Today (February 11th) we remember the life of Whitney Houston — who died on this day back in 2012 at the age of 48. The music icon was found dead in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. The cause of death was accidental drowning, but cocaine use and heart disease contributed to her death. Whitney was preparing to attend Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy party at the time of her death.
Whitney Houston is known as the most awarded female artist in music history. In her almost 30 year career, Whitney won two Emmy awards, six Grammys, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards. Her album Whitney was the first female album to debut at number 1 on the Billboard Charts. She has sold 200 million albums worldwide.
Music and marriage to Bobby Brown
Singer, actress, producer and model, Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born on August 9th, 1963 in Newark, N.J to John Russell Houston, Jr. and Cissy Houston. Whitney's mom Cissy was gospel singer and back up singer. Her godmother was Aretha Franklin and Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick were her cousins. By age 11, Whitney started performing as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at the New Hope Baptist Church.
By the time she was a teen, Whitney was singing back up for Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls. Around this time, she embarked on a modeling career, and she became one of the first African-American women to grace the cover of Seventeen Magazine and was also featured in Glamour Magazine.
In 1983, at age 19, Whitney was discovered by Clive Davis was signed to Arista Records. Her 1985 debut album Whitney Houston spawned three no. 1 singles, “Saving All My Love For You,” — for which she won her first Grammy, “How Will I Know,” and “The Greatest Love of All.” Her debut single “You Give Good Love” peaked at no.3 on the Billboard Hot 100. With her debut album, Whitney became a huge crossover star.
Whitney's follow up album Whitney was released in 1987, and delivered hits like “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “Didn't We Almost Have It All,” “So Emotional,” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go.” Whitney won her second Grammy for or Best Female Pop Vocal Performance “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
- In 1990, she released her third album I'm Your Baby Tonight, which spawned the hits “I'm Your Baby Tonight,” “All the Man That I Need,” “Miracle,””My Name Is Not Susan” and the Stevie Wonder duet “We Didn't Know.”
- At the 1991 Superbowl, Whitney famously performed “The Star Spangled Banner.” Due to overwhelming response, it was released as a commercial single. She became the only act to turn the national anthem into a pop hit.
- Whitney met Bobby Brown at the 1989 Soul Train Awards. The two began dating and was married by 1992. On March 4, 1993, Whitney gave birth to her only child, Bobbi Kristina.
In 1992, Whitney tried her hand at acting with the film The Bodyguard alongside Kevin Costner. The film was a huge success, grossing more than $121 million in the U.S. and $410 million worldwide. The lead single from the soundtrack I Will Always Love You became a global success, hitting number one in almost all countries, going four times platinum and becoming one of the most successful songs of all time — garnering The Bodyguard album three Grammys.
In 1995, Whitney starred in Waiting To Exhale, which opened at no.1 and grossed $67 million in the US at the box office and $81 million worldwide. The accompanying soundtrack was produced by Whitney and Babyface, and spawned hits like “Exhale (Shoop)”, Whitney's duet with CeCe Winans “Count On Me” and “Why Does It Hurt So Bad.” The album went platinum seven times. In 1996, she starred in the comedy The Preacher's Wife alongside Denzel Washington. Houston earned $10 million for the role, making her one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood at the time and the highest earning African American actress in Hollywood.
- After a long hiatus, Whitney released her album My Love Is Your Love in 1998, which sold four million copies. In 2000, she released a greatest hits album.
By the late 90's, rumors started circulating that Whitney was using drugs with her husband Bobby Brown. The pop diva started displaying erratic behavior, like missing concert performances, running hours late for interviews, etc.
In 2001, she renewed her contract with Arista/BMG for $100 million to deliver six new albums. Later that year, she made an appearance on Michael Jackson's: 30th Anniversary Special. Her extremely thin frame further fueled even more rumors of drug use.
In 2002, Whitney did an interview with Diane Sawyer to promote her then-upcoming album, Just Whitney. During the prime-time special, the singer spoke on topics including rumored drug use and marriage. When asked about her reported drug use, she said, “First off 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 whack.”
- Just Whitney debuted at no. 9 on the Billboard 200 chart and it had the highest first week sales of any album Whitney had ever released.
- In February 2003, Whitney's father John Houston died. In this same year, Whitney released her first Christmas album entitled One Wish: The Holiday Album.
- In 2005, Whitney's husband Bobby starred in his own reality show Being Bobby Brown — which didn't show the couple in the best light. In 2006, Whitney filed for divorce from Bobby. The divorce was granted in 2007.
Whitney Returns to Music
After years of being out of the spotlight, Whitney returned in 2009 with I Look To You. The singer claimed that she was clean and sober. In September of that year, in an interview, she admitted to Oprah that she and Bobby did drugs together.
- In 2010, Whitney embarked on The Nothing But Love tour — her first tour in ten years. Poor reviews and rescheduled concerts brought in some more negative media attention for the diva.
Whitney returns to rehab, shoots Sparkle
In May 2011, Whitney returned to rehab, as an outpatient, citing drug and alcohol problems. In September, it was announced that Whitney was set to produce and star in a remake of the 1976 film Sparkle. Shooting wrapped from the film in November. She was also set to star in the upcoming sequel to Waiting to Exhale.
- In her last interview with Access Hollywood, Whitney Houston said that her daughter is her inspiration. She said, “I got 30 years under my belt. 30 years in the music industry itself. There'll be the ups and there will be the downs. But, your belief and your faith and your determination and the people that believe in you to do and be the best you can. It is a blessing to have a mother that is very strong and family that surround me and constantly tell me they love me. And my daughter is my greatest inspiration. My greatest.”
- In 2009, Whitney tells Oprah that Bobby Brown was her drug: “He was my drug. I didn't do anything without him. I wasn't getting high by myself. It was me and him. We were partners. And that's what my high was him. Me and him being together. Whatever we did, we did it together, no matter what.”
- Whitney on dealing with the pressure of success: “I suppose it could put a lot if I tried to outdo it . . .I don't think that way. I think about doing quality work.”
- Whitney accepts award at 2010 BET Honors: “It is amazing, it is a wonderful, marvelous feeling to be looked at and not judged. (Applause). Judged not for your flaws but for your triumphs.”
- Bobby Brown reacts to Whitney's death onstage with New Edition: “I would like to say, I love you Whitney.”
- Clive Davis says Whitney would have wanted show to go on: “Whitney was a beautiful person and she had a talent beyond compare. She graced this stage with her regal presence so many times, giving so many memorable performances here over the years. So simply put, Whitney would have wanted the music to go on and her family asked that we carry on.”
- Whitney's last performance at Kelly Price's pre-grammy party: “Oh Lord…ohhhhh.”