The story is familiar. Beautiful, talented sin-ger, actor, dancer, and on down the list, succumbs in a tragic likely accident that may have involved drug abuse.

Whitney Houston was added to that roll call Saturday. She was 48. Like so many others, she is gone too soon, and yet she will always be with us.

Almost from the time the little girl from Newark, N.J., opened her mouth in song, it was clear she would one day be a star. And why not, given her lineage? Gospel great Cissy Houston was her mother, pop music icon Dionne Warwick her aunt, and the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, her godmother. Little “Nippy,” as they called her, surpassed them all in the millions of records she sold globally.

But the singing sensation, who as a youngster gained a reputation as being too squeaky clean to be believed, passed into maturity with an appetite for cocaine and marijuana, she admitted. Her tempestuous marriage to equally drug-dependent R&B singer Bobby Brown failed. Three times she went to rehab. Her voice suffered. The comeback that always seemed so close never came.

Houston’s life may serve as a cautionary lesson to some, and that’s fine. It’s a lesson that can’t be taught too often, or too early. But that’s not the only Whitney Houston who should be remembered.

Remember her as the only pop singer to have seven consecutive No. 1 singles on Billboard. Remember her as the singer who put Francis Scott Key on the Top 10 charts as a lyricist for her thrilling rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Remember her as the talented actress in films like “Waiting to Exhale.” Remember her as the voice heard on tape in countless weddings, singing her signature hit, “I Will Always Love You.”

Remember her as the memorable singer she was.

Editorial by the Philadelphia Inquirer distributed by MCT Information Services

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