One of the “Greatest Voices” of our time, the one and only Whitney Houston

Compiled by Radhiya Juma.


Paying Tribute To The Great Whitney Houston

With the passing of Whitney Houston, the world lost a graceful, angelic voice unmatched in the world today! She was and is a singer’s singer who has influenced countless other vocalists female and male.In a short life span, Whitney Houston sold over 170 million combined album, singles & videos worldwide establishing a benchmark for superstardom that will quite simply never be eclipsed in the modern era.

Whitney’s Early Years


Born into a musical family on August 9, 1963, in Newark, New Jersey, Whitney’s success might have been foretold. Her mother Cissy Houston, cousins Dee Dee WarwickDionne Warwick and godmother Aretha Franklin were all legendary figures in American gospel and Soul Music.Whitney’s mother and cousins nurtured her passion for gospel music since birth.


At the age of 11, Houston started performing as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where she also learned to play the piano.As a teenager, Whitney was already singing on the scene in New York and at the tender age of 14, shebecame a backup singer on the Michael Zager Band‘s single “Life’s a Party.”Zager offered her a recording contact, but her mother Cissy rejected the offer, wanting Whitney to finish school first.

At 15, Whitney Houston sang background vocals on Chaka Khan‘s smash “I’m Every Woman”—the jam she later turned into a monster hit for herself on the acclaimed soundtrack album to The Bodyguard. Around the same time, Whitney was discovered by a photographer who was awed by her natural beauty. She soon became an extremely sought-after teenage model, one of the first African American women to appear on the cover of Seventeen magazine. But music remained her true love.

When she was 19, Whitney Houston was discovered in a nightclub by the renowned Clive Davis of Arista Records, who signed her immediately  offeringHouston a worldwide recording contract. Whitney and Davis spent the next two years working on her debut album, finding the best producers and songwriters available to showcase her amazing vocal talent.Clive Davisliterally took over the helm of Whitney’s career as she navigated from Gospel to Pop Stardom.


Celebrating The Musical Legacy Of Whitney Houston


Onreflecting &celebratingWhitney’s brilliant musicalcareer, I will attempt to give tribute to this great DIVA by taking you through a journey of some of her greatest songs which still live in all our hearts today. Many of these songs hold our fondest memories while some of them have been known to move us all to tears.

How Will I Know

Two years went into the making of her Debut Album, but the results were worth it. OnFebruary 14, 1985, At the age of 22, Whitney’s self-titled debut album “WHITNEY HOUSTON was released. Her single “How Will I Know” hit number one and its video introduced Whitney to the MTV generation, making her the first African-American female artist to receive consistent heavy rotation on MTV.

Saving All My Love For You

When Whitney released her Debut AlbumWhitney Houston, she almost immediately became a smash pop sensation. Over the next year, her hit singles “Saving All My Love for You” and “How Will I Know”helped the album reach the top of the charts, where it stayed for 14 non-consecutive weeks.

The Greatest Love Of All

The self-titled “Whitney Houston” Album had a string of hits including “You Give Good Love” and three consecutive #1 singles,the Grammy-winning “Saving All My Love For You,” “How Will I Know,” and “The Greatest Love of All,” which has become a Veritable Anthem.

In 1986 Whitney’s album hit No. 1 on Billboard’s year-end charts, making her the first female artist to earn that distinction. Her debut disc also won her a Grammy and was dubbed the Best Album of 1986 by Rolling Stone.Not only did this debut album establish Whitney as an important new recording artist, but it went on to sell over 12 million copies in the U.S., plus many millions more abroad. This LP set the record as the biggest selling debut album by a solo artist.

I Wanna Dance With Somebody

InJune 1987, Whitney Houston followed the monumental success of her first album with a Second release,WHITNEYandshe made history as the first female artist to enter the Billboard album charts at #1

I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” is the first single from this album.It was produced by Narada Michael Walden, and written by George Merrilland Shannon Rubicam. The original arrangement of I Wanna Dance with Somebody was more of a country tune, but was transformed by Walden to make it a dance song. This song won Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 30th Grammy Awards. The single topped the charts in 13 countries including Australia, Germany & the UK.In the US, it became her fourth consecutive number one single and sold over one million copies, making it her biggest hit in that country at the time. It was eventually surpassed by her version of “I Will Always Love You.”

Didnt We Almost Have It All

The New Album soared past 9x-platinum on the strength of four #1 chart-toppers, the Grammy-winningSecond Single “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),””So Emotional,” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go.” This established Whitney as the only artist ever to have seven consecutive #1 hits, surpassing a record previously set by the Beatles and the Bee Gees


Where Do Broken Hearts Go

Where Do Broken Hearts Go” is the Fourth Single from Whitneys Houston’s Second Album, WHITNEY. The ballad was released in February 1988. It became a number one hit, Houston’s seventh consecutive one at#1 on Billboard Hot 100 hits

One Moment In Time

One Moment in Time” is a worldwide hit Emmy Award winningsong recorded by Whitney Houston  and it appeared on the album 1988 Summer Olympics Album: One Moment in Time. The song’s melody was inspired by the timeless figure of Elvis Presley. The track is an anthem for believing in yourself against all odds. In addition to Whitney Houston singing it live at the main ceremony, there’s a video for the song showing a basic collage of clips from previous Olympic ceremonies. 

The Star-Spangled Banner

On January  27 1991 Houston performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXV. Due to the success of her rendition, it was released as a commercial single and it reached the Top 20 on the US Hot 100, making Houston the only act to turn the National Anthem into a pop hit.

I Will Always Love You

By 1992, Whitney Houston was on top of the world and she took her voice and movie star looks to the big screen and made her movie debut in The Bodyguard, which became a huge success grossing over $120 million.

“I Will Always Love You,” the first single release, from  the The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Albumbecame the biggest selling commercial single in history, and had Grammys for Record Of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal. “I will Always Love you” became Whitney’s career-defining version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” and is the biggest-selling U.S. single of all-time (at 4x-platinum). Three other singles from this album, “I’m Every Woman,” “I Have Nothing,” and “Run To You,” were also major international hits for Whitney. The Bodyguard soundtrack album, featuring six Whitney Houston songs in all, has sold more than 42 million copies worldwide. At 17-times platinum in the U.S., it is the biggest selling motion picture soundtrack album in history, ahead of Saturday Night Fever, Forrest Gump, Titanic…..

I Am Your Baby Tonight

I Am Your Baby Tonightis the lead single and title track from Whitney’sThird Best-Selling Album. This album displayed her versatility on a new batch of tough rhythmic grooves, soulful ballads and up-tempo dance tracks. Houston was nominated for “Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female” with this track at the 33rd Grammy Awards in 1991. With back-to-back #1 hits for the title tune and “All the Man That I Need,” followed by “Miracle” and “My Name Is Not Susan.”The album became an international multi-platinum best-seller.

All The Man That I Need

All the Man That I Need” is a #1 hit single from Whitney’s Third Album.This song was written by American songwriters Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore. The song was first recorded as “All The Man I Need” by Linda Clifford. Whitney’s version featured production from Narada Michael Walden and the single became a major worldwide hit.

“Exhale (Shoop Shoop)”

Whitney continued Film work with the release of Waiting to Exhale: Original Soundtrack Album released on November 14, 1995. The lead Single “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” was written and produced by Babyface. The album remained at number one on the US Billboard 200 album chart for five weeks and Top R&B Albums chart for ten weeks, going 7× platinum, on Sep 4, 1996. It spawned the #1 hits; “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” and “Let It Flow”, the #2 hits “Sittin’ Up in My Room” and “Not Gon’ Cry” and the #8 hit “Count on Me”.

The soundtrack became a huge hit featuring appearances by some of the biggest names in the industry including Whitney Houston, Brandy, Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Faith Evans, Patti LaBelle, SWV and TLC. The album received a total of eleven nominations including  Album of the YearSong of the Year for “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)and three Best Female R&B Vocal Performance nominees, then won Best R&B Song for “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” at the 39th Grammy Awards in 1997.


When You Believe

In 1998, Whitney collaborated with Mariah Carey in the animated film The Prince of Egypt and produced a single, “When You Believe,” which won an Academy Award. This single appeared in Whitney’s FourthAlbumMy Love Is Your Love”, her first non-soundtrack studio album in many years, and it earned her another Grammy but could not top the chart performance of her previous albums.

One Wish

Every artist’s first Christmas collection is a special career landmark, and Whitney’s first and only Holiday Albumreleased in November 2003, was no exception. The album featured the single “One Wish (for Christmas)”, which reached the top twenty on Billboard‘s U.S. Adult Contemporary chart. The album spent six weeks on the Billboard 200 .”The Centerpiece was Whitney’s 10-year old daughter Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown’s recording debut on “Little Drummer Boy.”

The album also re-uses “Joy to the World” and “Who Would Imagine a King” from 1996’s The Preacher’s Wife: Original Soundtrack Albumwhich was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Musical orComedy Score. The film was nominated for five Image Awards, including Outstanding Motion Picture, and won two — for Best Actress (Whitney Houston) and Best Supporting Actress (Loretta Devine).

Whitney’s Personal Life & Struggles


As much as Whitney’s music career was legendary, her personal life was equally tremulous

In 1989 Whitney met R&B singer Bobby Brown at the Soul Train Music Awards.She married him in 1992 after a three-year engagement kicking off a rollercoaster marriage that lasted 14 years.

At first the marriage was passionate and loving, but things turned sour as the decade progressed and her life became very complicated very quickly.In spite of these growing personal troubles, Whitney Houston continued to progress in her career, crossing over successfully into acting in 1992 by starringin the wildly popular movie, The Bodyguard. With this movie, she set a trend for her films to follow: in each film she also released a hit single. In 1993 Whitney embarked on a worldwide tour and gave birth to her and Bobby Brown’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown. 

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Houston’s increasingly rocky marriage andstruggles with drugs &health problems threatened to derail her career. Several concert cancellations and a notorious TV interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002 in which Houston appeared far too thin and in very poor health led many people to speculate that she was on the verge of a breakdown.


Whitney’s Comeback

Over the next few years, Houston attempted to repair her marriage and to break her drug habit, but after several relapses, her mother, Cissy, had to step in. Whitney took a break from her career, divorced Bobby Brown in 2007, and won sole custody of their child, Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown.

After almost a decade of struggling with her personal life, Houston pulled herself together and released a new album, I Look To You, in 2009.The recording received a warm welcome from music fans, climbing to the top of album charts.

2011 was a bounceback year for Whitney Houston. She worked on a new musical filmSparkle with Jordin Sparks, a remake of the 1976 movie about an all-girl musical group similar to the Supremes. She had reportedly been approached to join the singing competition The X Factor as a judge.

Unfortunately, Houston did not live long enough to see the latest comeback reach fruition.Whitney Houston died on February 11, 2012 at the age of 48, in Los Angeles. Houston had been seen out in the days before her death, including at one of the pre-Grammy Award parties. The official cause of her death was accidental drowning. The effects of heart disease and cocaine found in her system were contributing factors.

Whitney’s Legacy


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).

The Guinness Book of World Records lists Whitney as music’s “Most awarded female artist of all time.” She left us with a Legacy of an amazing tally of 411 awards (as of 2006).With her passing, the music world has lost one of its most legendary stars”


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