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Whitney Houston's recent death rocked the world of Shuree Rivera, a promising young pop singer who releases her debut album in March. Shuree (she goes by her first name as an artist), like so many young girls, was inspired by Houston to start singing in the first place.

But Shuree may relate to the late diva more than others. Houston's life was marred by drug problems and a rocky marriage. Shuree grew up in a broken home where domestic violence and substance abuse were the norm; she lost a 21-year-old sister to an overdose.

"Growing up, all four of us [children] faced abuse of all kinds," Shuree says. "Our parents would fistfight in our home and out on the street, and drug and alcohol abuse was all around us. We all had to make a choice how we were going to handle our own personal pain."

On her blog, Shuree wrote, "There were many painful abusive situations I faced as a child. I remember when the darkness tried to overtake my existence as young woman. I remember wishing that I was dead. What stopped me from hurting myself? The Word of God." On another blog post, she wrote a poem about her mother that includes these lines:

Childhood abuse screwed you mentally
making you a mom who couldn't see
a new day had begun
but the demons of your past seemed to always come
You locked yourself up when your bipolar hit
Daddy and you began to split
A past of pain, regrets, and no love tore up your soul
and made you turn to drugs
I never knew you were an addict before
and this was how you coped before I was born
5 kids later we all wait for the day
when we'll have our mother
and her demons are slayed
We're all waitin for a little love
but all we keep gettin is our mamma's drug

Through faith and persistence, Shuree has risen above her circumstances. ...

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February 2012

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