Whitney Elizabeth Houston (born on August 9, 1963 in Newark, New Jersey) was a female singer, actress, producer and model.
She was cited in the 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the "most awarded female act of all time."
She was one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 170 million albums, singles and videos worldwide.
Her six studio albums, three movie soundtracksand one holiday album have been certified diamond, multi-platinum, platinum and gold.
Whitney was born to John Russell Houston Jr., an Army serviceman and entertainment executive and gospel singer Cissy Houston.
She has two older brothers, Gary Garland and Michael Houston.
Her cousins were Dionne Warwick & Dee Dee Warwick, her godmother was Darlene Love, and her honorary aunt was Aretha Franklin. She met Aretha when she was about 8 or 9 years old when her mother took her to a recording studio.
Whitney was raised a Baptist, but was also exposed to the Pentecostal church. After the 1967 Newark riots, she & her family moved to a middle-class area in East Orange, New Jersey at the age of four.
When Whitney was 11 years old, she started performing as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark where she also learned to play piano.
When Whitney was a teenager, she attended Mount Saint Dominic Academy, a Catholic girls' high school in Caldwell, New Jersey.
At the school, she met her best friend, Robyn Crawford, whom she described as the "sister she never had."
During her school years, Cissy continued to teach Whitney how to sing.
Whitney was exposed to the music of Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight and Roberta Flack, who would have an influence on her as a singer and performer.
Whitney spent some of her teen years touring nightclubs where Cissy was performing and would occasionally get on stage and perform with her.
In 1977, 14-year-old Whitney became a backup singer on the Michael Zager Band's single, "Life's a Party." She also sang backup vocals on Jermaine Jackson and Lou Rawls' albums.
In the early 80s, Whitney started working as a fashion model after a photographer saw her singing at Carnegie Hall with her mother.
She appeared in Seventeen magazine, becoming one of the first women of color to appear on the cover of the magazine.
She also appeared in layouts in the pages of Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Young Miss magazines. She also appeared in a Canada Dry soft drink television commercial.
While modeling, Whitney continued her recording career working with music producers Michael Beinhorn, Bill Laswell and Martin Bisi on an album they were spearheading called "One Down" which was credited to the music group, Material. She contributed the song "Memories" to the project.
In 1983, Whitney appeared on the Paul Jabara album, "Paul Jabara and Friends" on the track "Eternal Love."
Whitney was offered several recording agencies, but Cissy declined the offers, stating that she must finish high school first.
In 1983, Arista Records A&R representative, Gerry Griffith saw Whitney performing with Cissy in a New York City nightclub and was impressed.
He was able to convnce the head of Arista Records, Clive Davis to make time to see Whitney perform.
Clive was also impressed and offered Whitney a worldwide record contract which Whitney signed.
During that same year, Whitney made her first national televised debut with Clive on "The Merv Griffin Show."
In 1983, Whitney signed to Arista Records, but didn't begin working on her album right away because the label wanted to make sure that no other record label signed her away.
Clive wanted to ensure that he had the right material and producers for Whitney's debut album. Some music producers had to pass on the project due to prior commitments.
Whitney first recorded a duet with singer Teddy Pendergrass called "Hold Me" which appeared on his 1984 album "Love Language." The single gave Whitney her first taste of success.
Rise to FameEdit
Whitney's self-titled debut album was released in February of 1985. Rolling Stone Magazine praised Whitney, calling her "one of the most exciting new voices in years."
The New York Times called the album "an impressive, musically conservative showcase for an exceptional vocal talent."
Arista Records promoted Whitney's first album with three different singles in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other European countries.
In the United States, "You Give Good Love" was chosen as the lead single from Whitney's debut album to establish her in the black marketplace.
Outside of the United States, the song failed to make any impact on the charts, but in the United States, it gave the album its first major hit, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the R&B chart.
Because of that, the album began to strongly sell and Whitney continued promotion by touring nightclubs in the United States and performing on late-night TV talk shows which wasn't usually accessable to unestablished black music acts.
The next single "Saving All My Love for You" became Whitney's first number one single in the United States and the United Kingdom.
She was also an opening act for R&B singer, Jeffrey Osborne on his nationwide tour.
"Thinking About You" was released as a promotional single to R&B-oriented radio stations. It managed to peak at #10 on the R&B chart.
During the 80s, MTV received harsh criticism for not playing enough music videos by black, Latino or other racial minorities while favoring white music acts.
The third single "How Will I Know" topped the Billboard Hot 100 and introduced Whitney to the MTV audience thanks to the music video.
Her subsequent singles from her debut and future albums would make Whitney the first African-American female artist to receive heavy rotation on MTV.
By 1986 (a year after its release), Whitney's self-titled debut albumtoppedtheBillboard 200 and stayed there for 14 non-consecutive weeks.
The last single from the album "Greatest Love of All" became Whitney's biggest hit at the time, topping the Billboard Hot 100, staying there for 3 weeks which made Whitney the first album by a female artist to score three number one hits.
Whitney was the number one artist of the year and the album was the number one album of the year on the 1986 Billboard year-end charts, making her the first female artist to earn that distinction. She embarked on her first world tour, Greatest Love Tour.
The album was certified 13x platinum (diamond) in the United States alone and has sold a total of 25 million copies worldwide.
At the 1986 Grammy Awards, Whitney was nominated for three awards including "Album of the Year."
She wasn't eligble for the "Best New Artist" category due to her previous hit duet with Teddy Pendergrass in 1984.
Whitney won her first Grammy Award for "Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female" for "Saving All My Love For You."
Her performance of the song during the Grammy telecast earned her an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program."
In 1986 and 1987, Whitney won seven American Music Awards in total and an MTV Video Music Award.
The popularity of the album would also carry over to the 1987 Grammy Awards when "Greatest Love of All" received a "Record of the Year" nomination.
Following Whitney's breakthrough, the doors were opened for other female African-American singers such as Anita Baker and Janet Jackson to find notable success in popular music and on MTV.
Whitney's sophomore album, "Whitney" was released in June of 1987.
The album featured production from not only Michael Masser, Kashif and Narada Michael Walden, but from producer Jellybean Benitez as well.
Many critics complained that the material was too similiar to her debut album. Despite that, the album received commercial success.
Whitney became the first female artist in history to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 and the first artist to enter the albums chart in the United States and the United Kingdom at #1 while also hitting #1 or the top ten in dozens of other countries around the world.
The first single from the album "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" became a massive hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the singles chart in countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
The next three singles from the album: "Didn't We Almost Have It All," "So Emotional" and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" all topped the Billboard Hot 100, giving Whitney a total of seven consecutive number one hits, breaking the record of six by the Beatles and the Bee Gees.
Whitney became the first female artist to generate four number one singles from one album.
The album was certified 9x Platinum in the United States, for shipments of over 9 million copies and selling a total of 20 million copies worldwide.
In 1988 at the 30th Grammy Awards, Whitney was nominated for three awards, including "Album of the Year" and winning her second Grammy for "Best Pop Vocal Performance" for "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)."
She also won two American Music Awards in 1988 and 1989 respectively and a Soul Train Music Award.
Following the release of the album, Whitney embarked on the Moment of Truth World Tour which was one of the 10 highest grossing concert tours of 1987.
The success of the tours during 1986-1987 and her two studio albums ranked Whitney at #8 for the highest-earning entertainers list according to Forbes Magazine.
She was the highest-earning African-American women overall and the third highest entertainer after Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby.
Nelson Mandela\1988 Summer OlympicsEdit
Whitney was a supporter of Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement.
During her modeling career, she refused to work with any agencies who did business with the then-apartheid South Africa.
On June 11, 1988, during the European leg of her tour, Whitney joined other musicians to perform a set at Wembley Stadium in London to celebrate a then-imprisoned Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday in which over 72,000 people attended and over a billion people tuned in worldwide as the concert raised over $1 million for charities while bringing awareness to apartheid.
After that, Whitney flew back to the United States for a benefit concert at New York City's Madison Square Garden in August that raised a quarter of a million dollars for the United Negro College Fund.
During that same year, Whitney recorded a song for NBC's coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics entitled "One Moment in Time" which topped the charts in the United Kindom and became a top 5 hit in the United States.
Accused of "Selling Out"Edit
In 1989, Whitney formed a non-profit organization called the Whitney Houston Foundation For Children that has raised funds for the needs of children around the world, homelessness, children with cancer or AIDS, and other issues of self-empowerment.
She was an international crossover superstar and appealed to all demographics, but some black critics believed that she was "selling out" and felt that her singing on record lacked the soul that was present during her live concert performances.
At the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards, a few people in the audience jeered when Whitney's name was called out for a nomination.
Whitney defended herself against the criticism, stating:
"If you're gonna have a long career, there's a certain way to do it, and I did it that way. I'm not ashamed of it."
I'm Your Baby TonightEdit
Whitney's third album, "I'm Your Baby Tonight" was released in November of 1990.
She took more of an urban direction with the album and it featured productions & collaborations with L.A. Reid, Babyface, Luther Vandross, and Stevie Wonder.
The album showed Whitney's versatility on a new batch of tough rhythmic grooves, soulful ballads, and up-tempo dance tracks. Reviews for the album were mixed.
Rolling Stone felt the album was her "best and most integrated album" while Entertainment Weekly thought that Whitney's shift towards an urban direction was "superficial."
The first two singles: "I'm Your Baby Tonight" and "All the Man That I Need" topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, "Miracle" peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and "My Name is Not Susan" peaked in the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100.
"I Belong to You" managed to reach the top 10 of the R&B chart in the United States and gained Whitney a Grammy nomination.
The sixth single, "We Didn't Know" featuring Stevie Wonder, peaked in the R&B top 20.
The album peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 and was certified 4x Platinum in the United States, selling 12 million worldwide.
The Star Spangled BannerEdit
In 1990, Whitney was the spokesperson for a youth leadership conference hosted in Washington D.C. and had a private audience with then President George H.W. Bush in the Oval Office to discuss the associated challenges.
With America entangled in the Persian Gulf War at the time, Whitney performed "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl XXV at the Tampa Stadium on January 21, 1991.
Due to overwhelming response to her rendition of the song, it was released as a commercial single and video of her performance.
The song reached the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, making her the only music act to turn the National Anthem into a pop hit.
Whitney donated all her share of the proceeds to the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund.
As a result, Whitney was named to the Red Cross Board of Governors. Her version of "The Star Spangled Banner" was critically acclaimed and is considered the benchmark for singers.
Following the attacks on September 11, 2001, the song was released again by Arista Records with all profits going towards the firefighters and victims of the attacks, but this time, the song peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified Platinum.
Later on in 1991, Whitney put together her concert "Welcome Home Heroes with Whitney Houston" with HBO for the soldiers fighting in the Gulf War and their families.
The free concert took place at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia in front of 3,500 servicemen and women. HBO was able to descramble the concert so it was free for everyone to watch.
The concert gave the network its highest ratings ever. She later embarked on the "I'm Your Baby Tonight World Tour."
Marrying Bobby Brown and "The Bodyguard" movie & soundtrackEdit
During the 80s, Whitney was romantically linked to football player Randall Cunningham and actor\comedian Eddie Murphy, whom she dated.
At the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards, Whitney met R&B singer Bobby Brown and after a three-year courtship, they married on July 18, 1992.
On March 4, 1993, Whitney gave birth to her only child (the fourth child for Bobby), a daughter named Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown.
Bobby would later have several infamous run-ins with the law and served some jail time.
With the success of Whitney's albums, movie offers poured in for Whitney, including offers to work with Quincy Jones, Spike Lee, & Robert De Niro, but Whitney felt the time wasn't right.
Whitney's first film role was in "The Bodyguard" starring Kevin Costner. She portrayed the role of Rachel Marron, a star who is stalked by a crazed fan and hires a bodyguard for protection.
Controversy arose as some people felt that the film's advertising intentionally hid Whitney's face to hide the film's interracial relationship.
The movie received mixed reviews and Whitney received a Razzie Award nomination for "Worst Actress."
Despite that, the movie was a huge success at the box office, grossing more than $121 million in the United States and $410 million worldwide, making it one of the top 100 grossing films in film history at the time of the movie's release.
The movie soundtrack was also a big success. Whitney executive produced and contributed six songs to the soundtrack.
The lead single from the album, "I Will Always Love You" topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a then record-breaking 14 weeks and became a #1 R&B & Adult Contemporary hit.
The single was certified 4x platinum by the RIAA, making Whitney the first female artist with a single to reach that level in the RIAA history and became the best-selling single by a female artist in the United States.
The song was also a global success, topping the charts in almost all countries, became one of the best-selling singles of all time with 12 million copies sold.
The soundtrack topped the Billboard 200 chart for 20 non-consecutive weeks (which is the longest tenue by any album on the chart in the Nielsen SoundScan era) and became one of the fastest selling albums ever.
The album was certified 17x platinum in the US alone, with worldwide sales of 44 million, making the soundtrack the biggest selling album by a female music act.
Whitney became the first female artist to have three singles in the top 11 at the same time.
Whitney won three Grammys for the album in 1994 including "Album of the Year" and "Record of the Year."
In addition, she won a record of 8 American Music Awards at the awards ceremony including the Award of Merit.
She also won 11 Billboard Music Awards, 3 Soul Train Music Awards in 1993 and 1994 including the Sammy Davis Jr. Award as "Entertainer of the Year," a recod of 5 World Music Awards, and a BRIT award.
Following the success of the project, Whitney embarked on another expansive global tour, The Bodyguard World Tour in 1993 and 1994.
Her concerts, movie and recording grosses made Whitney the third highest earning female entertainer of 1993–94, just behind Oprah Winfrey and Barbra Streisand according to Forbes magazine.
Whitney placed in the top five of Entertainment Weekly's annual "Entertainer of the Year" ranking and was labeled by Premiere magazine as one of the 100 most powerful people in Hollywood.
In October of 1994, Whitney attended and performed at a state dinner in the White House honoring newly elected South African president Nelson Mandela.
At the end of her world tour, she performed three concerts in South Africa to honor President Mandela, playing to over 200,000 people which made her the first major musician to visit the newly unified and apartheid free nation following Nelson Mandela's winning election.
The concert was broadcast live on HBO with the funds of the concert being donated to various charities in South Africa.
This event was considered the nation's "biggest media event since the inauguration of Nelson Mandela."
Waiting to ExhaleEdit
In 1995, Whitney starred in her second film, "Waiting to Exhale" alongside Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Lela Rochon.
The movie was about four African-American women struggling with their relationships and Whitney portrayed the the lead role of Savannah Jackson, a TV producer in love with a married man.
She chose the role because she saw the film as a “breakthrough for the image of black women because it represents them both as professionals and as caring mothers.”
The movie opened at #1, grossing $67 million in the United States at the box office and $81 million worldwide.
“Waiting to Exhale” proved that a movie targeting a black audience can cross-over to success.
It’s also notable for its portrayal of black women as strong middle class citizens as opposed to stereotypes. The reviews were mainly positive for the ensemble cast.
Whitney was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture,” but she lost to her co-star, Angela Bassett.
The movie soundtrack was produced by Whitney and Babyface.
Babyface originally wanted Whitney to record the whole album, but she declined because she “wanted it to be an album of women with vocal distinction” and she gathered several African-American female artists (such as Brandy, Patti LaBelle, Toni Braxton, Mary J. Blige, and Aretha Franklin) for the soundtrack to go along with the film’s strong women message.
The song “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” topped the Billboard Hot 100 & spent 11 weeks at the #2 spot, and topped Billboard’s R&B charts for 8 weeks.
The soundtrack debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and was certified 7x Platinum by the RIAA in the United States, denoting shipments of 7 million copies & received strong reviews.
Later that year, Whitney’s children’s charity organization was awarded a VH1 Honor for all the charitable work.
The Preacher’s WifeEdit
In 1996, Whitney starred in the holiday comedy movie “The Preacher’s Wife” with Denzel Washington, portraying the role of a gospel singing wife of a pastor played by Courtney B. Vance.
She earned $10 million for the role, making her the highest paid actresses in Hollywood at the time and was the highest earning African-American actress in Hollywood.
The movie was moderately successful, earning approximately $50 million at the box office in the United States.
It gave Whitney her strongest reviews so far. She was nominated again for an NAACP Image Award and won for “Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture.”
She recorded and co-produced with Mervyn Warren on the movie soundtrack.
The album included six gospel songs with the Georgia Mass Choir that were recorded at the Great Star Rising Church in Atlanta. Whitney duetted with gospel singing legend, Shirley Caesar.
Whitney The ProducerEdit
In 1997, Whitney’s production company changed its name to BrownHouse Productions and was joined by Debra Martin Chase.
Their goal was to “show aspects of the lives of African-Americans that have not been brought to the screen before” while improving how African-Americans are portrayed in film and TV.
Their first project was a made for TV remake of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella starring Brandy, Whoopi Goldberg, Jason Alexander, Bernadette Peters and Whitney herself as the Fairy Godmother in the film (along with co-producing the film).
The film is notable for its multiracial cast and nonstereotypical message.
An estimated 60 million viewers tuned in to the special giving the ABC Network its highest TV ratings in 16 years.
It received seven Emmy nominations including “Outstanding Variety, Musical or Comedy” and won “Outstanding Art Direction in a Variety, Musical, or Comedy Special.”
Whitney and Debra later obtained the rights to the story of Dorothy Dandrige, the first African-American actress to be nominated for an Oscar.
She was originally supposed to play the role of Dorothy Dandrige, but actress Halle Berry also had rights to the project and got her version going first.
Later that year, Whitney paid tribute to her idols such as Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross by performing their hit songs during the three-night HBO concert, “Classic Whitney” live from Washington, D.C. The special raised over $300,000 for the Children’s Defense Fund.
At the 12th annual Soul Train Music Awards, Whitney received the Quincy Jones Award for outstanding career achievements in the field of entertainment.
My Love Is Your LoveEdit
After spending much of the early and mid-90s working on movies and their soundtrack albums, Whitney released her first studio album in 8 years “My Love is Your Love” in November of 1998.
It was originally supposed to be a greatest hits album with a handful of new songs, the recording sessions were so fruitful that a new full-length studio album was released.
The album was recorded & mixed in only 6 weeks and featured production from Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, Wyclef Jean and Missy Elliot.
It had a more funkier & edgier sound than her past albums and saw Whitney handling urban dance, hip-hop, mid-tempo R&B, reggae, torch songs, and ballads with great dexterity.
The album debuted at #13 on the Billboard 200.
From late 1998 to early 2000, the album had several hit singles such as a duet with singer Mariah Carey, “When You Believe” for the 1998 movie soundtrack to “The Prince of Egypt.”
The song peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became an international hit, peaking in the Top 10 in several countries & won an Academy Award for “Best Original Song.”
The second single released from the album, “Heartbreak Hotel” featuring singers Faith Evans & Kelly Price, peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, topped the U.S. R&B chart for 7 weeks and received a 1999 MTV Video Music Award nomination for “Best R&B Video.”
The third single, “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won Whitney her sixth Grammy Award for “Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
The singles became international hits as well and all of the singles (except for “When You Believe”) topped Billboard’s Hot Dance Music\Club Play chart.
The album sold 4 million copies in America and was certified 4x platinum, selling a total of 11 million copies worldwide. It gave her some of her strongest reviews ever.
Rolling Stone magazine said that Whitney was singing “with a bite in her voice” and The Village Voice called it “Whitney’s sharpest and most satisfying so far.”
In 1999, Whitney participated in VH1’s Divas Live ’99 along with Brandy, Mary J. Blige, Tina Turner, and Cher.
During that same year, Whitney hit the road with her 70 date concert tour “My Love Is Your Love World Tour.” The European leg of the tour was Europe’s highest grossing arena tour of the year.
In November of 1999, Whitney was named “Top Selling R&B Female Artist of the Century” with certified U.S. sales of 51 million copies at the time and The Bodyguard soundtrack was named “The Top Selling Soundtrack Album of the Century” by the RIAA.
She also won “The Artist of the Decade,” female award for extraordinary artistic contributions during the 90s at the 14th annual Soul Train Music Awards & an MTV Europe Music Award for “Best R&B.”
Whitney: The Greatest HitsEdit
In May 2000, Whitney’s greatest hits album was released worldwide.
The double-disc set peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200 and topped the album charts in the United Kingdom. In addition, the album reached the top 10 in many other countries.
The album featured house\club music remixes of many of Whitney’s up-tempo hits and four new songs: “Could I Have This Kiss Forever” with Enrique Iglesias, “Same Script, Different Cast” with Deborah Cox, “If I Told You That” with George Michael, and “Fine.”
The album also featured songs that never appeared on a Whitney Houston album: “One Moment in Time,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” a duet with Jermaine Jackson from his 1986 album, “Precious Moments” entitled “If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful.”
Along with the album, there was also an accompanying VHS and DVD released featuring the music videos to Whitney’s greatest hits as well as several hard-to-find live performances (including her 1983 debut on the Merv Griffin Show), and interviews.
The greatest hits album was certified 3x platinum in the United States with worldwide sales of 10 million.
Whitney’s Personal StrugglesEdit
Even though Whitney was seen as a “good girl” with a perfect image in the 80s and early 90s, by the late 90s, her behavior changed.
She was often hours late for interviews, photo shoots, & rehearsals. Whitney canceled concerts and talk show appearances.
With the missed performances & weight loss, there were rumors about Whitney using drugs with Bobby Brown.
On January 11, 2000, airport security guards discovered marijuana in Whitney and Bobby’s luggage at a Hawaii airport, but they boarded the plane and departed before the authorities could arrive.
The charges were later dropped against them, but rumors of the couple’s drug use continued to surface.
Two months later, Clive Davis was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame where Whitney was scheduled to perform, but she failed to show up.
Shortly thereafter, Whitney was scheduled to perform at the Academy Awards, but she was fired from the event by musical director & her longtime friend, Burt Bacharach.
Whitney’s publicist cited throat problems as the reason for the cancellation, but according to Burt’s book, “The Big Show: High Times and Dirty Dealings Backstage at the Academy Awards,” it was revealed that Whitney’s voice was shaky, she seemed distracted and her attitude was noted as casual & “almost defiant.” It also stated that while Whitney was supposed to sing “Over the Rainbow,” she would start singing a different song.
Whitney would later admit that she was fired & later that year, Whitney’s long-time friend & executive assistant, Robyn Crawford resigned from her management company.
In August of 2001, Whitney signed the biggest record deal in history with Arista\BMG Records. She renewed her contract for $100 million to deliver six new albums on which she would earn royalties.
She later made an appearance on Michael Jackson’s 30th Anniversary Special.
Whitney’s extremely thin frame further spurred rumors of drug use, but Whitney’s publicist stated that:
"Whitney has been under stress due to family matters, and when she is under stress she doesn't eat."
She was scheduled for a second performance the following night, but she canceled.
Within weeks, her version of “The Star Spangled Banner” was re-released after the September 11 attacks with the proceeds donated to the New York Firefighters 9/11 Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Fraternal Order of Police.
The song topped its previous position on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #6 on the chart.
In 2002, Whitney became involved in a legal dispute with John Houston Enterprise. Although the company was started by Whitney’s father, John to manage her career, it was actually run by company president Kevin Skinner.
Kevin filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit and sued for $100 million, but lost, stating that Whitney owed the company previously unpaid compensation for helping negotiate her $100 million contract with Arista Records and for sorting out legal matters.
Whitney stated that her then 81-year-old father had nothing to do with the lawsuit. Although Kevin tried to claim otherwise, John never appeared in court.
In February of 2003, John passed away, the lawsuit was dismissed on April 5, 2004 and Kevin was awarded with nothing.
During that same year, Whitney did an interview with Diane Sawyer to promote her then-upcoming album.
During the prime-time special, she spoke on topics including her rumored drug use and marriage. She was asked about the ongoing drug rumors & stated:
"First of all, let's get one thing straight. Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let's get that straight. Okay? We don't do crack. We don't do that. Crack is wack."
However, Whitney admitted to using other drug substances at the time including cocaine.
In December of 2002, Whitney released her fifth album, “Just Whitney....” which included productions from Bobby Brown along with Missy Elliott and Babyface.
It marked the first time that Whitney didn’t produce with Clive Davis because Clive had been released by top management at BMG.
Upon the album’s release, it received mixed reviews.
The album peaked at #9 on the Billboard 200 and had the highest first week sales of any album Whitney had ever released.
The four singles released from the album became hits on Billboard’s Hot Dance Music\Club Play chart, but didn’t fare well on the Hot 100.
It was certified platinum in the United States and sold approximately 3 million worldwide.
Whitney’s Christmas Album\TouringEdit
In November of 2003, Whitney released her first Christmas album, “One Wish: The Holiday Album” with a collection of traditional holiday songs. She produced the album with Mervyn Warren and Gordon Chambers.
The single from the album “One Wish (for Christmas)” reached the top 20 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart and the album was certified Gold.
Whitney spent most of 2004 touring and performing in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, & Russia.
In September of 2004, Whitney gave a surprise performance at the World Music Awards in a tribute to long-time friend Clive Davis.
After the show, Clive & Whitney announced plans to go into the studio to work on her new album.
In early 2004, Whitney’s then-husband, Bobby Brown starred in his own reality TV show, “Being Bobby Brown” on the Bravo television network.
The show provided a view into the domestic goings-on in the Brown household.
Even though it was Bobby’s vehicle, Whitney was a prominent figure throughout the show and received as much airtime as her husband.
The show made its TV debut in June of 2005 and featured Whitney in what some people would say, not her most flattering moments.
The show wasn’t renewed for a second season after Whitney stated she would no longer appear in it and Bobby Brown & Bravo couldn’t come to an agreement for another season.
Divorcing Bobby BrownEdit
After years of controversy and turmoil, Whitney separated from Bobby Brown in September of 2006 and filed for divorce the following month.
On February 1, 2007, Whitney asked the court to fast-track their divorce.
On April 24, 2007, the divorce was finalized with Whitney being granted custody of their daughter, Bobbi Kristina.
On May 4, 2007, Whitney sold the suburban Atlanta home that was featured in “Being Bobby Brown” for $1.19 million.
A few days later, Bobby sued Whitney in Orange County, California in an attempt to change the terms of their custody agreement & also sought child & spousal support from Whitney.
In the lawsuit, he claimed that financial and emotional problems prevented him from properly responding to Whitney’s divorce petition.
Bobby lost his court case as the judge dismissed his appeal to overule the custody terms leaving Whitney with full custody of their daughter and leaving Bobby with no spousal support.
Returning to MusicEdit
In March of 2007, Clive Davis announced that Whitney would begin recording a new album.
In October of that same year, Arista Records released another Whitney Houston compliation album, “The Ultimate Collection” outside of the United States.
In September of 2009, Whitney gave her first interview in 7 years, appearing on the season premiere of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and was billed as the “most anticipated music interview of the decade.”
On the show, Whitney admitted to using drugs with Bobby Brown who “laced marijuana with rock cocaine” and by 1996, she told Oprah that “[doing drugs] was an everyday thing... I wasn't happy by that point in time. I was losing myself."
I Look To YouEdit
In August of 2009, Whitney released her new (and last album), "I Look to You” which topped the Billboard 200 with her best-opening week sales of 305,000 copies, making it Whitney’s first number-one album since “The Bodyguard” and her first studio album to reach number one since her 1987 album, “Whitney.”
To promote the album, Whitney appeared on European television programs. She performed “I Look to You” on the Germany TV show, “Wetten, dass..?” and three days later, she performed “Million Dollar Bill” on the French TV show, “Le Grand Journal.”
Whitney also appeared as a guest mentor on the U.K. version of “The X-Factor” and performed “Million Dollar Bill” on the following day’s results show, completing the song even though a strap in the back of her dress popped open two minutes into the performance. Whitney later commented that she “sang [herself] out of [her] clothes."
The performance was poorly received by the British media and was variously described as “weird,” “ungracious,” “shambolic,” and a “flop.” Despite the negative reception, “Million Dollar Bill” jumped to #5 on the U.K. Singles chart and three weeks after the release, “I Look to You” went gold.
Whitney performed “Million Dollar Bill” on the Italian version of “The X-Factor” to excellent reviews.
She was awarded the Gold Certificate for achieving over 50,00 CD sales of “I Look to You” in Italy.
In November, Whitney performed “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” at the 2009 American Music Awards in Los Angeles, California.
Two days later, she performed both songs on the season 9 finale of “Dancing with the Stars.”
As of December of 2009, “I Look To You” has been certified platinum by the RIAA for sales of more than one million copies in the United States.
On January 26, 2010, Whitney’s debut album was re-released in a special edition entitled “Whitney Houston: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition.”
Whitney later embarked on a world tour, The Nothing but Love World Tour,” her first world tour in over 10 years and was announced as a triumphant comeback. However, poor reviews and rescheduled concerts brought negative media attention.
Whitney canceled some of her concerts due to illness and received widespread negative reviews from fans who were disappointed in the quality of her voice & performance. Some fans even reportedly walked out of her concerts.
In January of 2010, Whitney was nominated for two NAACP Image Awards for “Best Female Artist” and “Best Music Video” which she won for the single, “I Look to You.”
On January 16, 2010, she received the BET Honors Award for Entertainer, citing her lifetime achievements spanning over 25 years in the industry.
The award ceremony was held at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. and aired on February 1, 2010.
Singers Jennifer Hudson & Kim Burrell performed in honor of Whitney and garnered positive reviews.
Whitney also received a nomination from the Echo Awards in Germany for “Best International Artist.”
In April of 2010, U.K. newspaper, The Mirror reported that Whitney was thinking about recording her eighth studio album & wanted to work with Black Eyed Peas member, will.i.am, her first choice for a collaboration.
In January of 2011, Whitney performed “I Look to You” at the 2011 BET Celebration of Gospel with Kim Burrell at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Early in 2011, Whitney gave an uneven performance in tribute of her cousin, Dionne Warwick at music mogul Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy gala.
In May of 2011, Whitney enrolled as an outpatient in a rehab center, citing drug and alcohol problems.
A representative of hers said it was part of Whitney’s “longstanding recovery process.”
In September of 2011, the Hollywood Reporter announced that Whitney would produce & star alongside singer Jordin Sparks & actor Mike Epps in the remake of the 1976 film, “Sparkle” where Whitney portrays the role of Jordin’s “not-so encouraging mother.”
Whitney was also credited as an executive producer of the film. Late R&B singer Aaliyah was originally tapped to star in the film, but after her tragic death in a plane crash in 2001, production on the film was halted.
Whitney’s remake of “Sparkle” was filmed in the fall of 2011 over a 2-month period. It was released by TriStar Pictures on August 17, 2012.
On May 21, 2012, the song “Celebrate” (which was the last song that Whitney recorded with Jordin) premiered at RyanSeacrest.com. It was officially made available for digital download on iTunes on June 5, 2012.
The music video was filmed on May 30, 2012 and shot over a period of 2 days. A sneak peak of the video premiered on “Entertainment Tonight” on June 4, 2012.
On February 9, 2012, Whitney visited R&B singers Brandy and Monica together with Clive Davis at their rehearsals for Clive’s pre-Grammy Awards party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.
During that same day, she made her last public appearance when she joined Kelly Price on stage in Hollywood, California singing “Jesus Loves Me.”
On February 11, 2012, Whitney was found unconscious in suite 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, submerged in the bathtub.
She was later announced dead and the cause of the death wasn’t immediately known. It was later ruled by the coroner to have been an “accidental drowning.”
Beverly Hills paramedics arrived at the hotel at approximately 3:3 p.m. and found her unresponsive and performed CPR. Whitney was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. PST.
Local police stated there were “no signs of criminal intent.”
On March 22, 2012, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office reported Whitney’s cause of death was drowning and the “effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use.”
The office stated the amount of cocaine found in Whitney’s body indicated that she used the substance shortly before her death.
Toxicology results revealed additional drugs in her system: Benadryl, Xanax, marijuana, and Flexeril. The manner of Whitney’s death was listed as an “accident.”
On Saturday, February 18, 2012, Whitney had an invitation-only memorial at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. The service was scheduled for two hours, but it lasted for four.
The people who performed at the funeral were Stevie Wonder (with a rewritten version of "Ribbon in the Sky" and "Love's in Need of Love Today"), CeCe Winans (singing "Don't Cry" and "Jesus Loves Me"), Alicia Keys (singing "Send Me an Angel"), Kim Burrell (with a rewritten version of "A Change Is Gonna Come") and R. Kelly ( singing "I Look to You").
It was interspersed with hymns by the church choir & remarks by Clive Davis, Kevin Costner, Dionne Warwick, her music director, Ricky Minor, and her security guard for the past eleven years, Ray Watson.
Aretha Franklin was listed on the program and expected to perform, but she was unable to attend the service. Bobby Brown was also invited to the funeral, but he left before the service began.
Whitney was buried on February 19, 2012 in Westfield, New Jersey next to her father, John, who died in 2003.
In June of 2012, the McDonald’s Gospelfest in Newark became a tribute to Whitney.
Reaction to Whitney’s DeathEdit
Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party that Whitney was expected to attend went on as scheduled, but it was quickly turned into a tribute to Whitney.
Clive spoke about Whitney’s death at the evening’s start:
"By now you have all learned of the unspeakably tragic news of our beloved Whitney's passing. I don't have to mask my emotion in front of a room full of so many dear friends. I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me for so many years. Whitney was so full of life. She was so looking forward to tonight even though she wasn't scheduled to perform. Whitney was a beautiful person and a talent beyond compare. She graced this stage with her regal presence and gave so many memorable performances here over the years. Simply put, Whitney would have wanted the music to go on and her family asked that we carry on.”
Singer Tony Bennett spoke of Whitney’s death before performing at Clive’s party, stating: “First, it was Michael Jackson, then Amy Winehouse, now, the magnificent Whitney Houston.”
He sang "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" and said of Houston, ‘When I first heard her, I called Clive Davis and said, 'You finally found the greatest singer I've ever heard in my life.’"
Some celebrities opposed to Clive’s decision to continue with the party while a police investigation was being conducted in Whitney’s hotel room and her body was still in the building.
In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan on February 13, 2012, Chaka Khan said that she felt the party should’ve been canceled, stating:
“I thought that was complete insanity. And knowing Whitney I don't believe that she would have said 'the show must go on.' She's the kind of woman that would've said 'Stop everything! Un-unh. I'm not going to be there.' [...] I don't know what could motivate a person to have a party in a building where the person whose life he had influenced so enormously and whose life had been affected by hers. They were like... I don't understand how that party went on.”
Sharon Osbourne condemned Clive’s party, declaring:
"I think it was disgraceful that the party went on. I don't want to be in a hotel room when there's someone you admire who's tragically lost their life four floors up. I'm not interested in being in that environment and I think when you grieve someone, you do it privately, you do it with people who understand you. I thought it was so wrong."
Several celebrities released statements responding to Whitney’s death.
Whitney’s godmother, Darlene Love stated:
“It felt like I had been struck by a lightning bolt in my gut.”
Dolly Parton (whose song “I Will Always Love You” was covered by Whitney in 1992), stated:
"I will always be grateful and in awe of the wonderful performance she did on my song and I can truly say from the bottom of my heart, 'Whitney, I will always love you. You will be missed.’”
Mariah Carey stated:
“Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend ... She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth."
Oprah Winfrey (who did an in-depth interview with Whitney in 2009) wrote on Twitter:
“To me Whitney was THE VOICE. We got to hear a part of God every time she sang. Heart is heavy, spirit grateful for the GIFT of her.”
Quincy Jones stated:
“I am absolutely heartbroken at the news of Whitney’s passing. Ashford & Simpson first made me aware of Whitney when she was just sixteen and I always regretted not having had the opportunity to work with her. She was a true original and a talent beyond compare. I will miss her terribly.”
Moments after the news of Whitney’s death emerged, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News broke from their regularly scheduled programming to dedicate time to non-stop coverage of Whitney’s death.
All three networks featured live interviews with people who knew Whitney and those who worked with her, interviewed her along with some of her peers in the music industry. “Saturday Night Live” displayed a photo of a smiling Whitney with SNL member, Molly Shannon from her 1996 appearance on the show.
MTV and VH1 interrupted their regularly scheduled programming on Sunday February 12, 2012 to air many of Whitney’s classic videos with MTV often airing news segments in between a featuring various reactions from fans and celebrities.
Bobby Brown was reported to be “in and out of crying fits” since receiving the news of his ex-wife’s death.
He didn’t cancel a scheduled performance and within hours of Whitney’s sudden death, an audience in Mississippi observed as Bobby blew kisses skyward and tearfully said: “I love you, Whitney.”
Executive producer of the 54th Grammy Awards, Ken Ehrlich announced that Jennifer Hudson would perform a tribute to Whitney at the February 12th awards ceremony.
He said that “event organizers believed Jennifer could perform a respectful musical tribute to Houston". He also went on to say:
"It's too fresh in everyone's memory to do more at this time, but we would be remiss if we didn't recognize Whitney's remarkable contribution to music fans in general, and in particular her close ties with the Grammy telecast and her Grammy wins and nominations over the years.”
At the start of the awards ceremony, a footage of Whitney performing “I Will Always Love You” from the 1994 Grammys was shown following a prayer read by host LL Cool J.
Later in the program, there was a montage of musicians who died in 2011 with Whitney singing “Saving All My Love For You” at the 1986 Grammys.
Jennifer Hudson paid tribute to Whitney and the other artists by performing “I Will Always Love You” and the tribute was partially credited for the Grammys telecast getting its second highest ratings in history.
On February 17, 2012, Whitney was honored in the form of various tributes at the 43rd NAACP Image Awards.
An image montage of Whitney and other important black figures who died in 2011 was followed by video footage from the 1994 ceremony which depicted her accepting two Image Awards for “Outstanding Female Artist” and “Entertainer of The Year.”
Following the video tribute, gospel singer Yolanda Adams delivered her rendition of “I Love the Lord” from “The Preacher’s Wife” soundtrack.
In the ceremony’s finale, Kirk Franklin and the Family started their performance with “The Greatest Love of All”
On February 21, 2012, the 2012 BRIT Awards (which took place at London’s 02 Arena) paid tribute to Whitney by playing a 30-second montage of her music videos with a snippet of “One Moment in Time” as the background music in the ceremony’s first segment.
On February 21, 2012, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that all New Jersey state flags would be flown at half-staff to honor Whitney.
On February 26, 2012, singer Esperanza Spalding sang “What a Wonderful World” along with the Southern California Children’s Choir.
Whitney was featured in the “In Memorium” montage along other cinema greats at the 84th Academy Awards held at the Hollywood and Highland Center.
Whtiney was a mezzo-soprano and was commonly referred to as "The Voice" in reference to her exceptional vocal talent.
She was listed third in MTV's list of 22 Greatest Voices and sixth on Online Magazine COVE's list of the 100 Best Pop Vocalists with a score of 48.5/50.
Jon Pareles of The New York Times stated she "always had a great big voice, a technical marvel from its velvety depths to its ballistic middle register to its ringing and airy heights."
In 2008, Rolling Stone listed Houston as the thirty-fourth of the 100 greatest singers of all time, stating:
"Her voice is a mammoth, coruscating cry: Few vocalists could get away with opening a song with 45 unaccompanied seconds of singing, but Houston's powerhouse version of Dolly Parton's 'I Will Always Love You' is a tour de force."
Matthew Perpetua from Rolling Stone also eulogized her vocal, enumerating ten performances including "How Will I Know" from the 1986 MTV VMAs and "The Star Spangled Banner" at the 1991 Super Bowl.
"Whitney Houston was blessed with an astonishing vocal range and extraordinary technical skill, but what truly made her a great singer was her ability to connect with a song and drive home its drama and emotion with incredible precision. She was a brilliant performer and her live shows often eclipsed her studio recordings."
Jon Caramanica of The New York Times commented:
"Her voice was clean and strong, with barely any grit, well suited to the songs of love and aspiration. [...] Hers was a voice of triumph and achievement, and it made for any number of stunning, time-stopping vocal performances."
Mariah Carey stated:
"She [Whitney] has a really rich, strong mid-belt that very few people have. She sounds really good, really strong."
While in her review of I Look to You, music critic Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times writes:
"[Houston's voice] stands like monuments upon the landscape of 20th century pop, defining the architecture of their times, sheltering the dreams of millions and inspiring the climbing careers of countless imitators," adding:
"When she was at her best, nothing could match her huge, clean, cool mezzo-soprano."
Lauren Everitt from BBC News Magazine commented on melisma used in Houston's recording and its influence, stating:
"An early 'I' in Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You' takes nearly six seconds to sing. In those seconds the former gospel singer-turned-pop star packs a series of different notes into the single syllable. The technique is repeated throughout the song, most pronouncedly on every 'I' and 'you'. The vocal technique is called melisma, and it has inspired a host of imitators. Other artists may have used it before Houston, but it was her rendition of Dolly Parton's love song that pushed the technique into the mainstream in the 90s. [...] But perhaps what Houston nailed best was moderation."
Everitt said that "[i]n a climate of reality shows ripe with 'oversinging,' it's easy to appreciate Houston's ability to save melisma for just the right moment."
Whitney's vocal stylings have had a significant impact on the music industry. According to Linda Lister in "Divafication: The Deification of Modern Female Pop Stars," she has been called the "Queen of Pop" for her influence during the 1990s, commercially rivaling Mariah Carey and Celine Dion.
Stephen Holden from The New York Times (in his review of Houston's Radio City Music Hall concert on July 20, 1993) praised her attitude as a singer, writing:
"Whitney Houston is one of the few contemporary pop stars of whom it might be said: the voice suffices. While almost every performer whose albums sell in the millions calls upon an entertainer's bag of tricks, from telling jokes to dancing to circus pyrotechnics, Ms. Houston would rather just stand there and sing."
With regard to her singing style, he added:
"Her [Houston's] stylistic trademarks – shivery melismas that ripple up in the middle of a song, twirling embellishments at the ends of phrases that suggest an almost breathless exhilaration – infuse her interpretations with flashes of musical and emotional lightning."
Elysa Gardner of the Los Angeles Times in her review for The Preacher's Wife Soundtrack praised Whitney's vocal ability highly, commenting:
"She is first and foremost a pop diva – at that, the best one we have. No other female pop star – not Mariah Carey, not Celine Dion, not Barbra Streisand – quite rivals Houston in her exquisite vocal fluidity and purity of tone, and her ability to infuse a lyric with mesmerizing melodrama."
Whitney as a Musical InfluenceEdit
During the 1980s, MTV was coming into its own and it received criticism for not playing enough videos by black artists.
With Michael Jackson breaking down the color barrier for black men, Whitney did the same thing for black women.
She became the first black woman to receive heavy rotation on the network following the success of the "How Will I Know" video.
Following her breakthrough, other African-American women, such as Janet Jackson and Anita Baker, were successful in popular music.
Anita commented that:
"Because of what Whitney and Sade did, there was an opening for me... For radio stations, black women singers aren't taboo anymore."
Allmusic noted Whitney' contribution to the success of black artists on the pop scene, commenting:
"Houston was able to handle big adult contemporary ballads, effervescent, stylish dance-pop, and slick urban contemporary soul with equal dexterity" and that "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."
The New York Times stated that "Houston was a major catalyst for a movement within black music that recognized the continuity of soul, pop, jazz and gospel vocal traditions."
Richard Corliss of Time magazine commented on her initial success breaking various barriers:
"Of her first album's ten cuts, six were ballads. This chanteuse [Houston] had to fight for air play with hard rockers. The young lady had to stand uncowed in the locker room of macho rock. The soul strutter had to seduce a music audience that anointed few black artists with superstardom. [...] She was a phenomenon waiting to happen, a canny tapping of the listener's yen for a return to the musical middle. And because every new star creates her own genre, her success has helped other blacks, other women, other smooth singers find an avid reception in the pop marketplace."
Stephen Holden of The New York Times said that Whitney "revitalized the tradition of strong gospel-oriented pop-soul singing."
Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times referred to the singer as a "national treasure."
Jon Caramanica (the other music critic of The New York Times) called Whitney "R&B's great modernizer" adding "slowly but surely reconciling the ambition and praise of the church with the movements and needs of the body and the glow of the mainstream."
He also drew comparisons between Whitney's influence and other big names' on 1980s pop:
"She was, alongside Michael Jackson and Madonna, one of the crucial figures to hybridize pop in the 1980s, though her strategy was far less radical than that of her peers. Jackson and Madonna were by turns lascivious and brutish and, crucially, willing to let their production speak more loudly than their voices, an option Ms. Houston never went for.
Also, she was less prolific than either of them, achieving most of her renown on the strength of her first three solo albums and one soundtrack released from 1985 to 1992.
If she was less influential than they were in the years since, it was only because her gift was so rare, so impossible to mimic.
Michael and Madonna built worldviews around their voices; Ms. Houston’s voice was the worldview. She was someone more to be admired, like a museum piece, than to be emulated."
The Independent's music critic Andy Gill also wrote about Houston's influence on modern R&B and singing competitions, comparing it to Michael Jackson's, stating:
"Because Whitney, more than any other single artist ― Michael Jackson included ― effectively mapped out the course of modern R&B, setting the bar for standards of soul vocalese, and creating the original template for what we now routinely refer to as the 'soul diva.' Jackson was a hugely talented icon, certainly, but he will be as well remembered (probably more so) for his presentational skills, his dazzling dance moves, as for his musical innovations. Whitney, on the other hand, just sang, and the ripples from her voice continue to dominate the pop landscape." Gill said that there "are few, if any, Jackson imitators on today's TV talent shows, but every other contestant is a Whitney wannabe, desperately attempting to emulate that wondrous combination of vocal effects – the flowing melisma, the soaring mezzo-soprano confidence, the tremulous fluttering that carried the ends of lines into realms of higher yearning."
Houston was considered by many to be a "singer's singer," who had an influence on countless other vocalists, both female and male.
Similarly, Steve Huey from Allmusic wrote that the shadow of Whitney'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.
Rolling Stone (on Whitney's biography) stated that she "redefined the image of a female soul icon and inspired singers ranging from Mariah Carey to Rihanna."
Essence ranked Whitney the fifth on their list of 50 Most Influential R&B Stars of all time, calling her "the diva to end all divas."
A number of artists have acknowledged Whitney as an influence including Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Christina Aguilera, LeAnn Rimes, Jessica Simpson, Nelly Furtado, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Ciara, P!nk, Ashanti, Robin Thicke Jennifer Hudson, Stacie Orrico, Amerie and Destiny's Child.
Mariah Carey (who was often compared to Whitney) said: "She [Houston] has been a big influence on me."
She later told USA Today that "none of us would sound the same if Aretha Franklin hadn't ever put out a record or Whitney Houston hadn't."
Celine Dion (who was the third member of the troika that dominated female pop singing in the 1990s) did a telephone interview with "Good Morning America" on February 13, 2012, saying:
"Whitney's been an amazing inspiration for me. I've been singing with her my whole career, actually. I wanted to have a career like hers, sing like her, look beautiful like her."
Beyoncé told the Globe and Mail that her "inspired [her] to get up there and do what [she] did."
She also wrote on her website on the day after Whitney's death:
"I, like every singer, always wanted to be just like [Houston]. Her voice was perfect. Strong but soothing. Soulful and classic. Her vibrato, her cadence, her control. So many of my life's memories are attached to a Whitney Houston song. She is our queen and she opened doors and provided a blueprint for all of us."
Mary J. Blige said that Whitney inviting her onstage during "VH1's Divas Live" show in 1999 "opened doors for [her] all over the world."
"The first Whitney Houston CD was genius. That CD introduced the world to her angelic yet powerful voice. Without Whitney, half of this generation of singers wouldn't be singing."
In Ebony magazine's feature article celebrating black music in June of 2006, Kelly Rowland recalled that
"[I] wanted to be a singer after I saw Whitney Houston on TV singing 'Greatest Love of All'. I wanted to sing like Whitney Houston in that red dress." She added that "And I have never, ever forgotten that song [Greatest Love of All]. I learned it backward, forward, sideways. The video still brings chills to me. When you wish and pray for something as a kid, you never know what blessings God will give you."
Alicia Keys said:
"Whitney is an artist who inspired me from [the time I was] a little girl."
Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson cites Whitney as her biggest musical influence. She told Newsday that she learned from her the "difference between being able to sing and knowing how to sing."
Leona Lewis (who has been called "the new Whitney Houston") also cites her as an influence. She stated that she idolized her as a little girl.