The Journey of “The Prom Queen of Soul”: Whitney Houston


Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born August 9, 1963 in Newark, Jew Jersey. She was born into a family with musical talent with her mother being Cissy Houston, a gospel and R&B singer. Dionne Warwick was her cousin, Darlene Love was her god mother, and Aretha Franklin was her honorary aunt. She started singing in a church choir at age 11 as a soloist at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. By the time she was 15 Whitney had started touring with her mother and performing as a backup vocalist on Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman.” She also sung backup for Lou Rawls and Jermaine Jackson. Whitney was offered several record deals in the early 1980’s, but she did not sign because her mother wanted her to finish high school first.

Whitney's Rise to Fame

In 1983 Whitney was performing at a night club when she was then discovered by Clive Davis. She went on to sign a record deal with Arista Records to jump start her career. Arista was the only record label she had signed to. Whitney did not rush an album to be released. Her debut album titled “Whitney Houston” was released two years after she signed to Arista Records. Although her first song on the album”Someone For Me” did not do so well, but  her second song “You Give Good Love” became #1 on the charts in May 1985.  Her album became #1 on the charts a years after it was released and stayed #1 for 14 weeks. The album sold over 3 million copies within the first year, but it ultimately sold 13 million copies in the US and 25 million worldwide. Whitney’s music fell into the genres of R&B,  pop, soul, and gospel.

In 1986 after her debut album was released Whitney went on her world tour, Greatest Love Tour. Her album had also become 13x platinum in the US. She was also nominated for three Grammy awards with one being album of the year. She won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocalist for her song “Saving All My Love”, which she also performed during the Grammy telecast. Due to her performance she also earned an Emmy award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. Between 1986 and 1987 Whitney had won seven AMA’s and an MTV VMA. Her album continued to do well and earned her another Grammy in 1987. USA Today named Houston’s entrance to the music industry as one of 25 musical milestones. Her rise to stardom opened doors for other African American artist such as Janet Jackson and Anita Baker. She released her second album “Whitney” in 1987. She was the first woman in music history to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200album charts. She was also the first woman to have four #1 singles from the same album. “Whitney was 9x platinum. She was the highest paid African American woman between 1987 to 1988. She also went on another worldwide tour “Moment of Truth World Tour“. Houston was also apart of the anti-apartheid movement and supported Nelson Mandela, and did a concert to bring awareness about apartheid . She was also did a benefit concert which raised $250,000 for the United Negro College Fund. She also started the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children, which helps raise funds for kids of need around the  world. One of Houston’s most memorable moments in her career was when she sung the “Star Spangled Banner” at Superbowl XXV in 1991. She sung live and received a lot of backlash due to the fact that people thought it was a lip synced performance. The performance was not lip synced she was just singing into a mic that was turned off because of a noise factor. She also did a memorable concert “Welcome Home Heroes” for the soldiers that fought in the Persian Gulf War and their families. It was a free concert in collaboration with HBO. It gave HBO very high ratings. Followed by the Concert she went on her third tour I’m Your Baby Tonight World Tour.

Inside Whitney's Personal Life

In the 1980’s Houston was known to have been romantically involved with actor/comedian Eddie Murphy and Football star Randall Cunningham. In 1989 she met R&B singer Bobby Brown. The two dated for three years before they tied the not in 1992. After eight months of marriage in 1993 the two welcomed their daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown. Bobbi Kristina was their only child together, however Houston did have a miscarriage which happened during the filming of her first movie role “The Bodygaurd.” The movie was Houston’s first feature film that she starred in and it was released in 1992. The film did well in the box office making over $400 million worldwide. One of the songs from the films soundtrack was Houston’s song “I Will Always Love You,” which became one of the biggest singles in pop music history. In 1995 Whitney and Bobby announced that they had split up and planned on divorcing, but called it off months later. Houston then starred in the film “Waiting to Exhale” with Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, and Lela Rochon. The film got Houston nominated for the NAACP Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture. In 1996 Houston starred in the film “The Preacher’s Wife” with Denzel Washington, and in 1997 she played the role of the Fairy Godmother in the remake of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

Outside of her career Whitney Houston was a great mother. Her daughter Bobbi Kristina meant everything to her. They had an unbreakable bond.Whitney once said in an interview “It’s a different thing when you become a mother. It changes your whole perspective on life. You really don’t live for you anymore. You’re living for your children.” They were best friends and as Bobbi Kristan got older they became even closer. Houston had started doing drugs like cocaine at a very young age. She was given the drug at age 16 by a family friend and became hooked to it. In the 1990’s her drug use was very heavy and had her spiraling while her career was booming. She did drugs up until she became a mother. After giving birth she started back using drugs. It was an addiction she couldn’t shake off. While being a mother and trying to maintain a happy marriage, it became unbearable for Whitney. At a young age her daughter became everything she needed such as a protector, best friend, and confidante. Her marriage to Bobby brown became toxic. They were allegations of abuse. Whitney and Bobby divorced in 2006 which brought her and her daughter even closer. As Bobbi Kristina got older they would do things such as party together and it was known that Bobbi was very protective of her mother and kept her out of trouble.

After her divorce Houston tried to recover her name by doing a huge interview with Oprah Winfrey. She also put out another album “I Look to You” in 2009. She went on another tour “Nothing but Love” which was her first tour in over ten years. The awards started rolling back in with NAACP award nomination and a BET Honors Award. In 2011 she enrolled in a rehab facility where she got help for her ongoing drug and alcohol problem. In September 2011 she was given a role to play in the remake of the musical “Sparkle” and she was also the executive producer. The movie was released in August 2012.


In February of 2012 Houston made her last performance when she performed on stage with Kelly Price in California. On February 11th she was found unresponsive in her hotel room bathroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The cause of Houston’s death was due to drowning, drug use, and effects of atherosclerotic heart disease. She had used cocaine right before she passed away and the toxicology report also found drugs like Benadryl, Xanax, and Flexeril. She had an accidental death. Her memorial service was a week after her death February 18th at her childhood church in New Jersey. It was a four our service. She was buried a day later next to her father.

Her Legacy

Whitney Houston is an icon. She is a music legend. She is not only an icon because of her music there are many reasons. She was the first African American female to be on the cover of Seventeen Magazine when she was a teenager. She also made history being one of the first black musicians consistently featured on MTV. She was the first of many things such as best-selling debut album by a female artist, first album by a female artist to debut at #1, Only artist to have seven consecutive singles on the chart at #1, best selling single by a female artist, and most awarded female artist of all time. She has inspired so many artists that we listen to today like Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Ashanti, and her god daughter Brandy. She was popular and most known for turning gospel and r&b into pop music.

Why I Chose Whitney Houston

I chose to do Whitney Houston as my artist because she is legendary. She is not the “Prom Queen of Soul” for no reason. She has inspired so many artist that we listen to today such as Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, and many more artist. She is truly an icon in music. She falls under four music genres. She has won many awards and have done so many things as far as giving back to others. Although she had a troubling time in life she was always positive and had such an amazing personality. She was such a beautiful soul with a lot of talent and it showed through her music.










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