What Happened to Whitney Houston?
Today we will take a detailed look inside the most awarded female artist of all time. She’s sold over 200 million records worldwide and was an international superstar. Today’s topic is “What Happened To Whitney Houston?”
Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born on August 9th, 1963, in New Jersey. Her mother was a gospel singer, and one of her brothers was a singer as well. She grew up in the church, and at 11 years old she started singing solo in the junior gospel choir. Her mother, Cissy always gave her singing lessons, and sometimes she went along with her mom while she was on tour with her group, The Sweet Inspirations. At 14 years old, Whitney became a backup singer on the Michael Zager Band’s single “Life’s a Party”. At 15 years old, she sang backup for Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls.
She met her best friend Robyn Crawford in High school, and as Whitney started her rise to stardom, she also became her executive assistant. It was also rumored that the two were lovers, and in 2019, Robyn confirmed after her death that they did have a sexual relationship early in the relationship. But anyways, Whitney began her modeling career in 1980 after she was discovered by a photographer while she was singing with her mother. She was the first black woman to ever be on the cover of Seventeen magazine, and she also did spreads in Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Young Miss.
In 1982, Whitney signed with Tara Productions, and she began recording again. She appeared as a lead vocalist on a single for Paul Jabara and his album released in 1983 by Columbia Records. Later on in 1983, Gerry Griffith, who was an A&R rep for Arista Records, convinced Clive Davis to sign Whitney to a worldwide recording contract. She made her national TV debut on The Merv Griffin Show and performed “Home” which was a song from the musical The Wiz. Before recording her debut album, she collabed with Teddy Pendergrass on single “Hold Me” from his album Love Language and it was a top 5 R&B hit in 1984.
Her debut album Whitney Houston, was released in February 1985. She had high standards for her first album release as the Rolling Stone magazine called her “one of the most exciting new voices in years.” “Saving All My Love for You” became her first number one hit single and “How Will I Know” became another number one single and she made a music video to the single as well. She became the first african-american woman to have singles played on MTV consistently.
About a year later, in 1986, her debut album topped the Billboard 200 and stayed for 14 consecutive weeks. The single “Greatest Love of All” became her biggest hit single, and stayed on the Hot 100 for three weeks. She also broke the record for being the first woman to yield three number one hits with her debut album. She became the number one artist of the year, plus released the number one album of the year as well by the end of 1986. The album went 13x platinum and sold 22 million copies worldwide. At the 1986 Grammy Awards, she was nominated for three awards and won Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for “Saving All My Love for You”. She also won an Emmy Award, seven American Music Awards and a MTV Video Music Award. Her successful breakthrough as an african-american woman artist opened up the door for other great black female artists to be successful as well.
In 1987, Whitney’s second album, Whitney, was released. She became the first woman in history to debut the Billboard chart at number one, and also have top ten hits in multiple countries. Her first single off the album “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” peaked at number one and was an international hit. Some other successful singles off the album were “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”, “So Emotional”, and “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”. The album went 9 times platinum in the U.S and sold 20 million copies worldwide.
In 1988, Whitney won her second Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”. She also won some more American Music Awards, and a Soul Train Award. She went on tour and it became one of the ten highest-grossing concert tours of 1987. Whitney was facing so much stardom and successful, she was named number eight for the highest earning entertainers in Forbes magazine, and she was also the highest earning african-american woman in the U.S.
While Whitney was on tour in Europe, she performed in London for Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday celebration, which raised money for charity. The same year, she recorded a song for the 1988 Summer Olympics, “One Moment in Time”, which appeared on NBC’s coverage of the event.
With many black critics calling her a sell-out, she changed the direction of her third album, I’m Your Baby Tonight. It was released in November 1990 and on the album she collaborated with Babyface, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross and L.A Reid. She showed her versatility with a more urban approach and Rolling Stone labeled the album as “the best integrated album”. The album went four times platinum and sold 10 million copies worldwide.
So in 1991, she performed the national anthem at the Superbowl. Whitney continued to perform and use her earnings to donate to charities of good cause and she even released a single following the September 11th terrorist attack.
Let’s get a little bit into Whitney’s romantic relationships. The most well-known relationship was with singer and producer Bobby Brown. They met at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards, and married three years later. They both dealt with substance abuse and this led to some physical altercations. Although many people claim Whitney had no issues before Bobby came into the picture, it is now proven otherwise. Whitney’s brothers first introduced her to drugs and alcohol and she struggled with it way before the two met. And let’s go back and talk about her “so called” relationship with her executive assistant Robyn. They were intimately involved, but Whitney’s mother didn't approve of the relationship. It’s also believed that if she did stay with Robyn, then she probably would’ve still been alive today. Bobby and Whitney weren’t good for each other apparently, and neither one of them could ever stay sober, and different had encounters of infidelity.
So moving on to Whitney the actress. She became more sought after for films, after her successful three albums made her a star. Her first film role was in The Bodyguard. It was released in 1992, and received mixed reviews. But, despite the negative feedback, it was very successful in the box office and grossed more than $410 million worldwide. She co-produced the movie's soundtrack and “I Will Always Love You” became her signature song. It peaked at number on the charts, went four times platinum and spent a record breaking 14 weeks in the charts.
In 1994, Whitney won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year for the soundtrack for The Bodyguard, plus many more awards. In 1995, she made it back into film starring in another one Waiting to Exhale. It performed well in the box office and grossed $81 million worldwide. She starred in another film How Stella Got Her Groove Back and some Tyler Perry movies as well. Moving on to 1996, she starred in The Preacher’s Wife and played a gospel singing wife of the pastor. After this performance, she became the highest-earning african-american actress in Hollywood. She helped with the movie soundtrack and it sold six million copies worldwide with hit singles “I Believe in You and Me” and “Step by Step”. It became the biggest selling gospel album in music history.
So in 1997, Whitney starred in a remake of Cinderella as the Fairy Godmother, along with Brandy, Whoopi Goldberg, and others. The movie earned an Emmy nomination and over 60 million viewers tuned in to watch the ABC special. It had the highest TV rating on ABC in 16 years.
After eight years, she went back to recording for herself and My Love is Your Love, was released in 1998. It was a bit different from her previous work and had more of a hip-hop, urban vibe to it this time. The album sold 11 million copies worldwide and went four times platinum. Some hit singles from the album include “When You Believe” featuring Mariah Carey, and “Heartbreak Hotel” featuring Faith Evans and Kelly Price. She went on tour after the release of the album and the European leg was the highest grossing europe tour of the year.
In 1999, Whitney was named the Top-selling R&B Female Artist of the Century with 51 million copies sold in the U.S. Towards the end of the 1990’s and early 2000’s, is when Whitney’s struggle with substance abuse started to come into the public lights. She was late to different events and had to cancel some as well. In 2000, her executive assistant Robyn, resigned because Whitney wouldn’t get the proper help she needed. That didn’t stop her from getting her money though because in 2001 she signed one of the biggest record deals in music history with Arista Records. $100 million, for six new albums plus royalties.
In 2002, she released her fifth album, Just Whitney, and she decided to work with her husband at the time, Bobby Brown and not Clive Davis, for the first time. The album showed success and sold two million worldwide. In 2003, she also released a Christmas album, and it went gold doing well on the charts.
In 2006, the troubled couple finally got a divorce and it was finalized in 2007. Fastforwarding a few more years, she had an interview with Oprah and admitted that her and Bobby Brown used drugs and it only became worse over time, She even used drugs while pregnant with her daughter. In 2009, she released her next album, I Look to You. “Million Dollar Bill” was a popular single from the album, and she performed the single on different show appearances. She went on a worldwide tour again in 2010.
So in 2011, she enrolled herself into a rehab center for substance abuse. After her rehab, she starred in the remake of 1976 film Sparkle. Sadly, on February 11th, 2012, Whitney was found dead at The Beverly Hilton Hotel. It was a mysterious death, but there were drugs found in her system at the time of death, which may have caused her to drown. Her death was ruled as an accident. It was definitely a tragic death that rocked the world, and that no one saw coming.
She will always be a music icon who broke barriers for both African-Americans and women in the music industry.