Whitney Houston

Whitney Elizabeth Houston (born August 9, 1963, Newark, New Jersey) is an American pop, R&B and soul singer and actress. She was one of the most popular and successful singers of the 1980s and 1990s.

Missing image
Whitney Houston's album cover


Early Years

Houston is a singer who grew up in a musical family: Her mother is Grammy award winning gospel/R&B singer Cissy Houston, and her cousin is Grammy Award winning singer Dionne Warwick. By age 11, Houston was performing as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at the New Hope Baptist church in Newark. As a teenager, she began accompanying her mother in concert (as well as on her 1978 album Think It Over).

She was a backing singer with established acts, such as Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson, and Lou Rawls, as well as the lead vocalist on the Michael Zager Band's single "Life's A Party".

Somewhat bizarrely, Houston's first recording as a featured vocalist was with Bill Laswell's experimental jazz-funk ensemble Material; their 1982 album One Down placed Houston alongside such avant-gardists as Luther Vandross, Archie Shepp and Fred Frith. She also appeared as a model in various magazines, appearing on the cover of Seventeen magazine. (Steve Huey, All Music Guide)

Debut Album

By 1983, Whitney Houston had entered a worldwide contract with Arista Records after Arista chief Clive Davis heard Houston perform at a nightclub with her mother. The following year had her first commercial success when "Hold Me", a duet with Teddy Pendergrass, crept into the US Top 50 on the pop singles chart while reaching the top 5 of the R&B charts. However, the rest of that year was taken up with the recording of a debut album. Clive Davis, who had taken a strong personal interest in the vocalist, insisted on selecting the best songwriters and producers in search of the definitive debut album.

Her self titled debut was released in February of 1985, from which time it would begin its slow stalking of the album charts. Its steady climb was encouraged by the success of the singles "You Give Good Love" and "Saving All My Love For You", which hit numbers 3 and 1, respectively. The latter single also saw her on top of the charts in the UK and much of the rest of the world. The soul-influenced "How Will I Know" and the more soul-flavored "Greatest Love Of All", both topped the US charts in rapid succession.

A year to the month after its release, Whitney Houston hit number one on the album charts. It eventually sold over 13-million copies in the U.S. alone, making it the best-selling debut ever by an American female artist. Her success was acknowledged by a series of prestigious awards, notably a Best Pop Vocal Performance-Female Grammy for "Saving All My Love For You" and an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance In A Variety Program On TV.

Whitney's popularity was growing fast. She landed an advertising deal with Coca-Cola, guest-starred on Gimme a Break and Silver Spoons, and even auditioned for the part of Sondra Huxtable on the #1 show in the nation, The Cosby Show (she lost the part to Sabrina Le Beauf).


Whitney Houston cemented her superstar status on her next album, Whitney. Despite the unimaginative title, it sold over nine-million copies in the U.S" (Steve Huey, All Music Guide). "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)", released in 1987, topped charts around the world, paving the way for Houston to become the first album by a female artist to debut at number 1 on the US album chart, a feat it also achieved in the UK.

The album included a version of "I Know Him So Well", sang as a duet with her mother Cissy, and the ballad "Didn't We Almost Have It All" which became her fifth successive US number 1 shortly afterwards. However, even this was surpassed when "So Emotional" and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" continued the sequence, making seven consecutive number one hits, breaking a record previously shared by the Beatles and the Bee Gees. In 1988, she made a controversial appearance at Nelson Mandela's 70th Birthday Party, where other acts accused her of behaving like a prima donna. By September, "Love Will Save The Day" had finally broken the winning sequence in the USA where it could only manage number 9.

Another series of awards followed, including the Best Pop Vocal Performance-Female Grammy for "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" and Pop Female Vocal and Soul/R&B Female Vocal categories at the American Music Awards. Rumors abounded of film offers alongside such actors as Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy, however Houston turned down all movie offers at this time.

I'm Your Baby Tonight

Her recording of the title track to the 1988 Olympics tribute, "One Moment In Time", restored her to US Top 5 prominence and topped the UK singles chart. The follow-up single "I'm Your Baby Tonight" put Houston back on top of the US singles chart. Despite the relatively modest success of the album of the same name (number 3 in the US charts), "All The Man That I Need" compensated by becoming her ninth number 1. She became permanently enshrined in the hearts of the American public, however, when she took the microphone to perform "The Star Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXV in Miami. The public response ensured that the version emerged as a single shortly afterwards. The single went gold and helped to raise funds for The American Red Cross. She also performed the song and her other hits at Norfolk, VA as she welcomed back US troops returning from the Gulf War with a highly rated HBO concert.

Early to mid-'90s

The Bodyguard

In July 1992, Whitney Houston married R&B singer Bobby Brown; the relationship would prove turbulent. The same year she made a credible acting debut in the movie "The Bodyguard" alongside Kevin Costner. Houston recorded six songs for the phenomenally successful soundtrack album - powerful cover versions of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You", which topped the US chart for 14 weeks and the UK charts for 10, and Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman", in addition to "I Have Nothing", "Run To You", "Queen of the Night" and "Jesus Loves Me". The album went on to sell 17 million copies in the U.S. making it the best selling soundtrack album of all time. The movie went on to gross $120 million + in the U.S. and over $410 million worldwide, making Whitney Houston a movie star was well as a pop music star.

Houston won numerous awards in 1993 including Grammy Awards for Best Pop Vocal Performance-Female, Record of the Year, and Album of the Year. In 1993, Houston gave birth to her only child, a daughter, who she named Bobbi Kristina Brown. In 1994, Whitney Houston became the first American singer to perform in post-apartheid South Africa. Her concerts raised money to aid South Africa's children.

Waiting to Exhale

In 1995, Waiting to Exhale was released. The movie was very successful, earning over $70 million in the U.S. alone. The all female African-American soundtrack was an even bigger hit, selling over 10 million copies worldwide. It was written and produced by Houston's close friend Babyface. It featured three songs by Houston, the #1 hit "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)", a top ten duet with gospel artist CeCe Winans, "Count On Me" and "Why Does It Hurt So Bad" an emotional song about love gone wrong.

Late '90s to present

The Preacher's Wife

In 1996, Whitney Houston co-starred with Denzel Washington in The Preacher's Wife, a remake of the 1947 classic, The Bishop's Wife. The movie did not do as well as the others, but still brought over $48 million in the U.S. The soundtrack, a Gospel dominated album with 14 new songs from Houston, sold poorly compared to her previous releases. However, it is still the best selling Gospel album of the Billboard Era with sales of more than 3 million copies. The two big singles from the album were the top five hit "I Believe In You And Me" and the surprise Pop and Dance hit "Step By Step".


In 1997, Houston starred in and produced a multicultural version of the classic fairly tale Cinderella featuring multimedia sensation Brandy in the title role. When Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella premiered on ABC-TV on November 2, 1997, it was watched by over 60 million Americans. The movie went on to win an Emmy Award and has become the best selling video ever of a made-for-TV movie.

My Love Is Your Love

Houston spent most of the '90s concentrating on her acting career, but made a surprise return to the studio for 1998's My Love Is Your Love. The album, which was supposed to be a greatest hits collection, instead featured 13 new tracks from Houston.

Enlisting the songwriting help of Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott , Diane Warren and Wyclef Jean, among others, the album was a confident attempt by Houston to reclaim her sonic glory of years past. "When You Believe", a duet with Mariah Carey taken from the animated DreamWorks movie The Prince Of Egypt, was a transatlantic hit. With the album selling poorly, however, Houston's fortunes were revived by the US #2 single, "Heartbreak Hotel". The atypical and hard-hitting "It's Not Right But It's Okay", and the reggae inspired title track, both were US/UK Top 5 hit singles. "Heartbreak Hotel", "It's Not Right, But It's Okay", "My Love Is Your Love", and the fifth single from My Love Is Your Love, "I Learned From The Best" all went on to become #1 dance hits for Whitney, making her one of the club scenes hottest artists. Houston also performed at VH1's Divas Live! in 1999, helping make it the highest rated show in VH1 history at that time.

The Greatest Hits

In 2000, Houston got into trouble as she was found with marijuana at an airport in Hawaii and she skipped out on a performance at the Oscars (Faith Hill was a last minute replacement for Houston). Nevertheless, in 2000, Arista released, Whitney: The Greatest Hits, a two CD compilation of Houston's biggest hits. Disc One- Cool Down featured a collection of her ballads as well as two new tracks, "Could I Have This Kiss Forever" (a duet with Enrique Iglesias) and "Same Script, Different Cast" (a duet with Deborah Cox). Both songs received considerable airplay in the U.S. Disc Two- Throw Down, is a collection of her dance songs and remixes. It also featured two new songs, "Fine" and "If I Told You That" (a duet with George Michael). Neither song made a splash in the U.S., however they were hits internationally.

The Greatest Hits has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. In 2001, Houston and Arista Records agreed to re-release her version of the Star Spangled Banner to benefit the families of police officers and firefighters killed during the tragic events of September 11, 2001. It sold more than 300,000 copies, raised more than $1 million, and earned Whitney yet another Top 10 single as it peaked at #6.

Just Whitney

In November of 2002, Houston released her 5th non-soundtrack studio album, Just Whitney. The lead off single, "Whatchulookinat", is an attack on the media for their reporting about her personal life. The song did poorly worldwide. The follow up singles "One of Those Days" and "Try It Own My Own" also failed to make much of an impact. The album has sold one million copies in the U.S.

One Wish

In October of 2003, Houston released a holiday album, One Wish. The album's single, "One Wish", barely registered a pulse on radio and the album made a poor showing on the charts, selling about 500,000 copies.

Controversy and A New Beginning

In the year 2000 Houston's public image became tarnished when it was revealed that she had been battling spousal abuse with her husband. Additionally she had clearly lost a great deal of weight and this, coupled with shaky (if not cancelled) public performances gave way to rumours of cocaine addiction. Many thought that her vocals sounded strained and that her voice was wearing down on her.

2001 brought Houston her first major producing assignment: the hit teen Disney comedy The Princess Diaries starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews. She also produced two other major assignments for Disney company: the 2003 TV movie The Cheetah Girls, about the tribulations of an all-girl pop group starring Raven-Symone, and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004). Although these efforts were successful, Houston was criticized by her fans for producing "bubble-gum pop-ish" material.

In 2002, Houston admitted in a television interview to abusing cocaine, marijuana, and various other drugs. She claimed to have stopped using illegal drugs, but was seemingly making this admission to address the rumours circulating about her lifestyle. During said interview, Houston's comment about having never used crack cocaine because it was "for poor people," caused a new uproar. In March of 2004, Houston entered a drug rehab program in California. Over the spring and summer of 2004 Houston performed at a few concerts in Europe (the Soul Divas Tour with Natalie Cole) and her own concert tour in Asia. In September of 2004 she made a surprise appearance at the World Music Awards to sing for Clive Davis. They announced that they would soon commence working on a new album for Houston to be released in 2005, in which a duet with Alicia Keys is rumored to be featured. In March of 2005, Whitney's chances at a comeback appeared slim when she entered rehab for the second time. However, Whitney finished rehab in May of 2005. In an interview with Access Hollywood, mogul music producer Clive Davis announced that he was returning to the studio with Whitney to finish the album they had begun before Whitney entered rehab. (http://www.accesshollywood.com/music/4496021/detail.html)



Total US album Sales: 61 million (Worldwide album Sales : 130 million)

As shown in www.riaa.com (http://www.riaa.com/gp/bestsellers/topartists.asp)


  1. 1984 "Hold Me" #47 US
  2. 1985 "You Give Good Love" #3 US
  3. 1985 "Saving All My Love for You" #1 US, #1 UK
  4. 1985 "How Will I Know" #1 US, #5 UK (1986 release)
  5. 1986 "Greatest Love of All" #1 US, #8 UK
  6. 1987 "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" #1 US, #1 UK
  7. 1987 "Didn't We Almost Have It All" #1 US, #14 UK
  8. 1987 "So Emotional" #1 US, #5 UK
  9. 1988 "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" #1 US, #14 UK
  10. 1988 "Love Will Save the Day" #9 US, #10 UK
  11. 1988 "One Moment in Time" #5 US, #1 UK
  12. 1989 "It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be" (with Aretha Franklin) #29 UK
  13. 1990 "I'm Your Baby Tonight" #1 US, #5 UK
  14. 1990 "All the Man That I Need" #1 US, #13 UK
  15. 1991 "Miracle" #9 US
  16. 1991 "My Name Is Not Susan" #20 US, #29 UK
  17. 1991 "The Star-Spangled Banner" #20 US
  18. 1992 "I Will Always Love You" #1 US, #1 UK
  19. 1993 "I'm Every Woman" #4 US, #4 UK
  20. 1993 "I Have Nothing" #4 US, #3 UK
  21. 1993 "Run to You" #31 US, #15 UK
  22. 1993 "Queen of the Night" #14 UK
  23. 1994 "Something in Common" (with Bobby Brown) #16 UK
  24. 1995 "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" #1 US, #11 UK
  25. 1996 "Count on Me" (with CeCe Winans) #8 US, #12 UK
  26. 1996 "I Believe in You and Me" #4 US, #16 UK (1997 release)
  27. 1996 "Why Does It Hurt So Bad" #26 US
  28. 1996 "Step by Step" #15 US (1997 release), #14 UK
  29. 1998 "When You Believe" (with Mariah Carey) #15 US, #4 UK
  30. 1998 "Heartbreak Hotel" (feat. Faith Evans and Kelly Price) #2 US, #25 UK (2000 release)
  31. 1999 "It's Not Right But It's OK" #4 US, #3 UK
  32. 1999 "My Love Is Your Love" #4 US, #2 UK
  33. 1999 "I Learned From the Best" #19 UK, #27 US (2000 release)
  34. 2000 "If I Told You That" (with George Michael) #9 UK
  35. 2000 "Could I Have This Kiss Forever" (with Enrique Iglesias) #7 UK
  36. 2001 "The Star-Spangled Banner" (re-issue) #6 US
  37. 2002 "Whatchulookinat" #13 UK
  38. 2002 "One Of Those Days" #75 US


Vocal Profile

  • Voice type: Dramatic Mezzo-Soprano
  • Highest note: C6, B-b5 (In her song 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody')
  • Lowest note: C3, E3
  • Vocal range: 3 octaves (C3-C6)

It should be noted that Whitney's voice has darkened as she has aged. In 1985, she probably would have been classified as a Spinto Soprano (as her voice was light, but strong). Although she is still classified as a soprano by many, her voice's darker color is more fitting with the tessitura of the Mezzo.

source1 (http://www.musesmuse.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=2241) source2 (http://www.vocalist.org.uk/vocal_range_key.html)

See also

External links

eo:Whitney HOUSTON nl:Whitney Houston ja:ホイットニー・ヒューストン sv:Whitney Houston


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