Whitney Elizabeth Houston (born August 9, 1963 – died February 11th 2012) is an American pop and R&B singer and actress.
Houston has also been a film producer, songwriter and former fashion model.
Houston’s debut album was released in 1985 to considerable critical and commercial success, and within the next three years she released a record seven consecutive number-one hits on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, a record that still has been unbroken. She was one of a handful of African-American artists who received heavy rotation on MTV during the network’s early years in the 1980s.
Houston continued her success in the 1990s with the release of several films and their corresponding soundtrack albums, the most popular of which was The Bodyguard (1992), which became one of the best-selling albums of all time and produced her hit signature song “I Will Always Love You” (a cover of Dolly Parton’s original).
Her record sales during the next decade were modest, and her personal life became the subject of controversy because of allegations of drug abuse. Houston has sold over 120 million albums and 50 million singles
Houston was born in Newark, New Jersey to John and Cissy Houston. She was born and raised Baptist but also exposed to the Pentecostal church. She attended a Catholic high school.
Houston’s mother, first cousin (Dionne Warwick) and godmother (Aretha Franklin) were all notable figures in the music industry for their gospel, rhythm and blues and soul music recordings. At the age of eleven, Houston began to follow in their footsteps and started performing as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at the New Hope Baptist church in Newark, New Jersey.
Houston had been offered several record deals (from Michael Zager in 1980, and Elektra Records in 1981) and in 1983 an A&R representative from Arista saw Houston performing with her mother in a nightclub in New York City. Clive Davis saw Houston and offered her a worldwide-contract, which Houston signed.
Her debut album took over two years to complete, as the team searched for songs to complement her voice. Houston’s first taste of commercial success was with “Hold Me”, a duet with Teddy Pendergrass (which first appeared on his album, Love Language) which peaked into the top fifty on the U.S. pop chart and the top five of the R&B chart.
Houston’s self-titled 1985 debut album was initially a slow seller, until the success of its single “You Give Good Love”. That single gave Houston her first top five hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Follow-up singles “Saving All My Love for You”, “How Will I Know” and “Greatest Love of All” all went to number one on the pop charts, and Whitney Houston eventually topped the album charts. The album went on to sell twenty-four million copies worldwide (with over thirteen million copies being sold in the U.S. alone), making it the best-selling debut album ever by a female artist at its time of release. Her first worldwide tour, “The Greatest Love Tour”, took place in 1986.
Houston’s second album, Whitney (1987), debuted at number one in the U.S. and the UK, the first album by a female artist to do so. It eventually went on to sell over nineteen million copies worldwide (with over nine million copies being sold in the U.S. alone). The singles “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, “So Emotional” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” brought her total of consecutive Hot 100 number-one hits to seven, breaking a record previously shared by The Beatles and The Bee Gees (with six).
Houston embarked on the worldwide “The Moment of Truth” tour. She also recorded the the theme song to 1988 Olympics, “One Moment in Time”, which peaked at number five in the U.S. and reached number one in the UK.
Houston’s third album I’m Your Baby Tonight (1990) featured collaborations with Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross and reached number three on the U.S. Billboard 200. It did not sell as well as her first two albums, but sold quite well with twelve million copies sold worldwide (four million of those in the U.S.).The first two singles, “I’m Your Baby Tonight” and “All the Man That I Need” went to number one in the U.S., and “Miracle” went top ten peaking at number nine. “My Name Is Not Susan” was a top twenty hit. Another song, “I Belong to You” went top ten on the R&B chart.
Houston embarked on the “I’m Your Baby Tonight” world tour in 1991. The tour was voted “Worst Tour Of The Year” by Rolling Stone poll voters (Rolling Stone Magazine December 1991) and had poor attendance records in over half of the venues.
Her performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXV in January 1991 was released as a single and reached the top twenty of the U.S. charts, and all proceeds went to the American Red Cross. Her concert at Norfolk, Virginia as she welcomed back U.S. troops returning from the Gulf War received high ratings on HBO.