Download all Whitney Houston Songs
Known across the pop culture spectrum as the “Queen of Pop” and “The Voice” for her mezzo-soprano octave, Whitney Elizabeth Houston left an indelible impression upon pop culture. She is one of the most successful artists of all time, with more than 200 million albums sold worldwide.
Born August 9, 1963, Houston grew up singing as part of the gospel choir at her local church. She was surrounded by powerful voices in her own family (mother Cissy Houston, cousin Dionne Warwick, godmother Darlene Love, honorary aunt Aretha Franklin). After working as a model and commercial actress in the early 1980s, Whitney was discovered during a New York City nightclub performance, which led to her signing a contract with Clive Davis at Arista Records. Whitney’s first song was a duet in 1984 with Teddy Pendergrass on “Hold Me.”
She released her self-titled début album the following year, which catapulted her into superstardom as the album topped the Billboard 200 for 14 non-consecutive weeks before becoming the top-selling album of 1986, eventually achieving diamond status in the US and selling over 22 million copies worldwide. The singles “Saving All My Love For You,” “How Will I Know,” and “Greatest Love of All” topped the Billboard Hot 100 and achieved platinum status. The music video for “How Will I Know” received heavy rotation on MTV, which was uncommon for Black women at the time. She took home the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Grammy Award for “Saving” in 1986; her performance at the Grammys of “Saving” later won her an Emmy award. She also won seven American Music Awards between 1986 and 1987.
1987’s Whitney only furthered her initial success. The album produced four more consecutive #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100–“I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” “So Emotional,” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”–giving her a record seven consecutive #1 pop singles. She won another Grammy Award in the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category for “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” which was an international hit, topping the pop charts in several countries as the album sold over 20 million copies worldwide.
While gaining the status as a “pop princess,” Whitney faced some criticism from the Black community, so she decided to work with producers L.A. Reid and Babyface on her third album, I’m Your Baby Tonight, which yielded two more #1 pop hits: “I’m Your Baby Tonight” and “All the Man That I Need.” In 1991, at Super Bowl XXV, Houston delivered arguably the greatest performance of the Star-Spangled Banner. The performance was sentimental as it occurred in the midst of the Persian Gulf War and a commercial single of the performance was produced, which reached the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 as the single’s proceeds were donated to the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund.
In 1992, Houston married R&B singer Bobby Brown and gave birth to their daughter Bobbi Kristina the following year. Whitney also pushed into the film industry in 1992 with her film The Bodyguard, which co-starred Kevin Costner. The film was a resounding success at the box office and its soundtrack–which featured Whitney’s signature song “I Will Always Love You”–sold 44 million units worldwide and brought Houston three Grammy awards, including Album of the Year.
In 1995, Houston starred in the film Waiting to Exhale with three other prominent black women, opening doors in the film industry for women of color. The Babyface-produced soundtrack was highly successful, giving her another #1 pop hit with the single “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)”. She also appeared in the movies The Preacher’s Wife and a revised version of Cinderella with singer Brandy.
Houston’s fourth album, My Love Is Your Love, was released in 1998 after an eight-year break from her previous studio album. In 1999, Whitney won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for her duet with Mariah Carey on the song “When You Believe” from The Prince of Egypt. Whitney would go on to release three more albums: Just Whitney (2002), One Wish: The Holiday Album (2003), and I Look to You (2009).
On February 11, 2012, Houston tragically passed away at the Beverly Hills Hotel days before the Grammy Awards ceremony, sending shockwaves through the general public and music community. She is one of the most celebrated artists in music history and awarded female entertainer of all time, winning over 400 awards, and acknowledged as a major influence on many R&B and pop singers who followed her.