Whitney Houston is the greatest female singer of all time; her voice was like no other with her incredible vocal ability that no one could match. She could make any song she sang her’s; it’s not surprising why people referred to her as ‘the voice.’ Throughout her career, she has been nominated for and won over hundreds of awards from Grammy’s to AMA’s. She was an incredible talent in the industry, and her music and beautiful voice will be heard forever.

Early Life

Whitney Houston was born on August 9th in Newark, New Jersey. She grew up in a middle-income area; they moved into when she turned four years old. Whitney’s mother, Emily Houston, went by “Cissy,” had and raised to children. Her oldest is a boy named Michael, and the youngest being Whitney. Whitney always had a passion for singing even as a young child; she loved and knew she wanted to pursue singing. Luckily Whitney’s mother was a singer, so her mother trained her and taught her how to use her voice and perform growing up. Whitney’s mother, Cissy, was a gospel and backup singer. She was very successful in being able to sing backup for an artist like Aretha Franklin. Aretha Franklin was also Whitney’s Godmother. Her cousin was also Dionne Warwick, who also was a successful singer. So, Whitney had a family of singers. Growing up, since Whitney’s mother knew she had a love for singing, she taught her to sing and had her sing in church to get practice. When she was 11 years old, her mom joined Whitney in a junior gospel choir at a church in Newark named New Hope Baptist Church. Before this, at just the ages of 8 and 9, Whitney’s mom would be taker to recording studios to practice singing. Growing up singing, Whitney looked up to both her mother and godmother Aretha Franklin.

Professional Career

The Beginning

Whitney Houston’s professional singing career started when she was just 19 years old. Clive Davis noticed her at a nightclub where she was performing, and he signed her to his record label. Soon after he signed her, he got Whitney a spot to perform on a popular national television show at the time, called The Merv Griffin Show. She sang the song ‘Home’ from ‘The Wiz.’ This was her first televised performance. 

Shortly after this performance Clive Davis and his team started working with Whitney. He was seeking out multiple writers to start creating songs that would fit her voice and the pop style he was going for. Though Whitney was singing gospel before Clive Davis found her, he knew she could go mainstream singing pop music after hearing her voice. So, that’s what they went for, and it was a success. It took Clive and Whitney 2 years to work on her album, making sure the song selections were best to showcase her voice and grab people’s attention as she was a new artist. It was in 1985 when they released her debut album, called ‘Whitney Houston’. The album was a huge success and, hits on the album like “Saving all my love for you” and “How will I know” made her album reach the charts’ top.

Middle of her Career

Whitney was now a pop sensation, and and a household name. Whitney went on her first world tour in 1986, called ‘The Greatest Love World Tour’. Her huge success with her first album gained her this tour. This tour included her visiting places like Japan and Australia to perform. A year later in 1987 she released her second album tilted ‘Whitney’, this album went platinum. She also scored hits on this album like “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”. After the release and success of this album she went on another tour, ‘The Moment of Truth World Tour’. 

‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ is one of Whitney’s biggest and well-known hits. This became her fourth consecutive #1 hit in the U.S. while topping the charts in 13 other countries like Australia and the U.K. This song sold over 1 million copies, making it her first platinum single. She also earned a Grammy for this song for the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category.

‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go’ was released in February 1988, and the same time of its release debuted as number 47 on The Billboard Hot 100 Singles, but within just four weeks, it reached the Top 10 chart and was #1 by April of that year. This became Whitney’s 7th consecutive number one hit.

The Star Spangled Banner 1991

Whitney Houston performed ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ in Tampa, FL, at Super Bowl XXV in 1991. This is considered the best version of the Star-Spangled Banner ever and one of Whitney’s best performances. Many artists sing this at the beginning of public sports events like the Super Bowl. However, this specific performance of it by Whitney Houston is still talked about today because of how well she sang the song. After 9/11, in 2001, Arista Records released her version of the ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ Both Whitney and Arista Records donated their royalties to the firefighters and victims of the terrorist attack. After its release, it became #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100; she was the first recording artist to take the national anthem top 10 in the U.S. and have it certified platinum.

The Beginning of an Acting Career

Whitney’s career excelled even more as she had made the crossover to acting. She was very successful in her acting career landing roles alongside famous actresses and actors like Angela Bassett in ‘Waiting to Exhale’ and Denzel Washington in ‘The Preacher’s. Though her biggest role was when she was on a movie called ‘The Bodyguard’, released in 1992. This was her first acting role, and the movie was big hit. People fell in love with this movie and the soundtrack. The soundtrack had hits like ‘I will Always Love You’ and ‘I have Nothing’. ‘I Will Always Love You’ was Whitney’s biggest hit; which was a cover as it originally is Dolly Parton’s song. The Bodyguard soundtrack earned Whitney three Grammy’s. 

Late Career

In 2009 Whitney made a comeback to music after a long break; her last album before this was back in 2002. Over time Whitney had a break from music; There was suspected drug use as there were photos of her with dramatic weight loss and caught having strange behavior. In 2009 when she made her comeback to the music, she interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey show. This interview was highly anticipated; Whitney’s last interview before this was y years prior. Many people wondered if she was having drug problems over the years and planning on coming back to music. Whitney discussed drug use when talking to Oprah, admitting to it. She also mentioned her comeback album, ‘I Look To You.’ This album did incredibly well, being her first number one album since ‘The Bodyguard,’ and her first number-one studio album since her second album, ‘Whitney.’

Contemporaries

Whitney was not compared to many artists when it came to her exceptional vocal talent since many people considered her the best, and no one could come close to her talent. Though two artists, people would consider coming close to Whitney and being comparable was Céline Dion and Mariah Carey. Both of these artists also have fantastic vocal ability and are known for their vocal range.

Céline Dion

Céline Dion is a Canadian singer; she holds the title for the best-selling Canadian recording artist. However, she is also considered one of the best-selling artists of all time. She’s also still a very well respected and popular artist today. It was during the ’90s when she rose to fame after having several best-selling albums. Céline Dion’s vocal ability is impressive, with her being able to sing in low notes and go too high and still maintain a great sound. Some of her hits include ‘The Power of Love’ and ‘Because You Loved Me.’ She spoke about Whitney before in an interview with ‘Good Morning America.’ She spoke about always looking up to her and being inspired by Whitney. Dion even spoke on at a point wanting to sound like her and even look like her. She looked up to Whitney throughout her music career.

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey rose to fame in the ’90s, with her ability to make extremely high notes getting everyone’s attention. People around the world were in love and fascinated with her voice. She was the first artist in history to have their first five singles ever hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. She has received worldwide success and is still very popular today. At the beginning of her career in the ’90s, the media compared her to Whitney a lot, allegedly sparking a feud. This sparked rumors of a feud because the media were comparing Mariah, a new artist at the time, to Whitney, who was already singing for some time, had endless hits, won plenty of awards, and was already being considered the queen of pop. Over time, they shut down these rumors, and Whitney and Mariah came together and made a collaboration record, which was very successful, called ‘When You Believe.’

Influences

Whitney’s influences included her mother, Emily ‘Cissy’ Houston, her godmother Aretha Franklin, and her cousin Dionne Warwick. All of whom were successful singers, Whitney’s mother was a successful backup singer while Aretha was a big-time R&B and Soul recording artist, and Dionne was a successful solo artist. Early in her life, Whitney was first influenced by her mother as her she saw her mother singing growing up and was taught how to sing and perform herself by her mother. Though at the beginning of her starting her career, she was also influenced by her cousin Dionne Warwick who during her solo career was a very successful pop artist. She is ranked amongst the 40 biggest hitmakers during the times 1955 to 1999. Whitney was also influenced by her godmother Aretha Franklin, who is very well known for being referred to as the queen of soul.

Rewards

Holds title for most awarded female artist of all time in Guiness World Recrods 

She has 2 Emmy’s, 6 Grammy’s, 30 Billboard Music Awards, and a total of 415 career awards 

Most American Musoc Awards of any female solo artist, & tied with Michael Jackson for most AMA’s won in a single year, with them both having 8 wins 

Held the record for the most WMA’s won in a year, winning 5 at the World Music Awards in 1994

Her debut album is listed one of the 5oo greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine 

She’s one of the best selling recoding artist of all time, with over 200 million records sold worldwide

Social Involvement

Houston was involved with the United Negro College Fund and even formed a foundation for children. The foundation formed in 1989 called, ‘The Whitney Houston Foundation For CHildren.’ This foundation cared for homeless children and children with illnesses like cancer and AIDS. The foundation also helped prevent child abuse, teach children essential skills like reading, and build parks and playgrounds in the inner city. Whitney did much humanitarian work; she believed in helping the less fortunate since she was blessed to do so.

Conclusion

Whitney Houston tragically passed on February 11, 2012. Even though she has passed, Whitney’s legacy will live on forever. Before her passing, she had a fantastic career, having plenty of her albums going number one and breaking many records over her career. She also had considerable success in acting in movies such as ‘The Bodyguard’ and ‘Waiting to Exhale.’ Her music continues to be played across the world today, and she still holds records and continues to be on the charts. Whitney influenced many singers today like Céline Dion and many more. Her music and impact on the music industry and other artists will never be forgotten.

Discography

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Quotes & More From Whitney

“God gave me a voice to sing with, and when you have that, what other gimmick is there?”

-Whitney Houston 

“I like being a woman, even in a man’s world. After all, men can’t wear dresses, but we can wear the pants.” 

-Whitney Houston 

“I believe that children are our are future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they posses inside.” 

-Whitney Houston 

“Judge not for your flaws, but for your Triumphs.” 

-Whitney Houston 

Bibliography

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Whitney Houston.” Britannica , 10 Sept. 2020, www.britannica.com/biography/Whitney-Houston.

 

 

Leight, Elias. ‘Whitney’: 10 Things We Learned From New Whitney Houston Doc. 13 Aug. 2018, www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/whitney-10-things-we-learned-from-new-whitney-houston-doc-696195/.

 

 

Pareles, Jon, and Adam Nagourney. “Whitney Houston, Pop Superstar, Dies at 48.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 Feb. 2012, www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/arts/music/whitney-houston-dies.html.

 

 

Seal, Mark. “A Whitney Houston Investigation: The Long, Sad Road to Her Beverly Hilton Death.” Vanity Fair, June 2012, www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2012/06/whitney-houston-death-bathtub-drugs-rehab.

 

 

Sony Music Entertainment. Biography. 1 Sept. 2020, www.whitneyhouston.com/biography/.

 

 

Sony Music Entertainment. “Biography.” Whitney Houston Official Site, 1 Sept. 2020, www.whitneyhouston.com/biography/.

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