Under the tutelage of Arista Records’ Clive Davis, the Houston took the music world by storm when she released her self-titled debut album in 1985.
The daughter of gospel vocalist Cissy Houston and a cousin of Dionne Warwick, Whitney started out as a teen model before becoming a household name in music, thanks to hits such as “You Give Good Love,” “How Will I Know,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “The Greatest Love of All.” She went on to release more successful albums and became a crossover success, which led to film roles in The Bodyguard (1992) and Waiting to Exhale (1995). She may be best remembered for calming a jittery nation on the eve of the first Gulf War with her overwhelming 1991 Super Bowl performance of the national anthem.
But her career, which brought her six Grammy Awards in the ’80s and ’90s, eventually fell prey to drug abuse and a tumultuous marriage to fellow singer Bobby Brown.
From the moment Houston married Bobby Brown in 1992, the public considered it an odd pairing — he was the bad boy from Boston who’d broken away from New Edition to launch a solo career, and she was the classy pop princess. Despite vows that their love was real, the marriage began to show signs of trouble when reports of drug use and domestic violence started surfacing. Their daughter Bobbi Kristina was born in 1993.
In perhaps one of the most telling incidents, Houston and Brown famously appeared in an interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002, during which Houston denied allegations of using crack cocaine and dared viewers to prove it with “receipts.”
Houston’s career was all but over by the mid-2000s — the press focused on the numerous stories on her alleged crack use and strained relations with Bobbi Kristina, and she hadn’t released an album of new material in nearly a decade. She divorced Brown in 2007.
But in the summer of 2009, after years of promising a comeback, Houston officially kicked of a publicity trek for a new disc titled I Look to You. Advance reviews raved about it, and in public appearances she looked healthier and happier than she had in years.
Last year, Houston signed a deal to star in a remake of the ’70s cult film Sparkle, playing Jordin Sparks‘ mother. Shooting was nearly complete, but there’s no word about its release.
Though Brown has children from other relationships, Houston only leaves behind daughter Bobbi Kristina.