A preview of her Dateline sit-down aired Thursday on the Today show and Crawford talked about why she decided to write A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston, having kept silent about their love affair for decades.
“I watched her rise to the top of her game and I felt compelled to share who that woman was behind all the fame,” Crawford told NBC News’s Craig Melvin. “I never envisioned speaking publicly about my life and then I asked myself the question, ‘What would Whitney want? Would she understand you know, the time is now?’”
As for that romance, the physical part was fleeting. The women met as teenagers at a summer camp in 1980 and began an intimate relationship, but it was cut short when Houston signed a record deal with Clive Davis at Arista in 1983. Crawford wrote in her book that Houston said they had to end their physical romance because she was afraid people would find out and use it against them. Further, Crawford said that Houston’s mom, Cissy, did not approve of their closeness.
“She said I don't believe we should be physical anymore,” Crawford recalled. “The music business was a world that we were learning and we didn't want anything to interfere with where she was going… I just felt that I wouldn’t be losing much. I still loved her the same and she loved me and that was good enough.”
As for who knew about their romantic relationship, “I would say no one,” Crawford replied. “It was ours.”
And they remained the best of friends after— and, for a while, were housemates.
“We were intimate on many levels and all I can say was that it was very deep and we were very connected ... our friendship was a deep friendship,” she said. “In the early part of that friendship, it was physical.”
As for people who may doubt her story, she replied, “I can't even get into that. I mean, some people may feel that way. Hopefully, they won't."
A rep for the Houston family didn’t respond to NBC’s request for comment about the interview. However, Houston previously denied that she and Crawford had a sexual relationship, including in a 1987 interview with Time.
"My mother taught me that when you stand in the truth and someone tells a lie about you, don't fight it,” Houston said when asked Crawford, who was sharing a New Jersey apartment with the singer and acting as her personal assistant. “I'm not with any man. I'm not in love. People see Robyn with me, and they draw their own conclusions. Anyway, whose business is it if you're gay or like dogs? What others do shouldn't matter. Let people talk. It doesn't bother me because I know I'm not gay. I don't care."
Houston went on to call Crawford the "sister I never had."
Crawford was quoted in the same interview, saying, "I tell my family, 'You can hear anything on the streets, but if you don't hear it from me, it's not true.’”
In Cissy’s 2013 book, Remembering Whitney, she wrote about the pair, saying, “I knew I didn’t want Robyn around my daughter, and I told [Whitney] that, There wasn’t much I could do though. [Whitney] liked Robyn. She was past the age when I could forbid her from seeing someone. Kids have a mind of their own when they get older. They want to experiment with all kinds of things. And I don’t know if it was more than that.”
Cissy told Oprah in a 2013 interview to promote that book that she “absolutely” would have been bothered if her daughter was gay. She went on to say that she would no have condoned it or liked it at all.
Of course, Houston went on to marry Bobby Brown in 1992 — Crawford was her maid of honor — and have Bobbi Kristina in 1993. Houston, who was plagued by drug problems, ended her marriage in 2007. She died in 2012 — drowning the bathtub in her room at the Beverly Hilton with heart disease and cocaine use as contributing factors — at the age of 48. Bobbi Kristina died, in an eerily similar fashion, in 2015.
Houston’s romantic status has been buzzed about for years. The 2018 documentary Whitney, her rumored bisexuality was presented as fact and it described a contentious relationship between Brown and Crawford as they battled for the superstar’s affections.
In 2016, Brown confirmed that Houston and Crawford had a romantic relationship. And, despite any apparent rift between them, he said that had Crawford maybe could have saved Houston from her drug spiral.
“I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney’s life, Whitney would still be alive today,” Brown told Us Weekly. “She didn’t have close friends with her anymore.”
Crawford, a fitness trainer, ended up settling down with her partner, talent agency executive Lisa Hintlemann, and they share two children.
Dateline will run a special called “A Song for Whitney” featuring Crawford’s interview on Saturday. Then on Monday, Crawford will appear on the Today show for her first live interview.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle’s newsletter.