Crawford was pursued for years to tell the story of her time with Whitney Houston, but never has until now.
“Over the years the more I would hear people talking about her career, the more it was inaccurate,” she tells PEOPLE. “The negativity really bothered me. I came to a point where I felt I should say something. I felt an urgency to stand up and share the woman behind the incredible talent.”
For example, she writes about Houston’s closeness to her cousin Dee Dee Warwick, the sister of Dionne Warwick.
In 2018, the documentary Whitney made a shocking claim that Houston had once confided Dee Dee had molested her when she was a young girl.
Crawford says if that had been true, she would have known.
“Whitney loved Dee Dee,” says Crawford. “She was very close to the Warwick family. Both before all of her success — and during.”
“She and I talked a lot about our families,” notes Crawford. “She shared everything with me about her family, as I did mine. If that was true, I would have known about it. She would have told me.”
(Houston’s brother Gary also claimed in the film that he was molested by Dee Dee between the ages of 7 and 9.)
At the time of the allegations, Houston’s mom, Cissy Houston, and Dionne Warwick issued a statement to PEOPLE refuting the claim, which read in part: “Dee Dee may have had her personal challenges but the idea that she would have molested my children is overwhelming and for us unfathomable.”
Crawford’s support of Houston’s cousin Dee Dee is one of the many revelations in her memoir. In writing it, she hopes that people will remember Houston as a real woman behind the voice that could move millions all over the world.
In recounting the loss of her best friend, Crawford also relived the painful losses of her mother, Janet Crawford, and her brother, Marty, who both died of AIDS in the ’90s.
Her mother showed her how to be strong in the face of adversity, and her kind, sensitive and loving brother Marty was never able to live openly as his true self.
“I often wonder what my brother’s life would be today,” she says, “if only he had been able to just be.”
“I feel in writing the book, I’ve completed the cycle. That means facing the loss of my brother and my mother and my best friend,” she continues. “I got to know something more about each of them and that was important to my life moving forward.”
In writing her story, and their story, she says, “I feel they were with me. They are my angel wings.”