Whitney Houston released her debut album at the age of 22 and went on to have three No. 1 hits. Whitney (1987) spawned four additional No. 1 singles and garnered Houston a Grammy, with subsequent albums including I’m Your Baby Tonight (1990) and My Love Is Your Love (1998), as well as soundtracks for The Bodyguard (1992) and Waiting to Exhale (1995). Houston’s career deviated after her marriage to musician Bobby Brown in 1992 and subsequent drug usage. She eventually made a comeback with I Look to You in 2009, and she also co-starred in Sparkle, a musical film. On February 11, 2012, Houston died as a result of an accidental drowning in a hotel.
Houston, who was born on August 9, 1963, in Newark, New Jersey, seemed destined from infancy to be a singer. Her mother and cousin were both legendary characters in gospel, soul, and pop music in the United States. Cissy Houston was the choir minister of New Hope Baptist Church, where a young Houston began her career. Houston could captivate audiences even as a youngster; she later told Diane Sawyer that a euphoric response from the church at New Hope had a tremendous effect on her: “I think I knew then that [my singing ability] was an infectious thing that God had given me.”
By the age of 15, Houston was frequently performing with her mother and attempting to land her own record deal. She was spotted around the same time by a photographer who was taken by her natural beauty. She quickly rose to prominence as a popular young model, becoming one of the first African American women to grace the cover of Seventeen magazine. Her primary love, though, remained music.
When Houston was 19, she was found in a nightclub by Clive Davis of Arista Records, who promptly signed her and took over her career as she transitioned from gospel to pop stardom. Houston made her national television debut in 1983, performing “Home” from the musical The Wiz on The Merv Griffin Show. She and Davis worked on her debut album for the following two years, selecting the best producers and songwriters to showcase her incredible singing abilities.
Albums and Songs
‘Whitney Houston’ Album: “Saving All My Love for You,” “How Will I Know”
Whitney Houston, the artist’s debut album, was released in 1985, and she quickly became a blockbuster pop sensation. Over the next year, her hit singles “Saving All My Love for You” and “How Will I Know” helped propel the album to the top of the charts, where it remained for 14 weeks. Houston received a Grammy for “Saving All My Love for You” in 1986, and the trophy was given to her by her cousin Dionne Warwick.
‘Whitney’ Album: “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”
Houston’s second album, Whitney, was released in 1987, following the phenomenal success of her debut. That album, too, went platinum multiple times and won a Grammy for the single “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” as well as a successful world tour. During this time, the singer also performed at a concert commemorating Nelson Mandela’s birthday and established the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children, a non-profit organization that funds projects to assist needy children all over the world.
Houston was on top of the world by 1992, but her life was going to become very complex very rapidly. After a three-year engagement, she married R&B singer Bobby Brown, formerly of New Edition, that year. The marriage began passionately and lovingly, but things soured as the decade went. Both Brown and Houston struggled with substance misuse and increasingly erratic conduct, with Houston later referring to Brown’s emotional abuse and domestic violence.
‘The Bodyguard’ Album: ‘I Will Always Love You’
In spite of these growing personal troubles, Houston continued to progress in her career, crossing over successfully into acting in 1992 by starring opposite Kevin Costner in the wildly popular movie The Bodyguard. With this project, she set a trend for her films to follow: For each movie she also released hit singles, creating sensational record sales for the soundtracks. Her smash single from The Bodyguard, a cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” from 1974, proved to be Houston’s biggest hit ever, spending a record-breaking 14 weeks atop the U.S. charts. The soundtrack album went on to win Houston three Grammys, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year. Later in the 1990s, Houston also starred in Waiting to Exhale and The Preacher’s Wife, both accompanied by hit soundtracks as well.
‘My Love Is Your Love’ Album: ‘It’s Not Right But It’s Okay’
Houston released My Love Is Your Love, her first non-soundtrack studio album in many years, in 1998, and it garnered her another Grammy for the single “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay,” Although her collaboration with Mariah Carey in the animated film The Prince of Egypt produced a hit single, “When You Believe,” which won an Academy Award, the album was not as successful as her previous full-length releases.
Houston’s increasingly turbulent marriage, drug troubles, and health issues threatened to wreck her career in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Several concert cancellations, as well as an infamous TV interview with Sawyer in 2002, in which Houston appeared far too thin and in ill condition, fueled speculation that she was on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
‘Just Whitney’ Album
Houston garnered significant airtime when production on the TV reality series Being Bobby Brown began in 2004. The show aired amid the couple’s worst years of divorce; drug use, lifestyle excess, and bad behavior were all caught on film, and Houston’s reputation plummeted to new lows. Houston attempted to disregard the criticism by pressing on with her music, releasing Just Whitney… to counter her naysayers, but it failed to match the success of her prior efforts. Despite her tumultuous relationship, Houston was nonetheless praised as a vocalist, with Guinness World Records naming her the most-awarded female artist of all time in 2006.
Houston attempted to mend her marriage and kick her drug habit over the next four years, but after repeated relapses, Cissy had to step in. “[My mother] walks in with the sheriff and she says: ‘I have a court injunction here,” Houston told Oprah Winfrey in 2009. We’re not going to do this unless you do it my way. You’re going to retire and appear on television. And tell them you’re giving up because it’s not worth it.” Houston took a pause from her profession after her divorce from Brown in 2007 and winning sole custody of Bobbi Kristina.
‘I Look to You’ Album
Houston appeared to be coming to terms with her personal life after nearly a decade of struggle. In 2009, she launched a new album, I Look To You. “The songs themselves will speak to you, and you’ll understand where I am and some of the changes I’ve gone through for the better,” Houston told Entertainment Tonight. The album was well appreciated by music enthusiasts, and it quickly rose to the top of the album rankings. Her live appearances, on the other hand, received mixed reviews, with some criticizing the quality of her voice.
Houston was supposed to be in financial problems in early 2012, but she refuted this. Indeed, Houston appeared to be on the rise: she co-wrote the musical film Sparkle with Jordin Sparks, a remake of the 1976 film about an all-girl musical group akin to The Supremes, and she was reportedly approached to join the singing competition series The X Factor as a judge. Unfortunately, Houston died before the current comeback could be realized.
Houston died on February 11, 2012, at the age of 48, in Los Angeles, at the Beverly Hilton hotel, where Davis was hosting a Grammy party. Houston was seen out in the days leading up to her death, including at a pre-Grammy party. The official cause of her death, according to a report released by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office on March 22, 2012, was unintentional drowning. Heart problems and cocaine discovered in her system were also contributing causes.
With her death, the music industry lost one of its most renowned stars. Houston, according to Davis, “is in the great tradition of great, great singers, whether it’s Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, or Gladys Knight.”
Daughter Bobbi Kristina
Following her mother’s death, Bobbi Kristina experienced a great deal of turmoil. She was hospitalized shortly following Houston’s death due to mental trauma, but she subsequently told Winfrey about returning to her mother’s house and experiencing her mother’s presence. Houston bequeathed everything to her daughter, but her sister-in-law Pat Houston eventually became executor of the estate.
Bobbi Kristina and her grandmother, Cissy, had public spats over the publication of Whitney Houston’s memoir, Remembering Whitney. She was rumored to have married Nick Gordon, who had been taken in by Houston as a youngster and reared with Bobbi Kristina, in early 2014, although later reports suggested that they were not officially married. In another spat, she slammed Angela Bassett on Twitter after the actress/director chose to cast a trained actor in the lead part of a Houston biopic instead of Bobbi Kristina.
Bobbi Kristina was discovered face down in a bathtub in her Roswell, Georgia, home by colleague Max Lomas on January 31, 2015, nearly three years to the day after her mother died. She was transferred to Emory University Hospital after being hospitalized to North Fulton Hospital and placed in a medically induced coma.
Her father and grandmother visited her at the hospital, and a candlelight vigil was organized on February 10 in suburban Atlanta. Bobbi Kristina Brown died on July 26, 2015, in Duluth, Georgia, at Peachtree Christian Hospice. She was 22 years old at the time.
Whitney, backed by the Houston estate, was published in July 2018, with Houston’s sister-in-law, Pat, serving as executive producer.
“Everyone who has lived has a story to tell.” “It’s her story, and it’s told in the documentary,” Pat Houston said a few weeks before the film’s premiere on Good Morning America. “She did a lot of the narration herself.” It’s just her life and her narrative as the relatives and friends who coped with it every day view it.”
The documentary had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. According to the documentary, her cousin, Dee Dee Warwick, sister of Dionne Warwick, reportedly sexually molested the singer. Houston’s brother told filmmakers that Dee Dee molested him and that he assumed his sister was as well. The documentary also revealed Houston’s drug history — her brother Michael admitting to giving her marijuana and cocaine as a gift for her 16th birthday — as well as her friendship with fellow pop superstar Michael Jackson.
Robyn Crawford’s book A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston, published the following year, revealed even more details about the singer’s personal life. Crawford, Houston’s longtime friend and assistant, revealed that the two had a romantic relationship before Houston became a global sensation.
Posthumous Music, Projects and Honors
‘Memories,’ ‘Higher Love’
Fans were given to a new Houston single, “Memories,” in 2016, with Malaysian singer Siti Nurhaliza sharing credit on the track. Houston’s vocals were recorded roughly 35 years before. Another new Houston song was released in 2019, this time a rendition of Steve Winwood’s 1986 smash “Higher Love.” Houston recorded a version for her 1990 album I’m Your Baby Tonight, which was later remixed for a posthumous release by Norwegian DJ and producer Kygo.
It was stated in 2019 that Houston’s hologram would go on tour the following year. BASE Holograms was developing the performance, which already featured the likenesses of Greek opera singer Maria Callas and American rock ‘n’ roll legend Roy Orbison.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
On January 15, 2020, it was announced that Houston had been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.