Houston, Whitney


Houston, Whitney
▪ 1995

      By 1994 velvety-voiced vocalist Whitney Houston had seen seven consecutive singles reach the top of Billboard's Hot 100 chart and had accomplished more in a decade than most artists achieved in a lifetime. Her first three albums sold more than 40 million copies, and she scored a string of number one hits, beginning in 1985 with "Saving All My Love for You" and culminating in 1992 with "I Will Always Love You." By 1994 Houston had also garnered several American Music Awards and five Grammy awards, and she was presented with the trophy as the best-selling pop artist of the year at the Monte Carlo Music Awards festival.

      Whitney Houston was born on Aug. 9, 1963, in Newark, N.J. Her family included her cousin and professional singer Dionne Warwick and Whitney's mother and singing coach, Emily "Cissy" Houston, whose vocal group, the Sweet Inspirations, sang backup for Aretha Franklin. While still in high school, Houston served as a backup for Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls and modeled for fashion magazines. When she was 19, Houston showcased her soaring soprano voice at a New York City nightclub and was brought to the attention of Clive Davis, the president of Arista Records, Inc. After signing her to a recording contract, Davis groomed the gospel-based singer for crossover pop success. Her debut album, Whitney Houston (1985), yielded three number-one singles. She attracted a large following with love ballads, and the song "Greatest Love of All" became her signature.

      In 1992 Houston made her motion-picture debut in The Bodyguard, portraying a spoiled superstar who required protection when her life was threatened. Although critics gave the film lukewarm reviews, The Bodyguard was an enormous box office success and featured Houston's biggest hit to date, "I Will Always Love You." The song was originally written and recorded by Dolly Parton, but Houston's rendition stayed at number one longer than any other single had before—a record 14 weeks—and the sound track of the film sold more than 28 million copies. In September, when life began imitating art, Houston obtained a restraining order against a man accused of stalking her.

      In July 1992, just months prior to her film debut, Houston married hip-hop singer Bobby Brown. She gave birth to a daughter the following year. In 1994 Houston was featured in an AT&T ad campaign, and she launched a world tour during the last half of the year. She also considered such projects as producing a gospel album and appearing in remakes of Cinderella and A Star Is Born. (ANTHONY L. GREEN)

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▪ American singer and actress
born August 9, 1963, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
 
 American singer and actress whose first four albums, released between 1985 and 1992, amassed global sales in excess of 86 million copies.

      The daughter of Emily (“Cissy”) Houston—whose vocal group, the Sweet Inspirations, sang backup for Aretha Franklin (Franklin, Aretha)—and the cousin of singer Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston began singing in church as a child. While still in high school, she sang backup for Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls and modeled for fashion magazines. At age 19 she signed with Arista Records, whose president, Clive Davis, groomed the gospel (gospel music)-based singer for crossover pop success. Her debut album, Whitney Houston (1985), yielded three number one singles: "Greatest Love of All," which became her signature; "Saving All My Love for You" ; and "How Will I Know." Whitney (1987) delivered four more number ones. In 1992 she married singer Bobby Brown (divorced 2007) and made her motion-picture debut in The Bodyguard; the film featured her rendition of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You," which stayed at number one for 14 weeks. In the mid-1990s she continued acting in films such as Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher's Wife (1996), and the soundtrack of each film generated hit singles for her. In 1998 Houston released My Love Is Your Love, which did not sell as well as previous efforts but was praised by the critics. In 2000 she signed a new multi-album contract with Arista for $100 million.

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Universalium. 2010.

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