Whitney Houston (9.8.1963 - 11.2.2012)
Whitney Houston is a multi-award winning American pop and soul singer, as well as an actress and former fashion model.
Whitney Houston: Childhood
Whitney Houston was raised in a poor area of Newark, New Jersey, by her father, John Houston and her mother Cissy Houston. Along with her mother, her cousins Dee Warwick and Dionne Warwick and her godmother, Aretha Franklin, Whitney is a notable figure in a number of genres, including pop, soul, gospel and rhythm and blues.
Following the Newark riots in 1967, the Houston family moved to West Orange, a more middle class part of New Jersey.
Whitney began performing at the age of 11, when she started to perform as a soloist at the New Hope Baptist Church's junior gospel choir. As a child, she was influenced by the music of Chaka Khan, Roberta Flack and Gladys Knight.
Whitney Houston: Music & Film Career
At the age of 14, Whitney Houston was the lead vocalist on the Michael Zager band's 'Life's A Party', then sang backing vocals on Chaka Khan's 'I'm Every Woman' (which would later become a massive solo hit for Whitney). She also sang backing vocals for Jermaine Jackson and Lou Rawls as well as taking on lead vocals on the album Paul Jabara and Friends: Featuring The Weather Girls, Leata Galloway & Whitney Houston.
Clive Davis, the head of Arista Records, was so impressed with a live performance of Whitney's, that he immediately offered her a worldwide recording contract. Whitney's self-titled debut album was released in 1985, with slow-burning global success. Both 'How Will I Know?' and 'Greatest Love Of All' became number one hits for Whitney Houston. At the time, it was the fastest selling debut album by a solo female, though Britney Spears has since taken that title.
Houston's second album, Whitney, was released in 1987 and featured four number one singles including 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)' and 'Didn't We Almost Have It All'. She became the second highest African-American entertainer in the US, after Bill Cosby.
Released in 1990, Whitney Houston's third album, I'm Your Baby Tonight had a more urban sound and featured Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Babyface and L.A. Reid.
In 1992, Whitney Houston starred in The Bodyguard, opposite Kevin Costner. The film was a massive global success, as was its soundtrack, which featured Whitney singing 'I Will Always Love You' (originally written and recorded by Dolly Parton). She was promptly ranked third behind Oprah Winfrey and Barbra Streisand in Forbes' list of top earning female entertainers.
Three years later, Whitney Houston starred opposite Loretta Devine, Lela Rochon and Angela Bassett in Waiting to Exhale. The soundtrack album featured Mary J. Blige, Brandy, Patti Labelle, Toni Braxton and Aretha Franklin.
In 1996, Houston starred in The Preacher's Wife, a comedy starring Denzel Washington and Courtney B. Vance. She went on to feature in an African-American remake of Cinderella, which starred Whoopi Goldberg and Bernadette Peters.
Whitney Houston returned to the recording studio with the release of My Love Is Your Love, in November 1998. The album was produced by Missy Elliott, Wyclef Jean and Rodney Jerkins and featured a duet with Mariah Carey, 'When You Believe' and another with Faith Evans and Kelly Price, 'Heartbreak Hotel'.
2002 saw the release of Whitney's fifth studio album, Just Whitney. Her husband at the time, Bobby Brown contributed to the production of the album.
Following years of speculation regarding her health, her marriage and possible drug use, Whitney Houston released a new album in August 2009. Entitled The Ultimate Collection, the album features the singles 'Million Dollar Bill' and 'I Look To You'. Whitney Houston performed live on UK TV, as a guest performer on an episode of X Factor, which is judged by Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Louis Walsh and Dannii Minogue.
Whitney Houston: Personal Life
Having previously been romantically linked to the actor Eddie Murphy and American Footballer Randall Cunningham, Whitney Houston went on to marry Bobby Brown. Their marriage ended in February 2007, when a divorce was finalized, amid years of speculation regarding abuse within the marriage and drug use by both parties.