Whitney Houston life and biography

Whitney Houston picture, image, poster

Whitney Houston biography

Date of birth : 1963-08-09
Date of death : 2012-02-11
Birthplace : Newark, New Jersey, United States
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2010-08-09
Credited as : Soul/R&B singer, actres and former fashion model, 'The Bodyguard' soundtrack

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Whitney Houston is inarguably one of the of the biggest female pop stars of all time. Her accomplishments as a hitmaker are extraordinary; just to scratch the surface, she became the first artist ever to have seven consecutive singles hit number one, and her 1993 Dolly Parton cover "I Will Always Love You" became nothing less than the biggest hit single in rock history. Houston was able to handle big adult contemporary ballads, effervescent, stylish dance-pop, and slick urban contemporary soul with equal dexterity; the result was an across-the-board appeal that was matched by scant few artists of her era, and helped her become one of the first black artists to find success on MTV in Michael Jackson's wake. Like many of the original soul singers, Houston was trained in gospel before moving into secular music; over time, she developed a virtuosic singing style given over to swooping, flashy melodic embellishments. The shadow of Houston's prodigious technique still looms large over nearly every pop diva and smooth urban soul singer -- male or female -- in her wake, and spawned a legion of imitators (despite some critics' complaints about over-singing). Always more of a singles artist, Houston largely shied away from albums during the '90s, releasing the bulk of her most popular material on the soundtracks of films in which she appeared. By the end of the decade, she'd gone several years without a true blockbuster, yet her status as an icon was hardly diminished.

Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born in Newark, NJ, on August 9, 1963; her mother was gospel/R&B singer Cissy Houston, and her cousin was Dionne Warwick. By age 11, Houston was performing as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at her Baptist church; as a teenager, she began accompanying her mother in concert (as well as on the 1978 album Think It Over), and went on to back artists like Lou Rawls and Chaka Khan. Houston also pursued modeling and acting, appearing on the sitcoms Gimme a Break and Silver Spoons. Somewhat bizarrely, Houston's first recording as a featured vocalist was with Bill Laswell's experimental jazz-funk ensemble Material; their 1982 album One Down placed Houston alongside such unlikely avant-gardists as Archie Shepp and Fred Frith. The following year, Arista president Clive Davis heard Houston singing at a nightclub and offered her a record contract. Her first single appearance was a duet with Teddy Pendergrass, "Hold Me," which missed the Top 40 in 1984.

Houston's debut album, Whitney Houston, was released in March 1985. Its first single, "Someone for Me," was a flop, but the second try, "You Give Good Love," became Houston's first hit, topping the R&B charts and hitting number three pop. Houston's next three singles -- the Grammy-winning romantic ballad "Saving All My Love for You," the brightly danceable "How Will I Know," and the inspirational "The Greatest Love of All" -- all topped the pop charts, and a year to the month after its release, Whitney Houston hit number one on the album charts. It eventually sold over 13 million copies, making it the best-selling debut ever by a female artist. Houston cemented her superstar status on her next album, Whitney; despite the unimaginative title, it became the first album by a female artist to debut at number one, and sold over nine million copies. Its first four singles -- "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" (another Grammy winner), "Didn't We Almost Have It All," "So Emotional," and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" -- all hit number one, an amazing, record-setting run of seven straight (broken by "Love Will Save the Day"). In late 1988, Houston scored a Top Five hit with the non-LP single "One Moment in Time," recorded for an Olympics-themed compilation album.

Houston returned with her third album, I'm Your Baby Tonight, in 1990; a more urban-sounding, R&B-oriented record, it immediately spun off two number one hits in the title track and "All the Man That I Need." But the quality of the material was generally viewed as, overall, much weaker than her previous efforts, and following those two hits, sales of the album tapered off quickly, halting around four million copies. Nevertheless, Houston remained so popular that she could even take a recording of "The Star Spangled Banner" (performed at the Super Bowl) into the pop Top 20 -- though, of course, the Gulf War had something to do with that. In retrospect, the erratic quality of I'm Your Baby Tonight seemed to signal Houston's declining interest in making fully fleshed-out albums. Instead, she began to focus on an acting career, which she hadn't pursued since her teenage years; she also married singer Bobby Brown in the summer of 1992. Her first feature film, a romance with Kevin Costner called The Bodyguard, was released in late 1992; it performed well at the box office, helped by an ad campaign which seemingly centered around the climactic key change in Houston's soundtrack recording of the Dolly Parton-penned "I Will Always Love You." In fact, the ad campaign undoubtedly helped "I Will Always Love You" become the biggest single in pop music history. It set new records for sales (nearly five million copies) and weeks at number one (14), although those were later broken by Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" and Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men's "One Sweet Day," respectively. Meanwhile, the soundtrack eventually sold an astounding 16 million copies, and also won a Grammy for Album of the Year.

Once Houston had stopped raking in awards and touring the world, she prepared her next theatrical release, the female ensemble drama Waiting to Exhale. A few months before its release at the end of 1995, it was announced that she and Brown had split up; however, they called off the split just a couple months later, and rumors about their tempestuous relationship filled the tabloids for years to come. Waiting to Exhale was released toward the end of the year, and the first single from the soundtrack, "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)," topped the charts; the album sold over seven million copies. For her next project, Houston decided to return to her gospel roots; the soundtrack to the 1996 film The Preacher's Wife, which naturally featured Houston in the title role, was loaded with traditional and contemporary gospel songs, plus guest appearances by Houston's mother, Shirley Caesar, and the Georgia Mass Choir. Houston also began making headlines for what appeared to be increasing unreliability, cancelling several TV and concert appearances due to illness.

In 1998, Houston finally issued a new full-length album, My Love Is Your Love, her first in eight years. Houston worked with pop/smooth soul mainstays like Babyface and David Foster, but also recruited hip-hop stars like Missy Elliott, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Q-Tip. The album sold even fewer copies than I'm Your Baby Tonight, but it received Houston's most enthusiastic reviews in quite some time. Moreover, it produced one of her biggest R&B chart hits (seven weeks at number one) in the trio number "Heartbreak Hotel," done with Faith Evans and Kelly Price. She also duetted with Mariah Carey on "When You Believe," a song from the animated film The Prince of Egypt. Unfortunately, Houston was also back in the tabloids in early 2000; she was arrested in Hawaii when airline authorities reportedly found marijuana in her luggage (the charges were later dismissed). Speculation about Houston's personal life only grew when she was dropped from the Academy Awards telecast that March, officially because of a sore throat, but reputedly due to poor rehearsals and a generally out-of-it air. Later in the year, Arista released the two-disc compilation Greatest Hits, which actually featured one disc of hits and one of remixes; it also included new duets with Enrique Iglesias, George Michael, and Deborah Cox. It was also announced that Houston had signed a new deal with Arista worth $100 million, requiring six albums from the singer. Her personal issues became even more public through the reality television series Being Bobby Brown, and she eventually divorced her husband and went into intense rehabilitation. An album of new material was initially set for release by the end of 2007, but delays pushed it -- titled I Look to You, featuring collaborations with Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, R. Kelly, Akon, and Diane Warren -- back to September 2009.

After years of controversy and turmoil, Houston separated from Bobby Brown in September 2006, filing for divorce the next month. On February 1, 2007, Houston asked the court to fast track their divorce. The divorce was finalized on April 24, 2007, with Houston granted custody of the couple's daughter. Less than a month later, Brown sued Houston in Orange County, California court in an attempt to change the terms of their custody agreement. Brown also sought child and spousal support from Houston. In the lawsuit, Brown claimed that financial and emotional problems prevented him from properly responding to Houston's divorce petition. Brown lost at his court hearing as the judge dismissed his appeal to overrule the custody terms, leaving Houston with full custody and Brown with no spousal support.

In March 2007, Clive Davis of Arista Records announced that Houston would begin recording a new album. In October 2007, Arista released The Ultimate Collection. Houston released her new album, I Look To You, on August 31, 2009. The album's first two singles are "I Look To You" and "Million Dollar Bill". The album entered the Billboard 200 at #1, with Houston's best opening-week sales of 305,000 copies, marking Houston's first number one album since The Bodyguard , and Houston's first studio album to reach number one since 1987's Whitney. Houston gave her first interview in seven years, appearing on Oprah Winfrey's season premiere on September 14, 2009. The interview was billed as "the most anticipated music interview of the decade".


* 1974 Began singing at age 11 in her mother s choir (date approximate)
* 1978 Worked as a background vocalist for singers including Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls beginning at age 15 (date approximate)
* 1981 Appeared on the cover of several magazines at age 18; also sang a duet with Teddy Pendergrass, Hold Me (date approximate)
* 1983 Signed to a recording contract by Clive Davis of Arista Records at age 19
* 1985 Made professional solo performance debut at the New York nightclub, Sweetwater s
* 1985 Performed the song, Shock Me, for the film, Perfect
* 1985 Released debut album Whitney Houston ; the album sold over 13-million copies, making it the best-selling debut ever by a female artist
* 1986 Performed the song, The Greatest Love of All, for the film, School for Vandals
* 1987 Second album, Whitney, debuted at the top of the pop charts, the first time ever for a female solo act
* 1992 Made feature film acting debut in The Bodyguard, a romance with Kevin Costner; re-recorded the Dolly Parton song I Will Always Love You for the soundtrack
* 1995 Co-starred in the ensemble drama Waiting to Exhale, and contributed the single Exhale (Shoop Shoop) to the soundtrack
* 1995 Starred alongside Denzel Washington in The Preacher s Wife, and received Grammy Award nominations for the album s soundtrack, which featured traditional and contemporary gospel songs
* 1996 Houston Productions signed two-year non-exclusive first look deal with Touchstone Pictures
* 1997 Co-executive produced and starred in an updated TV remake of Rodgers and Hammerstein s Cinderella
* 1998 Collaborated with Mariah Carey on the single When You Believe for the animated film The Prince of Egypt
* 1998 Released My Love Is Your Love, her first album in eight years; collaborated with Missy Elliott, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Q-Tip
* 2000 Arrested in Hawaii when airline authorities reportedly found marijuana in her luggage (the charges were later dismissed)
* 2000 Dropped from the Academy Awards telecast, officially because of a sore throat, but reputedly due to poor rehearsals
* 2000 Released the two-disc compilation Greatest Hits, which featured one disc of hits and one of remixes; included duets with Enrique Iglesias, George Michael, and Deborah Cox
* 2001 Served as a producer of the Disney film The Princess Diaries
* 2001 Signed exclusive long-term contract with Arista Records worth a reported $100 million
* 2002 Admitted to Diane Sawyer on the ABC news program Primetime Live that she abused marijuana, cocaine and alcohol
* 2002 Sued for $100 million by her father s entertainment company for breech of contract; lawsuit later thrown out by a superior court judge
* 2004 Checks into a drug rehab center, but within a week she checks out
* 2005 Under orders from Fulton County probate court, Houston is taken to Crossroads, a drug rehabilitation clinic in Antigua, West Indies that was founded by Eric Clapton
* Formed Houston Productions

In 2009, Houston released her seventh studio album, I Look to You. On February 11, 2012, Houston was found dead at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, California, of causes not immediately known. According to TMZ, Houston was running late to get ready for a pre-Grammy party being held four floors down in the hotel by her mentor, Clive Davis.

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