As news of Whitney Houston's death rapidly spread around the globe, Twitter, the Internet and our inboxes filled with tributes, and Billboard.biz has spoken with dozens of people at many pre-Grammy events. Any attempt at a definitive list of touching tributes is hopeless, but here's a quick collection of what we've seen or gotten ourselves, followed by a list of initial tweets in the hours after news of Houston's death broke.
If you knew or worked with Whitney, please share your thoughts and remembrances in the comments, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Motown founder Barry Gordy: "Whitney Houston was not only an amazing artist but also a beautiful person. She was so smart and her knowledge and appreciation for the musical art form was remarkable. I loved her very much. My heart goes out to her family, and her great friend, Clive Davis, those who knew her well and worked closely with her, and the world for losing such an incredible artist."
Beyonce: "The loss of Whitney Houston is painful. I remember meeting Whitney for the first time when I was 15. She was the ultimate legend. The ultimate woman. Not only was she confident, poised, stunningly beautiful and intelligent, but she was sincere and kind. She took the time to make everyone feel like they were very important to her. I, like every singer, always wanted to be just like her. Her voice was perfect. Strong but soothing. Soulful and classic. Her vibrato, her cadence, her control. So many of my life's memories are attached to a Whitney Houston song. She is our queen and she opened doors and provided a blueprint for all of us. God bless her. "
Ne-Yo to Billboard.biz at his annual Grammy Midnight Brunch: "The wonderful thing about Whitney Houston was she was the kind of person that you could not keep down. She went through bumps and bruises in her career, in her life, whatever the case may be. That's human, everybody goes through it, but it's not about the fall -- it's about the get back up. That's what Whitney Houston was about, the get-back-up. So even in this situation she wouldn't want us to be sad right now, she would want us to celebrate the great thing that her life was as well, as opposed to mourning her death."
Mervyn Warren, music producer and music supervisor on "The Preacher's Wife" and producer "One Wish: The Holiday Album": "Whitney was always a pleasure and always jovial, cracking jokes -- there was a lot of laughter in the air, to use a cliche (during 'Preacher's Wife'). When it was time to get down to business that voice would come at me -- I'd be sitting in the control room with speakers in my face and I would be floored. I was so thrilled to experience that gift. When I produced most of her Christmas album eight years back, she was struggling, and yet she was able to still do good work. She worked hard on that album. She was living in Atlanta and I had to make 13 trips in 13 weeks to produce her."
Dru Bet of Grammy-nominated producers The Runners: "I just heard on the way over here when [partner] Mayne and I were riding over here [to Grammy Special Merit Awards]. We totally grew up on her like everybody else. It blew us away. I mean, we almost didn't come for a minute because we were so just appalled. It was just crazy. I can't believe. It's a shame, you know? She's so talented. One of the best voices of our generation."
Mars of 1500 or Nothin' / Smash Factory: "It's a tough time right now. I can't even really wrap my head around the situation, 'cause I just seen her the other night. Faith Evans is a real good friend of mine. We've been working together. I actually went to an event, to Kelly Price's event, the other night, with Faith to support Kelly Price, Whitney Houston and people that have paved the way for R&B. I seen her there, I seen Ray J, I seen Brandy, I seen everybody that was there. It was just so tragic. They're saying that she passed that same night. All I can say is, man, my prayers go up to her and her family and God bless her spirit and her soul."
Legendary soul hitmakers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff: "Whitney Houston was an unbelievable talent and one of the greatest voices of all time. Her passing is a tremendous shock and a terrible shame. She had a rough life and was under so much pressure as an artist, because she meant so much to the music community. She was one of the most admired singers ever, who was loved by everybody. We're praying for her family. … "[In the 1960s] whenever [Whitney's mother, singer] Cissy couldn't find a baby sitter, she'd bring Whitney to our studio in Philly. Cissy always used to talk about her daughter when we were recording with her, and what a great talent she was going to be."
Randy Phillips, AEG Live: "Twenty years ago Ms. Houston gave me the opening slot on her tour to EYC, a young group signed to my label, for which I will always be grateful to her. When you peeled away the public persona, you found an insanely talented angel. I cried like a baby when I heard about her tragic and too premature passing."
Red One, producer/songwriter: "She was just a legend. There are so many good songs, but "I Want To Dance With Somebody" stands out. I met her briefly. She inspired me a lot."
Sheila E.: "She came to my last two performances. I gave her my sticks. She's an incredible singer. She was ahead of her time. That's why Clive wanted to have her at his label at the time and really wanted to take care of her because she's an incredible singer. Everyone knows that. All her songs are special to me."
India.Arie, singer/songwriter/producer: "I keep thinking when I first came out she really liked my music. I thought it was cool that she knew who I was. So when I was doing my second album, I had this song "Headed In The Right Direction," that she wanted to record. I thought it was so cool. So when I got nominated for all these Grammys during the first year she sent me flowers with a card that said, "You're headed in the right direction." When I went to the Grammys I had this little purse and I had a card in it. I just keep thinking about her and how nice she was to me. Some people are just great. They are born to be great. Today I just keep thinking about 'Where Do Broken Hearts Go.' "
Aretha Franklin: "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."
Quincy Jones: "I am absolutely heartbroken at the news of Whitney's passing. Ashford & Simpson first made me aware of Whitney when she was just 16, and 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."
Barrie Marshall of Marshall Arts, who promoted Houston shows in the UK: "We had the great privilege of working with Whitney from the very beginning. When she arrived in London to begin that first tour with us in 1986 - it was a revelation. She was a very beautiful young woman, with THE most amazing voice. She quite simply stunned everyone who heard her. [Saturday was] an incredibly sad day. There is an enormous sense of loss. Whitney has left an indelible mark on the music world and all those people to whom she gave so much joy. We are proud that we knew her and worked with her in our small way through so many milestones during the past 25 years, and indeed to be a part of her team on the road. Our hearts go out to her 'treasure' - Bobbi Kristina, to Cissy and all her family, whose love, we know has been so important to her, and their support, a major part of her life's journey. Whitney may be lost to us, but we will all remember the unique contribution she made to so many of our lives. Her voice and her spirit will live on. Her music will continue to inspire and move generations to come."
Neil Portnow, president of National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences:
"It really begins on a personal note because she's a friend. I started working for Clive and I started working on Whitney's project here in Los Angeles, so I've known her since she was signed. When she was 19 we put the record out. So it's a personal and devastating moment for me. But beyond that, Whitney is so iconic that there will not be another voice like hers. There will not be another personality like hers. But she's inspired so many and I think that's what she would want to be remembered for, for her ability to inspire and bring hope and joy. When Whitney Houston came on the scene there was no one like her. She was a phenomenon. It was a juggernaut. It was bigger than life because she had one of the biggest instruments on the planet ever and because she had the guidance of one of the great record mavens of all time, Clive. She touched the hearts of tens of millions around the world. For me, from my vantage point, it's the body of work that's so staggering. What she delivered to the planet is just beyond belief."
Richard Palmese, former VP of promotion at RCA Music Group: "My memories of Whitney are especially connected to the love she shared with Clive Davis. They were a team and together they uplifted the spirits of people everywhere. We all adored Whitney knowing that God sent us a special gift in her person. I guess God missed her as much as we now do. It's our turn to always love you, Whitney."
NARM President Jim Donio: "The news of Whitney's death has sent shock waves around the world. She was, without question, one of the most brilliant and unforgettable singers the music industry has known or will ever know. When Clive Davis, former head of Arista Records, presented Whitney to the industry at the NARM Convention in 1986, the reaction was instantaneous and irrepressible. Everyone in that audience knew they were witnessing the beginnings of a career that would reach amazing heights of greatness, and they were not disappointed. Whitney went on to dazzle music fans with her singular vocal ability, her beauty and her grace. Two years ago, I had the good fortune of being invited to a listening party for her comeback album 'I Look To You' and it was an evening I will always remember. She may have left us today, but that voice we all came to adore will never be silenced. NARM extends its deepest condolences to Whitney's family and friends."
Esperanza Spalding, last year's Best New Artist Grammy winner: "Oprah Winfrey said she was a national treasure. That's probably the most concise way to say what she represents to our culture, musically and as a human being. I got to see her perform at the Forum, but she just ran on stage and sat in during Chaka Khan's set and there was such love and warmth between Whitney and Chaka. It was really inspiring."
Wiz Khalifa: "Whitney got into the game at a young age when people didn't really believe in somebody like her or really didn't understand what she was bringing to the game, but she turned all that around and became the one and only and that speaks for itself. Anybody who aspires to do music or live their dreams should look up to Whitney. I think she's a real person. She wasn't made up and she wasn't afraid to be herself and have her problems and her glory in front of everybody. You see a bright side, you see the bad side."
Ciara: "I think we should celebrate how much Whitney has impacted music and real songs. She gave us real records, she gave us songs of substance. She did so with meaning, heart, passion and soul. All that will definitely be left behind with us and I think it's important that that continues to live on. I was getting ready for tonight when I heard about Whitney. I was wondering if it was real. We thought it was a joke. She's only 48 years old. "I Want To Run To You" is one of my favorite songs, "I Will Always Love You" is too and "I Want To Dance With Somebody" is amazing."
Sony Music statement: "Whitney Houston was an icon and a once-in-a-lifetime talent who inspired a generation of singers and brought joy to millions of fans around the world. She had a voice of unmatched beauty and power that changed music forever, and she leaves behind an indelible legacy of timeless songs that will never be forgotten. She also was an important member of the Sony Music family who spent her storied recording career with Arista Records. She will be greatly missed. Our deepest condolences go out to her daughter and her entire family."
Russell Simmons @UncleRUSH
R.I.P. Whitney Houston, really can't believe this bit.ly/yNudvn
@atrak: Very sad for Whitney. Much love to her family and friends. A true legend.
@BrunoMars: I hate this feeling
@Diane_Warren: There are no words
Jermaine Dupri @Mr_Dupri
I Dedicate my set tonight to Whitney,I will always love you
Cory Booker @CoryBooker
RIP Whitney Houston, a Legend and great American artist. And always, one of Newark's and New Jersey's treasured daughters.
regina spektor @respektor
How very sad that Whitney Houston passed away today.... What a beautiful magical voice......
Suzanne Vega @suzyv
I am shocked to hear the news about Whitney Houston. Both of our first albums came out the same year. In my prayers tonight. Suzanne Vega
]Kevin Liles @KevinLiles1
RIP Whitney Houston...my prayers to the Houston Family...I will always remember Family First
nothing i could write on twitter could possibly express what Whitney Houston means to me personally and professionally. nothing. speechless.
Russell Simmons @UncleRUSH
Whitney Houston was one of the greatest singers this world has ever heard bit.ly/zntK8r
Rob Stone @iamRobStone
Very sad. Worked w Whitney when I was at Arista. Very very sad for her kids.
LA Reid @LA_Reid
I am completely devastated by the loss of the greatest voice of all time! R.I.P. Whitney Houston. I will always love you!
Steve Rifkind @steverifkind
I Can't believe this. RIP Whitney
Steve Rifkind @steverifkind
I Can't believe this. RIP Whitney
12m Missy Elliott @MissyElliott
Thank u 4 the times we worked 2gether your Voice touched the World! N this rough time I pray for The Houston Family...
17m RAEKWON @Raekwon
Talib Kweli Greene @TalibKweli
RIP Whitney Houston. I remember the first time I heard your voice on the radio like yesterday. You will truly be missed........
J. Escobedo Shepherd @jawnita
Oh my god. Feel like I just got punched in the gut. #whitney
Christina Aguilera @TheRealXtina
We have lost another legend. Love and prayers to Whitney's family. She will be missed.
You are the reason I fell in love with singing. My heart is broken.
Toni Braxton @tonibraxton
She's paved the way for every single singer in the music industry. Iconic, legendary, innovating, amazing, humble...1 the best in the world
19m Karεn CiÃ'Âµil @KarenCivil
Wow utter disbelief... RIP Whitney
RIP whitney houston "THE VOICE"
Scooter Braun @scooterbraun
everyone is hitting me. blown away. She was my favorite voice of ALL TIME! We will miss u Whitney Houston. Thank u for the gift of music
Keri Hilson @KeriHilson
Watching the news now...it's true. R.I.P. Whitney Houston. Ugh I hate that I'm even typing this...I'm shocked. She was my hero growing up.
24m Nicki Minaj @NICKIMINAJ
Jesus Christ, not Whitney Houston. Greatest of all time.
R.I.P WHITNEY HOUSTON. ONE OF THE PUREST SOULS I'VE EVER MET IN MY LIFE.
Whitney Houston!!! OMG!! I really can't believe this.. This is one of the saddest days ever..
DJ DRAMA @DJDRAMA
28m Mariah Carey @MariahCarey Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth.
Retweeted by Justin
Questo of The Roots @questlove Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
oh my god....stop it please .....enough already
Retweeted by WNYC Soundcheck
Bun B @BunBTrillOG Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
Whitney Houston is dead....wow. RIP
melaniefiona @melaniefiona Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
Missy Elliott @MissyElliott Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
This is such a sad moment! I'm speechless I have no words of what I'm feeling right now. Rest in Peace Whitney Houstan I love u.
solange knowles @solangeknowles
Lenny Kravitz @LennyKravitz
Whitney. Rest in peace. There will never be another like you. Lenny
John Legend @johnlegend
RIP Whitney. So sad