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Whitney Houston Biography


Home > Music > H > Houston, Whitney > Biography


Birth Name: Whitney Elizabeth Houston
Born: 1963/08/09
Birth Place: East Orange, New Jersey
Years Active: 1977–present
Genres: R&B, Pop, Dance, Soul, Gospel


Whitney Houston (born Whitney Elizabeth Houston, August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American R&B/pop singer, actress and former fashion model. A relative of several prominent soul singers, including her mother Cissy Houston, cousins Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick and godmother Aretha Franklin, Houston began singing at her New Jersey church as a member of a junior gospel choir at age 11. After she began performing alongside her mother at night clubs in the New York City area, she was discovered by Arista Records label head Clive Davis.

In 1983, Houston signed a recording contract with Arista Records and began recording music for her self-titled debut album, which was released in February 1985. Eventually it topped the Billboard 200 Albums chart for fourteen weeks in 1986 and generated three #1 singles, “Saving All My Love for You,” “How Will I Know” and “Greatest Love of All,” on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, making it the first debut album and the first album by a female artist to achieve that feat. It was certified 13× platinum (diamond) by the RIAA for shipments of over thirteen million copies in the United States, making her the first female artist to reach the 10× platinum mark. It has sold 25 million copies worldwide and became the best-selling debut album of all time by a female artist.

In 1987, Houston released her second album, “Whitney,” and set remarkable chart records with it. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, becoming the first album by a woman to do so in history. Moreover, the album spawned four Hot 100 #1 singles with”I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “Didn't We Almost Have It All,” “So Emotional” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” which established an unprecedented seven consecutive #1 hits by a performer. It was certified 9× platinum by the RIAA and topped the charts in numerous countries around the world, with worldwide sales of over 22 million copies.

Houston's third studio album, 1990’s “I'm Your Baby Tonight,” peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 and sold 12 million units globally, being certified 4× platinum by the RIAA. The title track, “I'm Your Baby Tonight,” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for a week, becoming Houston's eighth #1 single on the chart.

“The Bodyguard,” the soundtrack from her film debut, was released in 1992. The album contained tracks by other recording artists but is considered a “Whitney Houston” album by Billboard magazine and the RIAA. The album topped the Billboard 200 for 20 non-consecutive weeks, the longest tenure by any album on the Billboard 200 chart in the Nielsen SoundScan era. It was also reached the #1 on the albums chart in almost all countries. The album was certified 17× platinum (her second diamond album) in the U.S. and sold over 44 million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling soundtrack album and one of the top 5 best-selling albums of all time.

The lead single from the soundtrack, “I Will Always Love You,” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks and was certified 4× platinum by the RIAA, making her the first and only female artist to reach the level. Like the soundtrack, the single peaked at #1 on the charts in nearly every country and sold 12 million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling single of all time by a female artist.

After Houston contributed to three songs, “Exhale (Shoop Shoop),” “Count on Me” and “Why Does It Hurt So Bad,” on the 7× platinum album, “Waiting to Exhale Soundtrack” in 1995, she released her third film's accompanying gospel soundtrack, “The Preacher's Wife” in 1996. The soundtrack was certified 3× platinum by the RIAA and became the biggest selling gospel album of all time, with worldwide sales of six million units.

In 1998, she released her first studio album in eight years, “My Love Is Your Love.” The album failed to match the chart records of her previous albums, peaking at #13, her lowest chart position on the Billboard 200 among her studio albums. The album generated five hit singles including three Top 5 Hot 100 hits, “Heartbreak Hotel,” “It's Not Right But It's Okay” and the title track, “My Love Is Your Love,” became Houston's third best-selling single ever. “My Love Is Your Love” went on to achieve multi-platinum status being certified 4× platinum by the RIAA.

Houston entered the 2000s with her first greatest hits compilation, “Whitney: The Greatest Hits,” released in 2000. The double-disc was certified 3× platinum by the RIAA, recognizing 1.5 million shipments throughout the U.S. The album reached the Top 10 in many worldwide markets, selling 10 million copies globally.

After renewing her contract with Arista for a record $100 million in 2001, Houston released her second compilation album “Love, Whitney” in 2001 outside of the U.S.

In 2002, “Just Whitney...” became her fifth studio album. The album failed to earn multi-platinum status, receiving only a platinum award, and became her lowest-selling studio album to date.

She released her first Christmas album, “One Wish: The Holiday Album” in 2003. 2007’s “The Ultimate Collection,” not released in the U.S., was Houston's third compilation album.

In 2009, Houston returned the top position of the Billboard 200 with “I Look to You,” becoming her fourth #1 album on the chart, which was her first non-soundtrack #1 in 12 years, since 1987's “Whitney.” It also topped the album charts of several European countries and was certified platinum by the RIAA.

On February 11, 2012, Houston was found dead at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills. She was 48 years old.

Houston was the most awarded female artist of all time, according to Guinness World Records, with two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010. She held the all-time record for the most American Music Awards of any female solo artist and shared the record with Michael Jackson for the most AMAs ever won in a single year with eight wins in 1994. Houston won a record 11 Billboard Music Awards at its fourth ceremony in 1993. Houston was also one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 200 million albums and singles worldwide. Although she released relatively few albums, she was ranked as the fourth best-selling female artist in the United States by the RIAA, with 55 million certified albums sold in the U.S. alone.