Feb 12, 2012

The rise of a superstar

                                              Whitney was destined for stardom

Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born to a middle class family in Newark, New Jersey in 1963.
She was the third and youngest child of Army serviceman and entertainment executive John Russell Houston, Jr., who passed away in 2003, and gospel singer Cissy Houston.
           Whitney is seen here with her mother Cissy and late father John Russell Houston, Jr. in 1985 
Her cousins Dionne Warwick and the late Dee Dee Warwick, and also her godmother Aretha Franklin all made a huge mark on he gospel and R&B scene.
Whitney first became interested in being in the music industry after frequently accompanying her mother Cissy who often performed in nightclubs.
Sometimes the teen would even take to the stage herself and perform.
Houston was offered her very first recording contract at the age of 14 by Michael Zanger, after she wowed him with her back-up singing on a record for his group, Michael Zanger band.


Whitney, seen here in 1984, accompanying her mother Cissy  
But she was forced to turn it down as her mother determined that she should instead finish school.

However, in the years that followed she lent her voice to albums of both American soul, jazz, and blues singer Lou Rawls and Michael Jackson's father Jermaine Jackson.

Naturally stunningly beautiful, Houston began dabbling in modelling after being spotted by a fashion photographer whilst she was performing with her mother.

                           Whitney was close friends with the late King Of Pop Michael Jackson
She went on to become the first ever woman of colour to appear in a fashion magazine after gracing the pages of Seventeen magazine in the early Eighties.
Subsequently she appeared in Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Young Miss magazines, and also in a TV advertisement for Canada Dry soft drink.
It was around that time when music mogul Clive Davis first heard Houston perform.

The time that I first saw her singing in her mother's act in a club ... it was such a stunning impact,' the American record producer told Good Morning America.
'To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song. I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine.'
Houston made her album debut in 1985 with the self-titled record Whitney Houston. 

                   Houston often graced the covers and pages of several fashion magazines 

Other tracks such as How Will I Know, You Give Good Love and The Greatest Love of All also went on to become giant hits. 
Another multi-platinum album, Whitney, came out in 1987 and included hits like Where Do Broken Hearts Go and I Wanna Dance With Somebody.
The New York Times wrote that Houston 'possesses one of her generation's most powerful gospel-trained voices, but she eschews many of the churchier mannerisms of her forerunners.

She uses ornamental gospel phrasing only sparingly, and instead of projecting an earthy, tearful vulnerability, communicates cool self-assurance and strength, building pop ballads to majestic, sustained peaks of intensity.'
Her decision not to follow the more soulful inflections of singers like Franklin drew criticism by some who saw her as playing down her black roots to go pop and reach white audiences.
The criticism would become a constant refrain through much of her career. She was even booed during the Soul Train Awards in 1989.

Sometimes it gets down to that, you know?' she told Katie Couric in 1996. 'You're not black enough for them. I don't know. You're not R&B enough. You're very pop. The white audience has taken you away from them.'
Some saw her 1992 marriage to former New Edition member and soul crooner Bobby Brown as an attempt to refute those critics. 
It seemed to be an odd union; she was seen as pop's pure princess while he had a bad-boy image, and already had children of his own.
The couple went on to have a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993.

It would take several years, however, for the public to see that side of Houston.
Her moving 1991 rendition of The Star Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl, amid the first Gulf War, set a new standard and once again reaffirmed her as America's sweetheart.
In 1992, she became a star in the acting world with The Bodyguard.
Despite mixed reviews, the story of a singer guarded by a former Secret Service agent, played by Kevin Costner was an international success.
It also gave her perhaps her most memorable hit: a searing, stunning rendition of Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You, which sat atop the charts for weeks.

The couple went on to have a daughter, Bobbi Kristina in 1993, here she is seen with her mother at a boxing match in 2008

                                   Here she is seen with former husband Bobby Brown in 2006

But during these career and personal highs, Houston began using drugs.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2010, she said by the time The Preacher's Wife was released, '(doing drugs) was an everyday thing. ... I would do my work, but after I did my work, for a whole year or two, it was every day. ... I wasn't happy by that point in time. I was losing myself.'
In the interview, Houston blamed her rocky marriage to Brown, which included a charge of domestic abuse against Brown in 1993. They divorced in 2007.
Houston would go to rehab twice before she would declare herself drug-free to Winfrey in 2010.
                                   Houston declared herself drug-free to Oprah Winfrey in 2010

Canceled concert dates raised speculation that she may have been abusing drugs, but she denied those claims and said she was in great shape, blaming illness for cancellations.
Recently Houston appeared to be battling her demons once more.
She was spotted looking worse for wear earlier this week in Hollywood, California after enjoying a party with friends.
The superstar singer had been a guest at the Kelly Price & Friends Unplugged: For The Love Of R&B Grammy Party at Tru Hollywood and had even performed during the night.