Synopsis of Pop Music
“And I decided long ago,
Never to walk in anyone's shadows,
If I fail, if I succeed,
At least I will live as I believe...”
From her stunningly gorgeous looks to her effortless charisma, few artists fit the profile of a diva as perfectly as Whitney Houston. More importantly, she has the voice to back up this image: It spans five octaves and sounds glorious whether it is wrapped around a sad ballad or a joyous pop tune. Over the last fifteen years, Houston has used this lovely voice to create some of the biggest hits of this era. In the process, she’s become the most important diva since Diana Ross.
Whitney Houston was destined for stardom from an early age. She had Dionne Warwick for an aunt and grew up singing gospel under the tutelage of her mother, the legendary gospel star Cissy Houston. As a young woman, she divided her time between modeling for magazines like Madamoiselle and working as a back-up vocalist for the likes of Chaka Khan. Houston got her big break when she was singled out for stardom by Clive Davis, the head of Arista Records. He gathered up a top-flight collection of songwriters, producers and musicians to help her record a can’t-miss debut album.
The result was the Whitney Houston album, a #1 smash that made Houston a superstar at the age of 22. It carefully blended slick, danceable pop like “How Will I Know” with soulful slow numbers like “Saving All My Love For You” to create a collection of songs that scored with both pop and r&b audiences. As a result, both of these songs became #1 hits. “The Greatest Love Of All,” a true diva anthem, was also released as a single and gave the album its third #1 hit. Houston went on to tour for two years and also won a Grammy for her performance on “Saving All My Love For You.”
Whitney Houston had enjoyed phenomenal success by this point, but there was more to come. Her 1987 album, Whitney, became the first album by a female artist to enter the charts at #1 and also scored an immediate #1 pop hit with the bouncy, disco-styled “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Houston when on to score three more #1 singles with the Broadway-styled “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” the energetic pop tune “So Emotional” and the ballad “Where Do Broken Hearts Go.” This made her the first artist to have seven consecutive #1 hits, thus breaking a record set by the Beatles and the Bee-Gees.
In 1988, Houston headlined a birthday tribute for Nelson Mandela in England. She also continued to score hits with the dance-floor stormer “Love Will Save The Day” and the inspirational ballad “One Moment In Time.” The latter song was also used extensively for coverage of the 1988 Olympics and became ‘the’ theme song for many athletes. In 1989, she established her own charity, the Whitney Houston Foundation For Children. Houston is also a frequent contributor to such charities as the Children’s Diabetes Fund and the United Negro College Fund.
Whitney Houston released her third album, I’m Your Baby Tonight, in 1990. The album’s title track, which mixed the passion of a torch song with cutting-edge r&b production, soon became a #1 single. She also went to #1 with “All The Man That I Need,” a trademark Houston ballad. In 1991, Houston performed a rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the 25th Super Bowl. Her version caught the mood of patriotism sparked in America by the Gulf War and this led to it being rush-released as a single. It quickly became a Top-20 hit and Houston donated the proceeds to the Gulf Crisis Fund.
In 1992, Houston turned her attention to the world of film. She made her film debut in The Bodyguard as a music superstar under the protection of a dashing security man played by Kevin Costner. It became a massive hit with audiences and spawned an equally successful soundtrack album. On this album, Houston performed her version of a Dolly Parton classic, “I Will Always Love You.” Her soaring vocal on this song clicked with pop listeners and made it the biggest hit of her career. It stayed at #1 for 14 weeks and made the The Bodyguard the most successful soundtrack album of all time.
Whitney Houston scored additional Top-5 hits from The Bodyguard soundtrack with a remake of the disco classic “I’m Every Woman” and “I Have Nothing.” This soundtrack also won three Grammy Awards in 1993. In 1994, she undertook a world-tour that was a sold-out hit at every stop. She returned to movie screens in 1995 with Waiting To Exhale, an ensemble drama about four African-American female friends. Houston also recorded the film’s richly-harmonized theme song, “Exhale (Shoop Shoop).” This single entered the charts at #1 and helped make both the soundtrack and the film a big hit.
In 1996, Houston played the title role in the romantic comedy The Preacher’s Wife. The film’s soundtrack had a strong gospel edge and spawned a Top-5 hit in “I Believe In You and Me.” In 1998, she released My Love Is Your Love, her first non-soundtrack album in nearly a decade. It was a surprisingly funk-heavy collection that featured guests as diverse as Faith Hill and Wyclef Jean. Houston also lent her vocals to the soundtrack of The Prince Of Egypt, singing a duet with fellow diva Mariah Carey on the Oscar-winning “When You Believe.”
Whitney Houston scored hits through the end of the decade with a cover of “Heartbreak Hotel” and the sleek “It’s Not All Right, But It’s OK.” She also performed alongside the likes of Cher and Tina Turner for the VH1 Divas ‘99 television special. Most recently, she has released a 2-CD Greatest Hits album that shows she has racked up enough chart-topping singles for more than one career. It also features several new tracks that show Whitney Houston has the staying power necessary to be the queen of divas for years to come.
Artist Release History1985 - Whitney Houston
1987 - Whitney
1990 - I'm Your aby Tonight
1998 - My Love Is Your Love
2000 - Whitney Houston: Unauthorized
Pop Sub Categoriespop
Essential Music AlbumsWhitney Houston (Arista)
Whitney: The Greatest Hits (Arista)