Whitney Houston was born to a musically talented family. Her dad, John Houston, was an entertainment executive and mom, Cissy Houston, an accomplished gospel singer. Her aunts and cousins also reached the top in the recording industry.
At the age of 4, the Houston family moved to East Orange, New Jersey and Whitney began performing at the age of 11 as a soloist in the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. She attended an all girl's Catholic high school. Her mother continued to teach Whitney how to sing and during that time, she included Gladys Knight and Roberta Flack as major influences in her future singing career. She would often sing at her mother's performances during her teenage years. She sang back up to various performers including Chaka Khan and Khan's hit single I'm Every Woman." She also backed up Lou Rawls and Jermaine Jackson.
During the early 80's, Houston worked as a fashion model after a photographer noticed her during a concert at Carnegie Hall. She would soon find herself on the covers of Seventeen, Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Young Miss magazines. She was also featured on a few television commercials. She continued recording songs that included "You Give Good Love" that was chosen as a lead single. She was also a guest on late night television talk shows. Her song "Saving All My Love for You" was her first number one hit single in both the United States and the UK.
During the 1986 Grammys, Houston was nominated for three awards including Album of the Year. She won her first Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for "Saving All My Love for You" and that was the start of a lifetime of recognition and honors. Her debut album is listed as one of Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time as well as Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's Definitive 200 list. Other hit songs over the years include "How Will I Know" "We Almost Have It All" "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" and "I'm Your Baby Tonight" She will always be remembered for her rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" following the September 11, 2001 tragedy. The release of "I Will Always Love You" became the biggest selling commercial single in history.
Whitney not only had an unmatchable singing career, but she would soon become an outstanding actress as well. Her memorable performance with Kevin Costner in "The Bodyguard" is recognized for both her singing and acting ability. She was also nominated for her performance in "The Preacher's Wife." and appeared in the remake of "SPARKLE" in 2011.
She had television roles on several programs including "Gimme A Break!" "As the World Turns" "Silver Spoons" and "Boston Public"
Whitney Houston was working on a remake of a Judy Garland film and also planning to film a sequel to "Waiting to Exhale."
On February 9, 2012, Whitney was attending a pre-Grammy awards party with Clive Davis and singers Brandy and Monica at the Beverly Hills Hilton. Two days later on February 11, 2012, Whitney Houston was found unconscious in her Suite 434 that resulted in her death having been discovered submerged in water in her bathtub. Following an investigation, the cause of her death was accidental drowning caused by atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use.
Her body was flown back to the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey.
An invitation-only memorial service (program and invitations pictured) was held on Saturday, February 18, 2012 in the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark where Whitney grew up. The service lasted nearly four hours and was televised throughout the United States.
Among those who eulogized Whitney were Tyler Perry, Bishop T.D. Jakes and co-star of "The Bodyguard" Kevin Costner. Music performers included Stevie Wonder who sang "A Ribbon In The Sky" Aretha Franklin "The Greatest Love Of All" and the service ended with Whitney's own recording of "I Will Always Love You"
|Whitney's memorial program|
The following morning, Whitney Houston was laid to rest in a private burial service in Westfield, New Jersey's Fairview Cemetery next to her father, John Russell Houston.