LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Whitney Houston needed a make-up artist Thursday and Reginald Dowdley, through a connection, got a surprise call and then the gig.

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He spoke exclusively Saturday night with Louisa Hodge — reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9 News — hours after he learned of the icon’s death. She called him earlier Saturday to do her make-up for Clive Davis’s annual pre-Grammy party.

Dowdley had never met Houston before Thursday and her death hit him hard.

“I was elated to do her make-up,” he told Hodge, “I finally got to work with her…someone I idolized. And I thought, ‘wow, now I’m working with her.”

Although some media reports said Houston was “erratic” on Thursday, Dowdley said he found her nothing but great, professional, friendly and fun to work with.

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“She asked me some personal questions, she told me how great life was, how happy she was,” he said.

He showed Hodge a series of photos on his cell phone showing the singer ebullient and beaming. She enjoyed his work so much, she called him Saturday and wanted to book his services. “I was … honored,” he said, choking back tears.

“I still can’t believe she is gone,” he says, “just two days later. I’m shocked. I cried earlier. But I don’t believe it.”

During their make-up session, Dowdley says Houston chatted while enjoying gospel music and described her as “joyful…vibrant. She was just relaxing. And so excited. She talked a lot about the party tonight … and how she was so looking forward to it.”

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