Publicist Kristen Foster told AP on Saturday afternoon that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown, the wire service reports.
TMZ reports based on unnamed sources that Houston died at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. "A police crime lab vehicle was seen outside the hotel just moments ago," the site says.
NBC 4 anchor Robert Kovacik reports on Twitter that Houston was to attend her mentor Clive Davis's Grammy party at the hotel tonight. The Grammy Awards are tomorrow at Staples Center.
Houston's career stats include more than 200 million records sold worldwide, two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards and 22 American Music Awards, TMZ says. She has one child, Bobbi Kristina, with former husband Bobby Brown.
Mariah Carey on Twitter: "Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston."
Updates: Beverly Hills police are telling the media that Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. in her suite on the fourth floor of the hotel. Many if not most of the top players in the music industry were to be in that hotel tonight for the Clive Davis party. Meanwhile, whoever is putting on Sunday's Grammys must be ripping up the show and planning for a long night and day tomorrow. "It must be CHAOS," TV Guide's Michael Schneider remarks on Twitter.
As of 6:15 p.m., various media say, the coroner has not yet been called to the hotel.
Magic Johnson on Twitter: "Cookie & I are shocked & saddened about the news of Whitney Houston. A great friend & one of the most beautiful voices this world has heard."
Tony Bennett on Twitter: "Whitney Houston was the greatest singer I've ever heard and she will be truly missed."
TMZ says that Houston's mother, Cissy Houston, talked to her daughter less than an hour before she died, and that cousin Dionne Warwick also spoke to her today. Neither reported any issues.
The Beverly Hilton on Twitter: "The Beverly Hilton wishes to extend its profound sympathies to the family and fans of Whitney Houston."
Below, a happier piece from Whitney Houston's body of work.
Finally: Houston's rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl, I believe in 1991.