invited listeners to call in with their comments about the deceased star, CBS Chicago reports.
"One listener called this morning and said even when she sang the Star Spangled Banner; she said 'I felt like my soul was on fire,'" Rolfe explained.
Oprah Winfrey was one of several prominent media figures with Chicago ties who also weighed in on Houston's death via Twitter.
"To me Whitney was THE VOICE," Winfrey tweeted. "We got to hear a part of God every time she sang. Heart is heavy, spirit grateful for the GIFT of her."
A member of the Soul Children of Chicago Choir recalled to NBC Chicago her experience of once singing backup for Houston during a 1998 appearance on Winfrey's show. As an aspiring vocalist, Houston was her idol.
Sherri Shepherd stated, via Twitter, "Whitney I hope you found the peace in Heaven that you could never seem to find down here."
Renowned film critic Roger Ebert noted, "For addicts, using has long, long since ceased being any form of pleasure. It's a sentence. My heart goes out to its captives."
WATCH Hudson's emotional tribute to Houston at Sunday's Grammys: