Whitney Houston

  • R&B, pop, soul singer born in 1963 from Newark New Jersey. Died in 2012 of accidental drowning in her bathtub, with heart disease and cocaine use listed as contributing factors in her death.
  • She grew up in a house full of music. Her mother was a gospel singer, a cousin to singer Dionne Warwick. Her godmother was singer Darlene Love, and she considered Aretha Franklin to be an “honorary aunt.”  At 11, Houston was a soloist in her gospel choir. She went to clubs where her mother was performing and occasionally joined her mother on stage. At 15, she sang back-up vocals for Lou Rawls and Chaka Khan. She began working as a fashion model while still in high school, appearing in Seventeen, Cosmopolitan and Glamour magazines. She continued singing for several recording projects, and was offered recording contracts in 1980 and 1981, but her mother insisted that she complete high school first. In 1983, she signed with Arista records, and later that year, she appeared on The Merv Griffin Show, her national television debut.
  • Her first recording was a duet with Teddy Pendergrass, Hold Me, released by Pendergrass in 1984 (and in 1985 on Houston’s debut album). The song reached #5 on the R&B chart. Her debut album, the self titled Whitney Houston, became a monumental hit record. A year after its release, it reached #1 on the album chart, and stayed there for 14 weeks. It sold over 22 million copies worldwide, and is certified 13x platinum. It is the first debut album, and the first album by a solo female artist, to have 3 singles hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 – Saving All My Love For You, How Will I Know, and Greatest Love Of All. It won a Grammy award, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2013, and it is #257 on Rolling Stones’ Greatest Albums of All Time list.
  • Her next album, Whitney, was released in 1987. She became the first woman in music history to have an album debut at the top of  the Billboard 200 album chart, and she became the first woman ever to have 4 songs reach #1 from the same album – I Want To Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me), Didn’t We Almost Have It All, So Emotional, and Where Do Broken Hearts Go. Her 7 consecutive #1 singles broke the previous record of 6 by The Beatles and The Bee Gees. The album sold 20 million copies worldwide, and was 9x platinum for sales in the U.S.
  • In 1988, she recorded a song for the Olympics – One Moment In Time. It reached #5 on the Hot 100 chart, and was at the top of charts throughout Europe.
  • In 1990, she released her third studio album, I’m Your Baby Tonight. It included 2 more #1 hits – the song I’m Your Baby Tonight and All The Man That I Need. Several months after its release, she performed The Star Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl – her rendition is considered one of the most memorable music moments in Super Bowl history. It was so popular that it was released as a single, and it reached the Top 20 of the Hot 100 chart. After the 9/11 attack, it was re-released, with all profits donated to victims of the attack – this time, it peaked at #6.
  • As huge as she was – she got even bigger in 1992, with her starring role in the film The Bodyguard, and the soundtrack from the film. The soundtrack became the fifth biggest selling album of all time, with 42 million copies sold worldwide, and in the U.S., it is certified 18x platinum. Houston’s cover of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You spent 14 weeks at #1, and it became her signature song, as it best exhibits her incredible vocal skill. Many consider it an iconic moment in music history. Houston won 3 Grammy awards for her effort.
  • From 1995 to 1997, Houston starred in 3 more films – Waiting To Exhale, The Preacher’s Wife, and a TV version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. The soundtrack to Waiting To Exhale was 7x platinum, and The Preacher’s Wife is the best selling gospel album of all time.
  • Back to the studio, Houston released My Love Is Your Love in 1998. Another 4x platinum album, 3 songs made it to the top 5 – Heartbreak Hotel (performed with Faith Evans and Kelly Price), It’s Not Right But It’s Okay, and My Love Is Your Love.
  • Just 3 more studio albums were released – Just Whitney in 2002, One Wish: The Holiday Album in 2003, and I Look To You in 2009. These albums did not perform as well as early work – Houston’s drug usage and the abusive behavior of her husband Bobby Brown impacted her work and her popularity.
  • Her death was a shock. Her behavior was erratic in the days before she died. Her last public performance was 2 days before her death, singing Jesus Loves Me with singer Kelly Price. She was expected to attend a pre-Grammy party, but was found dead in her hotel room that day. When the Grammy awards ceremony occurred the next day, Jennifer Hudson paid tribute to Houston by singing I Will Always Love You. 
  • Houston is one of the greatest singers ever. She won hundreds of awards, including 8 Grammys (including 2 Grammy Hall of Fame awards) and 1 Emmy award. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020. Want to hear her sing? Here are her masterpieces – I Will Always Love You and The Star Spangled Banner.

     

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