Who was Whitney Houston?
The American singer, actress, model, and producer, Whitney Houston is one of the world’s most successful female entertainers of all time. Having been exposed to a family with a musical background, the naturally talented beauty became inspired to sing and play the piano at an early age. She entered the entertainment industry by touring nightclubs with her mother, while singing and modeling, until eventually signing her own recording contract and coming out with her debut album. This musical introduction would not only become her best-selling studio album to-date, but would earn her a Grammy, thrusting her into super-pop-stardom, followed by a string of Hollywood film features and production efforts. Throughout her career, she released seven studio albums and three movie soundtrack albums, winning her various awards. Her powerful voice, spirit, and beauty redefined the image of a soul artist. As much as the renowned singer was an international icon and inspiration to females, emerging recording artists, and the community, she also faced some personal challenges that would impair her influential status. From drug addictions to a troubled relationship with husband Bobby Brown, Houston’s reputation was painted with a series of eventful ups and downs before she ultimately succumbed to her tragic death
Childhood & Early Life
Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born on August 9th, 1963, in Newark, New Jersey. She is the daughter of Grammy-award-winning gospel singer, Emily “Cissy” Houston and John R. Houston, who managed his daughter’s production company.
She was no stranger to the entertainment industry, stemming from a line of singers and actresses. Not only did her mother’s vocal group, the ‘Sweet Inspirations’, sing backup for Aretha Franklin, but her cousins Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick are also renowned singers, as well as her godmother, Darlene Love.
She began performing in her church’s gospel choir as a soloist at the age of eleven and learned to play the piano. While attending Catholic school, she took voice lessons from her mother, with whom she would occasionally perform in nightclubs.
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In 1977, she was a backup singer for Michael Zager Band’s single ‘Life’s a Party’ and the following year she sang on Chaka Khan’s single ‘I’m Every Woman’. She was offered an opportunity to sign with a recording company, but her mother declined so she would finish high school.
In the early 1980s, at seventeen, she worked as a model, appearing in several magazines including, ‘Seventeen’, where she became the first African American to be featured on the cover. She also took on acting gigs appearing in TV show episodes such as, ‘Gimme a Break’, while continuing to develop her vocal skills.
In 1983, she signed with ‘Arista Records’. President Clive Davis spent the next couple years assembling lyricists and producers to balance her gospel-like sound with contemporary melodies.
In 1985, her debut album, ‘Whitney Houston’ gradually became the number one selling album of her career. She received numerous accolades and toured sold-out concerts in the U.S. and Europe.
Through the late 1980s, hits rocketed to the top of billboard charts. She reached a record of seven consecutive number one hits and became the first woman to produce four number-one singles from one album. In 1991, while contemplating an acting career and lead role in ‘The Bodyguard’, she performed her legendary rendition of the national anthem at the ‘Super Bowl’.
In 1992, she married singer Bobby Brown, who she had met a few years prior. She accepted the role in ‘The Bodyguard’, and was pregnant with daughter, Bobbi Kristina for most of the filming.
The picture grossed $390 million at the box office and its soundtrack produced one of the longest-running, number one singles of all time, Houston’s version of Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’.
By 1993, she was at the pinnacle of her career. She went on to star in and produce several hits such as, ‘Waiting to Exhale’ (1995), ‘The Preacher’s Wife’ (1996), and ‘Sparkle’ (2012).
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Her debut album, ‘Whitney Houston,’ is her most successful, selling over 24 million copies. She is best known for her role in ‘The Bodyguard’ and its soundtrack. Her rendition of ‘I Will Always Love You’ is the best-selling single by any female singer and the album sold over 200 million copies worldwide.
Awards & Achievements
She has won over 400 awards including, six ‘Grammys’, two ‘Emmys’, ‘30 Billboard Music Awards’, and 22 ‘American Music Awards’.
In 2009, ‘Guinness World Records’ cited her as the most awarded female musician of all time.
She is the only woman to have more than one album spend at least ten weeks at No. one. She had three: ‘Whitney Houston’, ‘Whitney’, and ‘The Bodyguard’ soundtrack.
Personal Life & Legacy
Whitney met Bobby Brown at an awards ceremony and the two started dating. Eventually after courting each other for three years, the couple exchanged nuptial vows on July 18th, 1992.
However in 2007, she and Bobby Brown divorced. She gained custody of daughter, Bobbi Kristina.
She fought a long battle with drug and alcohol abuse. She entered rehab twice and in 2011, enrolled in an outpatient program.
She supported several organizations for children. The ‘Whitney Foundation for Children’ continues her work and legacy.
Boston named the ‘Hearing and Language Disorder Clinic’ of ‘The National Birth Defect Center’ as the ‘Whitney Houston Hearing and Language Disorder Clinic’.
On February 11th, 2012, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, she was discovered unconscious in the bathtub of her suite. The cause of the death was declared as “accidental drowning”.
Despite her achievements, her enduring struggle with drug addiction created financial complications for this talented singer. At the time of her death, her reported worth was -$20 million. The surge in sales of her albums after her death increased the value of her estate to an estimated $100 million.
Her father nicknamed this famous personality ‘Nippy’, as a baby, because she kept removing her blanket during the winter. She later named her management company, ‘Nippy Inc.’