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Whitney Houston

50s 60s 70s 80s 90s 00s 10s
Born: 8/9/1963

Whitney Houston
Wrote lyrics
Performed songs

Born in Newark, New Jersey.

Always more of a singles artist, Houston largely shied away from albums during the '90s, releasing the bulk of her most popular material on the soundtracks of films in which she appeared.  By the end of the decade, she'd gone several years without a true blockbuster, yet her status as an icon was hardly diminished.

Her mother was gospel/R&B singer Cissy Houston, and her cousin was Dionne Warwick.  By age 11, Houston was performing as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at her Baptist church; as a teenager, she began accompanying her mother in concert (as well as on the 1978 album Think It Over), and went on to back artists like Lou Rawls and Chaka Khan.

Houston also pursued modeling and acting, appearing on the sitcoms Gimme a Break and Silver Spoons.  Arista president Clive Davis heard Houston singing at a nightclub and offered her a record contract.  Her first single appearance was a duet with Teddy Pendergrass, "Hold Me," which missed the Top 40 in 1984.

Her first feature film, a romance with Kevin Costner called The Bodyguard, was released in late 1992; it performed well at the box office, helped by an ad campaign which seemingly centered around the climactic key change in Houston's soundtrack recording of the Dolly Parton-penned "I Will Always Love You."  In fact, the ad campaign undoubtedly helped "I Will Always Love You" become the biggest single in pop music history. It set new records for sales (nearly five-million copies) and weeks at number one (14).  Meanwhile, the soundtrack eventually sold an astounding 16-million copies, and also won a Grammy for Album of the Year.

Once Houston had stopped raking in awards and touring the world, she prepared her next theatrical release, the female ensemble drama Waiting to Exhale.

For her next project, Houston decided to return to her gospel roots; the soundtrack to the 1996 film The Preacher's Wife, which naturally featured Houston in the title role, was loaded with traditional and contemporary gospel songs, plus guest appearances by Houston's mother, Shirley Caesar, and the Georgia Mass Choir.  Houston also began making headlines for what appeared to be increasing unreliability, cancelling several TV and concert appearances due to illness.

In 1998, Houston finally issued a new, full-length album, "My Love Is Your Love," her first in eight years.  Houston worked with pop/smooth soul mainstays like Babyface and David Foster, but also recruited hip-hop stars like Missy Elliott, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Q-Tip.  The album sold even fewer copies than "I'm Your Baby Tonight," but it received Houston's most enthusiastic reviews in quite some time.  Moreover, it produced one of her biggest R&B chart hits (seven weeks at number one) in the trio number "Heartbreak Hotel," done with Faith Evans and Kelly Price.  She also duetted with Mariah Carey on "When You Believe," a song from the animated film The Prince of Egypt.

Later in the year, Arista released the two-disc compilation Greatest Hits, which actually featured one disc of hits and one of remixes; it also included new duets with Enrique Iglesias, George Michael, and Deborah Cox.  It was also announced that Houston had signed a new deal with Arista worth 100-million dollars, requiring six albums from the singer.

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