Whitney Houston Biography

Review The Artist (67)

Whitney Houston-photo
FROM the moment Whitney Houston first opened her mouth to sing, it was obvious that she was bound for greatness. As the daughter of Cissy Houston, a successful rhythm-and-blues backup singer, and a cousin of the even more renowned singer Dionne Warwick, young Whitney grew up steeped in music. She dutifully sang in the New Hope Baptist Junior Choir, aspiring to nothing higher than being a backup performer like her mother. But by the time she was 11, it was readily apparent that hanging in the background wasn't in the cards for her.

When Whitney took center stage one evening to sing a solo, the power of her performance moved many in the congregation to tears. Despite her shrinking-violet tendencies, Houston's combination of exceptional beauty and her stunning, church-inflected soprano propelled her into the spotlight.

Houston first put her talent to use professionally as a teenager by singing backup for Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls. A sleek and exotic-looking young woman, Houston dabbled successfully in teen modeling, gracing the covers of such magazines as Seventeen and Glamour. At the same time, she studied acting and dancing, appeared in television commercials and sitcoms, and made occasional singing dates. But these diversions were mere warm-up exercises for the singing career she was destined for. Adequate preparation for her inevitable rise to global pop superstardom was the ultimate concern of Houston and her family, and several weeks after her 18th birthday she signed a management contract with Gene Harvey. Under his guidance, Houston continued her modeling career, took more acting and dancing classes, and worked on her voice.

After a couple of years spent developing her vocal virtuosity and making industry contacts, Houston was ready for the big time. In 1985, she signed with Arista Records, because its president, Clive Davis, had a proven track record of picking hits for his singers, not to mention a reputation for letting artists take their time to mature. A period of two years passed before her debut LP was released, and in the interim, Houston increased her profile by performing for industry bigwigs, appearing on television shows, and helping her advisers choose songs for her album. Applying a fluid, soaring technique to R&B, soul, and disco arrangements, Houston's eponymous debut spun off three No. 1 singles—"Saving All My Love for You," "How Will I Know," and "The Greatest Love of All"—and sold more than 13 million copies to become the best-selling debut of all time by a female solo artist.

(Houston's multiplatinum titleholder was toppled by Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill in 1996.) "Saving All My Love for You" earned Houston her first Grammy award (she has won a total of five thus far), and she spent the next two years touring in support of the album.

More record-setting success was to come with Houston's 1987 follow-up effort, Whitney. Not only was it the first album by a female to enter the charts at No. 1, but she became the first artist in history to score seven consecutive No. 1 hits, surpassing milestones set by the Beatles and the Bee Gees. Houston's acting and dancing lessons paid off in her dynamic MTV videos, and her galvanizing rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" at the 1990 Super Bowl. Houston promoted Whitney by heading back out on tour, and in 1990, she released I'm Your Baby Tonight, a more danceable, technically impressive effort.

Five years of constant touring had begun to take their toll, however, and Houston decided to take some time off to acquaint herself with the palatial, $11 million Mendham, N.J., mansion she had purchased. Houston's down time allowed her a chance to get her personal life in order. After being romantically linked with Jermaine Jackson, Eddie Murphy, and quarterback Randall Cunningham, Houston took up with bad-boy rhythm-and-blues artist Bobby Brown.

In 1992, the Prom Queen of Soul and the bad-ass captain of the glee club were married before 800 well-wishers. Many in the crowd couldn't help but be skeptical. Brown brought a certain amount of baggage into the marriage—like three out-of-wedlock children by two women, for starters—but despite all the couple's highly publicized contretemps since the wedding day, Houston continues to profess her love for Brown. She once offered this vehement assessment of her husband: "I've got a good man. He takes care of me. I don't have to be scared of anything because I know he will kick every ass…disrespect him and you've got a problem."

Brown's boozing and womanizing ways and sporadic run-ins with the law may have made Houston an occasional object of pity and criticism in some observers' eyes, but others argue that she is the one who is hard to put up with. She has earned a reputation as a prima donna for her frequent episodes of tardiness—in one unpleasantly conspicuous instance, she arrived two hours late to a White House dinner honoring Nelson Mandela, at which she was the featured performer (she breezed in with the excuse, "I just got off tour," even though her final appearance had been four days previously). During an Anaheim, Calif., concert appearance in August 1994, Houston tearfully requested that the spotlight be turned away from her and onto audience members Sidney and Justin Simpson, the children of O.J. and Nicole Brown Simpson. Considering the fact that Nicole had been murdered just two months before, the request seemed bizarre, and singularly mortifying.

Since 1990, Houston has managed to maintain her easily won eminence, despite the fact that she has greatly curtailed her output. Not that she hasn't been busy: navigating through some perilous straits in her personal life, the pop diva managed to bear a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, and conquer the world of film. Her first feature, The Bodyguard, banked more than $400 million worldwide, and boasted the most successful soundtrack ever released, with sales in excess of 33 million units, due largely to Houston's soaring interpretation of the Dolly Parton classic "I Will Always Love You." In 1995, Houston rounded out the cast of Waiting To Exhale, a film about successful black women looking for good men. Exhale became something of a phenomenon, as did its Whitney-heavy soundtrack. Her third and most recent film, The Preacher's Wife, didn't fare quite as spectacularly at the box office, but the soundtrack for the film presented her with an opportunity to get back in touch with her gospel roots.

Houston is known for her charitable bent, making significant contributions to the United Negro College Fund, the Children's Diabetes Fund, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, and several AIDS-related organizations, and she established the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children, Inc., a nonprofit organization whose work assists homeless children and children with cancer and AIDS.

One noncharitable appearance the diva was supposed to make was at "Blessing '97" on Nov. 29, 1997. The event, billed as the largest mass wedding ever, was to earn the diva a cool $1 million for 45 minutes onstage. But when the press seized upon the pending appearance for the Moonies (the controversial Unification Church started by Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon), Houston released a statement declaring that she didn't know "Blessing '97" was a Moonie affair. Two hours before the wedding began, she backed out citing "illness," leaving both the Moonies and her own band, which had already set up, in the lurch.

While rumors still cloud the rocky Bobby Brown union, the pairing persists, despite ongoing legal troubles. In June 1998, various tabloids reported that the two were on the verge of officially separating, a month shy of their sixth anniversary. They were proved wrong when the two singers celebrated that occasion, their marriage still intact several months later, and apparently remaining that way.

In August, news of a significant duet in divadom was made public: Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey were in the studio together. The strong-lunged, octave-jumping singers recorded "When You Believe," the theme song from the animated DreamWorks pic The Prince of Egypt, which tells the story of Moses. Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds was on hand to referee, er, produce the single. Dispelling rumors of competitiveness, the Houston and Carey appeared together at the MTV Video Music Awards in September—wearing the same dress no less. After some canned banter ("Nice dress," Carey offered. "Yeah, you look pretty good, too," Houston answered) the women presented Will Smith with the Best Male Video Award.

The The Prince of Egypt soundtrack landed in stores Nov. 17, the same day as Houston's new solo album, My Love Is Your Love. Guests on her first full-length studio recording in eight years include Missy Elliott, Faith Evans, and Wyclef Jean. The disc also sports a special hidden track, "My Love," produced by Lauryn Hill. As for "When You Believe," the track appears on the movie soundtrack, Houston's album, and Carey's new hits collection, #1's—all released the same day. Octave overload? Hardly. Retailers the world over will undoubtedly make plenty of room on store shelves for the dueling—and dueting—divas.

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I love her n I wish she's not dead | Reviewer: pat | 12/30/13

I listened to ur song tonyt(I look to you) anytime I listen to that songs I feel ur pains while u were on earth n it brings tears to my eyes,knowing that. This world is. Full of pain n troubles,I love u so much sister n. I miss you so much,RIP my. Beloved!

A rear GEM has gone Home | Reviewer: Taiye Oladunjoye | 2/24/13

I missing u alot Whitney...& love 2 watch u sing wen i get 2 Heaven. Sleep on true born Singer....you're irreplaseable. Your songs will console as many who are missing u just like i am. R.I.P Whitney Houston!!!

My Idiol | Reviewer: Hafsa | 11/28/12

I love Withney somuch ,she is my idiol , i will never forget her.ohh I miss her,she gone but I knw she left for a better place..even when gone she left something with us ...I love u Wit...may ur soul rest in peace.

rest in peace | Reviewer: hamid | 2/24/12

Ur last show which i watch in nigeria,makes me love u more and more.but as God wants it,u a not going to sing for us in another show.i want to call you to nigeria for our nigeria idol show to mark the two years of the show.REST IN PEACE

Whitney Houston/Bobbi Kristina Brown | Reviewer: cynthia denise bullock | 2/23/12

Whitney you were a beautiful person there is no performer out there who can hit a note like i just want to say Don't know why people are so damm negaive toward you but you did nothing to no one you have harmed nobody but yourself if you did that. everybody doing all that talking and they are the main ones who is probaly doing the same thing you did and still doing it the only thing is they have not gotten caught yet. my only concern now is for your daugheter Bobbi Kristina and i hope she let her father in her life now and I hope that he keeps pushing to be in her life becuse the way I see it right now he is the only one that can get through to her and she maybe the only one to get through to him because she was created out of love and that love was with Bobby Brown he too made miskes and mistake can be corrected unfortunately your can't. There is two things that you have done right and proper in my eyes while you were here on this God Green Earth and that is #1 you kept God in your life and #2 you Loved and put Bobbi Kristina's well being first &formost no matter what you did. all you did was enjoy your life fame & fortune and the Lord Jesus Christ & your daughther and if I know that there is a God and a Heaven up above my sister I know you is in heavan free from all this pain and hell down here. You can't be no where but in heaven with jesus christ & I believe that with all my heart. and for all these people with all their negative energy towards you they better remember one thing if you live you die and they too will come accross that same old judgement day you did it maybe in a diffrent way and they better hope the know Jesus becuse you sure as hell did. and he was with you every step of the way and that is why he came and got you. he knew you was crying out to him and couldn't nobody help you but Jesus Christ himself not rehabilitation not no one or nothing could have helped but JC hisself you were calling on him and he answered you as well when rached out for your hand and you took his hand with more pride and joy. thay is why you wanted to see that jesus becuse he is so cool that way. So Sweetheart RIP. You ain't did nothing wrong to no one. Your are in good hands now. An don't worry about Bobby Christina she will be just fine becuse in due time she and her father Bobby Brown will be together if that's what she wants.

will always love you baby | Reviewer: okome ngeso | 2/19/12

I love you not because you are a famous singer but because you had a very special voice wich i adore. I love singing though my voice is terrible but i pray that my daughter grow up to be agreat singer with a remarkambe voice.

Issue on the internet on lowering the flag to honour Whitney | Reviewer: Marcella | 2/18/12

Even though I am non-American, I read and observe with interest reactions of people from different cultures during important events and/or tragedies. On the death of Whitney Houston I was and am shocked at the negative comment on lowering the flag to honour a talent who in our view deserves this respect as she was the pride of America when she was at her best. It is terribly sad to note drug abuse victims are seen as offenders. Non one in a healthy state of mind would take drugs, it is an escape from internal struggles. Whitney brought so much joy to the world with her talent and millions of dollars to the economy of her country. She therefore deserves respect in every way. Christie, therefore, did the right thing to lower the flag in her honour.

Inspite of God still loves You! | Reviewer: Pastor Terrie Johnson | 2/15/12

When I first heard Whitney's voice, I knew she was someone very special. Her voice was so different from other vocalist, and like most of us we have a gospel background, that is something that is instilled in the average black person, it is the soul and the feeling in our voices that shine through, and indeed it did shine through Whitney's voice,no one can take that from us,I thank God for your Whitney, and me and the world will miss you dearly,Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, that you may not be judged by the Father".No one on this earth has a perfect life, our perfect life begins in our eternel life when we get to Heaven, may God take care of your soul, until we see you again,on the great day of judgement.May,your soul rest under the wings of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Forever in our hearts... | Reviewer: Anonymous | 2/18/12

The greatest singer of all times....God loan you to us and took you now, you are my inspiration, thank you for sharing your gift and God given talents with us...words can't express the pain I felt for this great lost but I know this troubled world is not our final world...I will truly miss u Whitney but your music will live on. God bless the family...xoxo

Catherine Kuteesa,Ug | Reviewer: Kuteesa Catherine | 2/13/12

OHHHH My God, This is one of the voices that are very rare in the world,i may say Whitney's voice was a kind of higher heavenly gifted talents that are very unique. i really love you Whitney Houston and your memories will never perish from me. very cool i Love Saving all my love for you. All at once...one of my favourates. they really touched my heart from the very start.

Always loved | Reviewer: Bernadette Henry | 2/12/12

You have done so much and always will be love no matter what bad you have done in you pass because no one is perfect no matter what. It’s a part of life and we all do bad in order to learn from wrong. You Never ever will be forgotten as long as I live. We must all go someday and our farther was ready for you to come home. You no longer will have to suffer the pain and hurt anymore though it may hurt me and many others that you left this earth. But I’m happy you in a safe place where I know you know can now rest. Much love and you will always be with in my heart.
May YOU Rest In Pace With The Other Angles :)<3

Whitney houston | Reviewer: Fortunate | 11/4/11

we will always love u no matter what.No 1 can take that voice of yours come back we need you your fans needs you,Most important thing we are human beings we made mistakes no 1 is perfect no 1 to judge us only the 1 who is above us all & he loves.Whitney houston i love u

God will take care of you/go back to old landmark we luv you. | Reviewer: teacher jen/gospel frm christ | 9/9/11

My dearest sister i want you to know.We all are not perfect,we all fall short to the GLORY OF GOD>don't just lay in it.Get up,IT is us that take our eyes off God not the other way around.He knows what we are our life is already map out for us.We must remember.Look to the hills for which comes our help,Jesus loves you more then we love our self.I LOVE YOU WHITNEY VERY MUCH.The secret is I mourn,and our God is real.Daniel 10,Ezeakiah 1-5 vers 2,3,4 chapter HIS PEACE JESUS GIVES and it's IN US.Ask Seek Knock it shall be open to us.Love ALWAYSTeacher Jen/ In Christ Jesus P.S.I wish I could show you Jesus,his spirit and the two anointed ones who is at your side your guirdian angel maybe one day you will see what i mean. PEACE AND LOVEI am not pointn my finger at you I just believe in GOD JESUS AND THE HOLY GHOST WITH ALL MY HEART.I've been there,done that it's hard.but we can make it.

dejeijar boas recuperaçao | Reviewer: hamilton dos anjos | 6/13/11

whitney huston sou seu ademirador antis e hoje muito mais,queria um dia ver voce auvivo cantando maravilhosa como sempre, voce nao presiza,pedir,nada a,alguen para mostra este grandioso talento,sim adeus que e seu verdadeiro pai,e esta com voce atodo instante,e quer voce curada,whiteny este talento maravilhoso seu,e porque voce e abençoada con todas bençaos cristo.

Whitney Houston when you come back???? | Reviewer: Amaryllis Martina | 4/14/11

We miss Whitney Houston,she a nice women!!!!
All her songs are beautiful!!
did she has a new album?

I want to talk personally with her!
A big hug for Withney Houston!
She can send me a e-mail.

I live in Curacao!
And we love her.

Thank you so much!!

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