TW: Drug abuse, Death
This week will end as usual: with another informative article provided by us, and our amazing team of writers, to you. Today’s article is again on someone you probably all know already: the famous singer Whitney Houston.
Even though we all know her incredible voice and especially the love song we all, definitely speaking for myself here, have tried to sing at least once, there is more to learn about the singer than you might expect. For example did you know that Aretha Franklin was her honorary aunt? Houston’s fame had many advantages, like she could use it for charity work or that she was someone who set important first steps for women of colour in the entertainment industry. But it also had it’s dark sides.
Read more about the woman with an amazing voice and journey with a tragic ending in the full article below!
Whitney Houston| *09-08-1963 | †11-02-2012 | USA | Singer, Actress
Now regarded as one of the greatest artists of all time, Whitney Houston started her journey singing in church. Whitney was born on August 9th 1963 in Newark, New Jersey. Her parents, John Russel and gospel singer Emily ‘’Cissy’’ Drinkard, were both African-American. Through her mother she was connected to several singers, her honorary aunt being Aretha Franklin. When she was eleven, she started to perform as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at the New Jersey Hope Baptist Church in Newark. Her mother continued to teach her how to sing, whilst Whitney was still in school. Her mother was a member of The Sweet Inspirations, who opened and sang backup for Elvis Presley. Whitney spent some of her teen years touring the nightclubs where her mother was performing; occasionally Whitney would join her on the stage.
In the early eighties, Whitney started working as a fashion model. She became the first woman of color to appear on the cover of Seventeen. She also appeared in Glamour, Cosmopolitan and a TV commercial. In 1983 she signed a worldwide recording contract offered by Gerry Griffith, a representative from Arista Records. Her debut album was released in February 1985. It was a massive success, so she kept touring nightclubs for promotion and performed on late-night television talk shows. A year after its initial release, her debut album topped the Billboard 200 albums chart and stayed there for 14 weeks total. The single ‘Greatest Love of All’ became a No. 1 hit and stayed on the Hot 100 chart for three weeks. This made Houston’s debut the first album by a woman to yield three No.1 hits. She was also the first woman to be No. 1 artist of the year with a No. 1 album of the year. Because of Whitney’s breakthrough, doors were opened for other African-American women.
Whitney was a supporter of Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement. On June 11th 1988, Houston performed at the Wembley Stadium to celebrate the 70th birthday of Nelson Mandela. Over $1 million was raised for charities while bringing awareness to apartheid.
In 1989, Whitney met R&B singer Bobby Brown and the two married on July 18th 1992. In 1993 their first and only child was born, Bobbi Kristina Brown. Whitney’s behavior changed by 1999 and 2000. Before, she was seen as a ‘good girl’ with a perfect image, but she started coming late to interviews, photo shoots, rehearsals and appearances were cancelled. The combination of missed performances and weight loss led to rumors about Whitney using drugs with her husband. In December 2003 Bobby Brown was charged with battery after threatening and assaulting Whitney. She separated from him in 2006 and filed for divorce. It was finalized in 2007 and Whitney got custody of their daughter. In her first interview after years in 2009, she revealed to Oprah Winfrey that by 1996, “doing drugs” was an everyday thing and that her husband was emotionally abusive during their marriage. In May 2011 Houston went to a rehabilitation center, again because of drug and alcohol problems.
Whitney made her last public performance on February 9th 2012. Two days later, on February 11th, she was found unconscious in Suite 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, submerged in the bathtub. On March 22 it was reported that her death was caused by drowning and the effects of coronary heart disease and cocaine use.
Whitney Houston was considered to be a ‘’singer’s singer”, who had an influence on countless other vocalists. She was also the most awarded female artist of all time 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.
Author: Hilke Cranenbroek