Known for some of the most iconic songs in the history of all music, Whitney Houston was a renowned singer and superstar during her lifetime. As an American singer and actress, she was given the iconic nickname ‘The Voice’, and became one of the best-selling artists, with Rolling Stones naming her as the second-greatest singer of all time, narrowly missing out on first place to Aretha Franklin.
Wherever she may be placed in the charts of all-time greatest singers, Whitney Houston will forever be known as a legend across the world.
Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born on August 9th, 1963, in Newark, New Jersey, with a name destined for stardom. Not only that but it appeared as though the talent ran deep within the family already; Emily Cissy, her mother, was a Grammy-winning gospel and soul singer.
Her family have an interesting history on her mother’s side, with distant relations to both Dutch and Native American ancestry. Whitney was also a first cousin of two well-known singers Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick, as well as apparently being a distant cousin to Leontyne Price.
On her father’s side, Houston’s great-great-grandfather, Jeremiah Burke Sanderson, was an American abolitionist who was known for advocating for the civil rights and educational rights of Black Americans during the mid-1800s.
As a child, Houston began singing in church, where her talents were first spotted. She would join the church choir of the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark at the tender age of five. And it certainly didn’t hurt to have a singer already in the family, as Whitney was taught to sing during her teenage years by her own mother!
Whitney recorded three demos of gospel music in the hopes of getting signed to a recording deal, and in the years between 1971 to 1981, she was sought-after for record deals from the likes of Luther Vandross, Bruce Lundvall, and Michael Zagar. Tara Productions would eventually be the lucky record label to sign her up, just weeks after her graduation. What a graduation present! Her appearance on a track by the band Material raised her profile considerably, and she was eventually offered a worldwide record deal.
Her debut album, ‘Whitney Houston’, was released on Valentine’s Day in 1985, and stayed on the Billboard 200 for more than three years thanks to songs such as ‘Saving All My Love for You’, ‘How Will I Know’ and ‘Greatest Love Of All’, to name but a few.
Over the course of her career, Houston won two Emmys, eight Grammy Awards, fourteen World Music Awards, a staggering sixteen Billboard Music Awards, and twenty-two American Music Awards. In fact, she currently holds the record for the most American Music Awards received in a single year.
The Death of Whitney Houston
Sadly, after falling unconscious in a bathtub and drowning, Whitney Houston passed away on February 11th, 2012, with many across the industry shocked at the news, though her music and memory live on amongst her family, friends, and millions of fans.