Another fabulous voice no longer with us!
With over 200 million combined album, singles and videos sold worldwide during her career, Whitney Houston (1963 – 2012) has established a benchmark for superstardom that is unlikely to be eclipsed in the modern era. She is a singer’s singer who has influenced countless other vocalists female and male.
Born into a musical family in Newark, New Jersey, Whitney’s success might’ve been foretold. Her legendary heritage is as familiar as America’s greatest icons: the daughter of famed singer Cissy Houston and the cousin of singers Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick. Whitney’s mother and cousins nurtured her passion for gospel music from birth. As a teenager, Whitney was already singing on the scene in New York, and recording performances in the ’70s and early ’80s with a number of well-known acts.
In 1983, Arista Record’s signed her and spent two years on her debut album, the self-titled Whitney Houston (February 1985) yielded a string of hits including the Grammy-winning Saving All My Love For You. Not only did the album establish her as an important new recording artist, but it set the record as the biggest selling debut album by a solo artist.
With the highly anticipated release of her second album Whitney (June 1987), she made history as the first female artist to enter the Billboard album charts at #1. The new album included four #1 chart-toppers, including the Grammy-winning I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me). This established Whitney as the only artist ever to have seven consecutive #1 hits, surpassing a record previously set by The Beatles and the Bee Gees.
Whitney’s third best-selling album, I’m Your Baby Tonight (November 1990), also included back-to-back #1 hits and the album became an international multi-platinum best-seller.
After establishing her screen appeal in her music videos, Whitney finally made her movie debut in The Bodyguard( November 1992), in which she co-starred with Oscar-winning actor/director Kevin Costner. The film not only broke box office records worldwide but was ultimately responsible for the biggest selling motion picture soundtrack album of all time, voted the Grammy-winning Album Of the Year.
Further film work and another soundtrack followed with Waiting To Exhale (December 1995) This featured three new best-selling tracks from Whitney and the album spent five weeks at #1 and was certified 7x-platinum in the US.
Whitney’s third motion picture, The Preacher’s Wife (December 1996), had a gospel-soaked soundtrack. Whitney sang on 14 of the 15 tracks which became the biggest-selling gospel album in Billboard chart history.
Whitney’s first non-soundtrack related studio album in eight years, My Love Is Your Love (November 1998), proved her ability to stay absolutely contemporary. It was the beginning of a string of gold and platinum chart hit singles from the album spanning nearly 18 months.
In the midst of her 15th anniversary year as an Arista recording artist, the double-album Whitney: The Greatest Hits (May 2000) celebrated the past, present and future.
Whitney’s seventh and final studio album, I Look To You, was released in 2009 and it debuted at #1 on the US Billboard 200 and was her first studio album to reach #1 since 1992’s The Bodyguard.
Guinness World Records lists Whitney as music’s “most awarded female artist of all time,” with an amazing tally of 411 awards (as of 2006) a tally that is certainly topped by her six Grammy Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, two Emmy Award nominations and one win, as well as MTV VMAs in the US and Europe, NAACP Image Awards, BET Awards, Soul Train Music Awards, and so on. She received the Nickelodeon “Kids Choice” award (she was inducted into the “Kids Choice” Hall Of Fame in 1996), the Dove (Gospel Music Association) Award, and Blockbuster Entertainment Award. Whitney was inducted into the BET (Black Entertainment Television) Walk Of Fame in 1996; and received Soul Train’s prestigious Quincy Jones Career Achievement Award in 1998.
Nearly 35 years after the release of her debut album, Whitney was honored with induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2020 in recognition that her unique fusion of pop, R&B and gospel – the very roots of rock & roll – subverted genres and influenced just about every contemporary vocalist.