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Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963—February 11, 2012) was an American singer, actress, producer and a former model. In her prime, Houston -- the cousin of pop singer Dionne Warwick -- was known as the "Queen of Pop" and "The Voice". Houston was the most awarded female act of all time, according to Guinness World Records. Her list of awards includes 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010.
Her early peak came in the mid-to-late 1980s, when she had a record seven No. 1 hits in a row -- in order, "Saving All My Love for You", "How Will I Know", "Greatest Love of All", "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)", "Didn't We Almost Have It All", "So Emotional", and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go."
In the early 1990s, she branched out into acting, starring in the acclaimed film The Bodyguard (1992) alongside Kevin Costner. The movie's original soundtrack won the 1994 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Its lead single, "I Will Always Love You" (yes, that one, written by Dolly Parton) became pop music's best-selling single by a female vocalist.
Married to R&B singer Bobby Brown from 1992-2006, drug use took its toll on Houston's voice, career as a whole and health. She attempted a few comebacks in the 2000s, but she continued to be the subject of many tabloid stories suggesting drug binges and other escapades. She died February 11, 2012, drowning in her bathtub due to heart disease and cocaine use.
- Whitney Houston (1985)
- Whitney (1987)
- I'm Your Baby Tonight (1990)
- My Love Is Your Love (1998)
- Just Whitney (2002)
- One Wish: The Holiday Album (2003)
- I Look to You (2009)
- But Not Too Black/Pop Culture Isolation: Notably, her debut started being played only in white A/C radio stations while avoiding Urban Radio stations. Until that point, black artists either had to cross over.
- Dead Artists Are Better: Houston sold over 170 million records in her career, but just like Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse, she spent the last decade of her life as a pop-culture joke, being ridiculed constantly for her problems with drugs & alcohol and increasingly erratic behavior, not to mention her tumultuous relationship with Bobby Brown. Shortly after her death, sales of her records soared, tributes to her began to pour out and jokes about the problems she had were largely forgotten.
- Incredibly Long Note: She was noted for this. The most (in?)famous is "And IIIIIIIII-ee-IIII will always love yoooooooouuuuuuuuu...."
- Lyrical Dissonance: Her version of "I Will Always Love You" is not a silly love song or a I'm happy I found you song, it's a sad lost, break up song, try telling that to the many people who make it their wedding/relationship song.
- Melismatic Vocals: A crowning example.
- The Rival: Mariah Carey. However, this was mostly made up, and after her death Mariah was one of the first to respond with her condolences. They also collaborated on the song "When You Believe" for The Prince of Egypt soundtrack.
- Not that they didn't have a little fun with this. During the 1998 VMA's, they were scheduled to present an award together, and walked out from opposite sides of the stage... in the same dress. Rather than get upset (since the whole thing was staged), they both Took a Third Option, both ripping the dresses to make them different.
- Signature Song: "I Will Always Love You", "Saving All My Love for You"
- Self-Titled Album: Two, Whitney Houston and follow-up Whitney.
- Textless Album Cover: My Love Is Your Love.
- Vocal Evolution: Well, "evolution"'s not exactly the word here, but the drugs changed her voice drastically in the 2000s.