AT Whitney Houston’s glitzy wedding to Bobby Brown in July 1992, it was not just her husband-to-be gazing into her eyes with longing.
The superstar singer’s maid-of-honour gave away her best friend while keeping a big secret — a lesbian fling between them.
In her explosive new memoir, Robyn Crawford reveals: “We were friends. We were lovers. We were everything to each other.”
Robyn’s sensational claims of a sexual relationship between her and Whitney have stunned fans, seven years after the legendary diva’s death.
For the first time, the fitness trainer, now 58, describes how they fell in love as teenagers and shared a bed for two years — until Whitney’s music career went stratospheric.
But they remained friends and Robyn said she still felt a “real and effortless” love for the icon.
Her new book, A Song For You: My Life With Whitney Houston, details how they met as youth workers at a summer camp in East Orange, New Jersey. She was 19 and Whitney 16.
She writes: “Her skin was peachy brown, and her eyes caught the misty light. She stopped me in my tracks.
“The summer of 1980 was shaping up to be some kind of wonderful.”
Robyn said Whitney was often in “jeans, T-shirts, button-downs and sneakers” rather than the “shimmering gowns” she would be pictured in later in life.
But other indulgences the pair tried in their teens were more familiar — such as cocaine, which Whitney told Robyn she first tried aged 14.
Robyn said: “Whitney would often say, ‘Cocaine can’t go where we’re going’. But we weren’t ready to give it up entirely yet.”
Gradually they fell in love, and their friendship developed into a physical relationship. Robyn said: “Whitney and I started spending as much time as we could together. A few weeks later, she invited me over.
“We talked and talked, and then all of a sudden, we were face-to-face. That first kiss was long and warm like honey. As we eased out of it, our eyes locked, my nerves shot up, and my heart beat furiously. Something was happening between us.”
They later spent the night together — in total secrecy. Robyn said: “At the apartment we took off our clothes and for the first time we touched each other.
“Caressing her and loving her felt like a dream. We didn’t share what happened that night with anyone.”
Soon after their first kiss, Robyn describes hearing Whitney — nicknamed “Nippy” by her family — sing at her local Baptist church. She soon realised that Whitney Elizabeth Houston was going to be something greater than she’d ever imagined, feeling a sense of tremendous power waiting to burst from the singer’s body.
For Robyn, Whitney had an ability to use song to move people – and she was all too aware of this gift.
But this exceptional talent was to mean the end of the pair’s sexual relationship. Whitney, on the cusp of mega-stardom, signed to Arista Records in 1982. Not long after, she placed a slate-blue Bible into Robyn’s hands.
Whitney told Robyn that they could no longer have a “physical” relationship, as it could make the path to success even harder, and living the sort of life they were would see them “go to hell”.
This was a bombshell for Robyn, who said the pair had previously spoken about how their physical relationship could impact on Whitney’s career. The singer told Robyn that if their relationship got out, people would use it against them.
Heartbreakingly, Robyn says that despite what the church and Bible said about them, she still loved her. Talking about her deep love for ‘Nippy’, she believes ending the physical side of it didn’t seem like “losing that much”.
Despite the star breaking off their romance, the pair still shared an apartment in New Jersey — sleeping in separate rooms.
They would only sleep in the same bed if they got high, due to Robyn’s desire to protect the singer from harm. But in 1983 Whitney had a fling with fellow singer Jermaine Jackson.
Looking back to that time, Robyn says she knew that Whitney was slipping away from her. Leaving the physical side behind was one thing, but finding barriers going up between them was less easy to accept.
Robyn tells of a dark time shedding many tears. Eventually she was put on Whitney’s payroll, acting as confidante and protector of the star. After Whitney’s first album was released in 1985, resulting in five top ten singles, she went off on a world tour with Robyn by her side.
That did little to quell rumours about the pair’s closeness which were “flying as high as her career”. Robyn adds that Whitney once slapped her for spending the day with another woman.
Their relationship was also frowned upon by Whitney’s mother Cissy, who is said to have told her daughter that being so close to another woman was not “natural”. On tour, a large case carried Whitney’s favourite foods — Fruity Pebbles and Cap’n Crunch cereals, as well as tuna. But there were also “drugs all around”.
During this time, Robyn was growing increasingly worried about the pair’s drug use. Despite creating rules and boundaries around their use, “Nip” would simply ignore the restrictions at will.
Whitney began dating rapper Bobby Brown in 1989, although Robyn claims her ex-lover was more interested in actor Eddie Murphy.
But the Beverly Hills Cop star would stand her up. Robyn recalls a night when Murphy was expected for dinner. She caught a glimpse of her former lover looking stunning in a black dress and low-heeled slingbacks – leaving her wishing it was all for her. Eddie never turned up that evening.
Before Whitney’s wedding to Brown, now 50, Robyn claims Murphy called her to say she was making a mistake. But the pair were hitched. As Whitney’s maid of honour, Robyn tells how she gazed into the singer’s eyes as she took the bouquet, losing herself in one last look.
In the 1990s, after the birth of the couple’s daughter Bobbi Kristina, Whitney’s drug abuse spiralled.
The hitmaker would tell Robyn how she admired her for managing to move on from drugs, but that she wasn’t “ready” to do the same just yet.
Despite this, Robyn tells how she tried with Whitney’s father to get the troubled singer into rehab.
The attempts met with failure, after the star repeated she was not ready.
This proved to be a turning point for Robyn, realising there was nothing more she could do and that she needed to save herself instead. Robyn quit her job in 2000.
She missed Whitney terribly, but would hear from the singer’s assistant occasionally, later learning the star herself was behind the calls.
Robyn only heard from Whitney directly a few times — including after a 911 call she had made following a fight with husband Bobby.
Their volatile marriage would end in divorce in 2007 and their daughter Bobbi would die aged 22 in similar circumstances to Whitney.
On February 11, 2012, Whitney, then just 48, was found unconscious in Suite 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, submerged in the bathtub.
She was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. The cause of death was given as drowning and the “effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use”.
Cocaine found in her body indicated she used the substance shortly before her death.
In the memoir, which comes as the singer is back in the charts with her remixed cover of Steve Winwood’s Higher Love, Robyn tells how she was having dinner when she received a call with the devastating news that her former friend and lover was dead.
She describes the new as “shattering” her body. At the funeral, Robyn recalls the silence as the service neared its end. And then the sound of Whitney singing I Will Always Love You rang out as her gold casket passed along the aisle.
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Robyn, who is now married to Lisa Hintelmann with two adopted children, speaks of approaching Cissy at the family table and kneeling so she could hear her words.
She simply said that she thought they had time. Cissy looked at her and said “She did too”. Looking back, Robyn says she knows Whitney knew she loved her, and that the singer felt the same.
For her former lover and friend, the pair meant everything to each other. Truly a Higher Love.