Whitney Houston, singer and actress, has sold close to 100 million albums worldwide during her lifetime. Her recognitions include two Emmy Awards, five Grammy Awards, 19 American Music Awards, five People’s Choice Awards, five Soul Train Awards, and seven NAACP Image Awards.
Houston was born in Newark, New Jersey on August 9, 1963. Her mother, Cissy Houston was a nightclub performer and recording artist. Her father, John, was an aspiring singer who later managed his wife’s career. Whitney’s extended family and close friends included a number of prominent entertainers. Dionne Warwick was her first cousin, and Aretha Franklin was her godmother. She also counted Roberta Flack and Gladys Knight among close family friends.
Houston started singing at age five at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark where her mother was music director. She performed her first solo in the church when she was eleven. That performance persuaded both Whitney and her mother that the young soloist should become a professional singer.
As a teen, Whitney was able to fine tune her stage presence when she was allowed to perform on tour with Cissy Houston in the 1970s. Her parents however encouraged her to stay in school and would not allow her to launch a professional singing career until she graduated from high school in 1981.
In 1985 21-year-old Houston released her first album, Whitney Houston. It sold 20 million copies worldwide and became the biggest debut album in history at that time. Her 1987 album, Whitney, broke the record for the most consecutive number one singles.
Houston married fellow entertainer Bobby Brown in 1992. Their daughter Bobbi Kristina was born in 1993. The marriage lasted 16 years despite public rumors about discord between the couple, several miscarriages and time both spent in rehab for drug and alcohol related issues.
Houston contributed both time and money to charities that support AIDS research, black colleges and veterans. In 1989 she formed the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children.
With over 170 million combined album, singles and videos sold worldwide Whitney Houston has established a benchmark for superstardom that will quite simply never be eclipsed in the modern era. She is a singer’s singer who has influenced countless other vocalists female and male.
Music historians cite Whitney’s record-setting achievements: the only artist to chart seven consecutive #1 Billboard Hot 100 hits (“Saving All My Love For You,” “How Will I Know,” “Greatest Love Of All,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” “So Emotional,” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”); the first female artist to enter the Billboard 200 album chart at #1 (her second album, Whitney, 1987); and the only artist with seven consecutive multi-platinum albums (Whitney Houston, Whitney, I’m Your Baby Tonight, The Bodyguard, Waiting To Exhale, and The Preacher’s Wife soundtracks, and My Love Is Your Love).
In fact, The Bodyguard soundtrack is one of the top 10 biggest-selling albums of all-time.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Whitney Houston was the most awarded female artist of all time with an astounding 415 career awards as of 2010.
Whitney Houston died on February 11, 2012, in Los Angeles. According to a report released by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office on March 22, 2012, the official cause of her death was accidental drowning.