Whitney Houston

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When Whitney Houston began staging her comeback with what is now her last album, I Look to You, in 2009, no one—from her fans to those closest to her—knew what to expect. They were more worried than not.

And with good reason.

After years of substance abuse, would she be able to sing (and hit those high notes!) like she used to?

Diane Warren, the Grammy-winning songwriter who penned the album's "I Didn't Know My Own Strength," remembers their first day in the studio...

"In all honesty, I was scared because I knew she ravaged her voice a bit," Warren told me at the Grammys. "I was really scared if she was able to hit those notes, because it's a very hard song to sing. I really wrote it for the Whitney that could hit those notes."

Warren says she was more than relieved when Houston belted out the stirring ballad. "She hit those notes," she said. "Being in the studio and seeing that she could do it, it made me cry and she had tears in her eyes. It was just beautiful.

"It was like, 'You could do it, you still got it,'" continued Warren, who worked on six other songs with Houston throughout her career. "There will never be anything like that."

In July 2009, Houston's mentor Clive Davis hosted a VIP listening party for the album for a crowd that included Halle Berry, Stevie Wonder, Jane Fonda, Magic Johnson and Barry Manilow.

"I'm back home," Houston said at the time. "I'm back where I belong."

If only she could have stayed.

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