The widespread report of her demise is denied by the singer's label
Whitney Houston
Credit: Whitney Houston: Kevin Mazur/

Rumors of Whitney Houston’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

False reports that the troubled singer had suffered a fatal overdose began to spread through the industry Thursday. Even ABC News anchor Peter Jennings mentioned it. But Laura Swanson, head of publicity at Houston’s label, Arista Records, says reports that Houston is dead are absolutely untrue. ”I was in [Arista President] L.A. Reid’s office a few minutes ago when Whitney called, very upset [about the rumor],” Swanson told Thursday afternoon.

Houston — who had been busted for marijuana possession in June 2000 — performed at the first of Michael Jackson’ s two 30th anniversary Madison Square Garden concerts on Friday, Sept. 7, singing the curtain-raising ”Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin”’ along with Usher and Mya. Many onlookers took note of her disturbingly gaunt, skeletal appearance. Her failure to appear as scheduled at Jackson’ s second concert, Monday, Sept. 10, may have jump-started the rumor, sources speculate.

Meanwhile, in a response to the national malaise following the World Trade Center disaster, Arista is rush-releasing Houston’s rousing Super Bowl version of ”The Star-Spangled Banner” to radio.