Celebrated as the “greatest singer of her generation,” Whitney Houston’s accomplishments in music were unparalleled.
Whitney Houston’s musical upbringing is one of the most storied in the business, and she seemed destined for greatness. Her mother, Cissy Houston—a vocalist who supported artists from Elvis to Aretha Franklin—provided Whitney with expert training from a young age. Through her mother and cousin Dionne Warwick, Houston heard and saw the best performers in the business. “When I started singing,” she once said, “it was almost like speaking.”
Houston’s effortless vocal skill attracted interest from multiple labels, and at the age of nineteen was signed by Clive Davis to Arista Records in 1983. Her debut album netted three #1 singles: “Saving All My Love for You,” “How Will I Know,” and “The Greatest Love of All” and topped the Billboard 200 for fourteen weeks.
Houston’s ability to connect with audiences set dozens of industry records: the first artist to have seven consecutive #1 hits, the longest-reigning #1 single on the Hot 100 (“I Will Always Love You”), and the first woman to enter the Billboard 200 at #1 (Whitney). Her awards—numerous enough to achieve a nod from Guinness World Records—included an Emmy and six Grammys.
Houston’s voice was as versatile as it was powerful, and her catalog shows a unique ability to incorporate a range of stylistic elements spanning pop, rock, gospel, R&B, funk, soul, and hip-hop. She moved from ballads that showcased her vocal range like “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” to dance tracks like “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me).” Her sound expanded through collaborations with a wide array of artists, including Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Babyface, Missy Elliott, Bobby Brown, and Mariah Carey. Covers of her songs and tributes since her passing in 2012 have come from all corners of the industry, and her voice lives on through the younger generations inspired by her work.
“How Will I Know,” “Saving All My Love for You,” Whitney Houston (1985) · “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)," “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” Whitney (1987) · “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” “All The Man That I Need,” I’m Your Baby Tonight (1990) · “I Will Always Love You,” The Bodyguard (1992) · “Exhale (Shoop Shoop),” Waiting To Exhale (1995) · “My Love Is Your Love,” My Love Is Your Love (1998) · “You Light Up My Life,” Just Whitney (2002) · “Million Dollar Bill,” I Look to You (2009)