Whitney Houston was born into a musical milieu. Her father was an entertainment executive, while her mother, a Gospel singer. Her godmother was Darlene Love, and her honorary aunt was Aretha Franklin. In her maturity, she grew to outshine the stars that surrounded her in her youth.
And now, there will be a movie to tell her story.
The period of obscurity in Whitney Houston’s life was relatively brief. She evoked ecstatic responses from the congregation of New Hope Baptist Church, where her mother, Cissy Houston, was the choir minister, even as a child.
Houston would later remark that these rapturous responses were the first signs of her musical gifts, calling her voice “an infectious thing that God gave me.”
While performing with her mother at Carnegie Hall when she was just 15, she caught the eye of a fashion photographer. In a short time, she became the first woman of color to appear on the cover of Seventeen. She would go on to appear on the covers of Glamour and Cosmopolitan while pursuing her musical ambitions.
In 1983, at just 19, Houston was discovered by Gerry Griffith. He was an A&R representative from Arista Records then, who saw her performing in a New York City nightclub.
Griffith then convinced Clive Davis, head of Arista Records, to watch her perform, and the rest is history. Davis immediately signed Houston, but work on her eponymous debut album would be delayed until Jones could find the right assortment of producers for Houston.
Following her signing to Arista, Houston made her national television debut when she appeared on The Merv Griffin Show to perform “Home” from the musical The Wiz. After this, Houston began work on her debut album, with producers Michael Masser, Kashif, Jermaine Jackson, and Narada Michael Walden.
Whitney Houston was released in 1985 to immediate commercial and critical success. The album featured two hit singles, “Saving All My Love For You” and “How Will I Know,” which launched it to #1 on the charts for 14 non-consecutive weeks. In 1986, she would win a Grammy for “Saving All My Love For You.”
Her second album (also eponymous), entitled Whitney, was released in 1987, again to great commercial and critical success. It went platinum many times over and produced the hit single “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me).”
In 1989, Houston began her notoriously toxic relationship with R&B singer Bobbi Brown after meeting him at the Soul Train Music Awards of that year. They would eventually marry in 1992, the same year that Houston’s iconic rendetion of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” was released. That song is the best-selling single of all-time by a female artist, selling 20 million copies.
The song’s release coincided with the release of the commercially successful film The Bodyguard, starring Houston herself and Kevin Costner. Houston’s rendition was then released on the immensely popular soundtrack for that movie, on which Houston produced six tracks. The movie-soundtrack tandem would prove to be Houston’s musical and business strategy throughout the 90s. She would go on to star in and produce songs for several films throughout the decade, including Waiting To Exhale and The Preacher’s Wife.
The Star Dims
In the late 90s and early 2000s, Houston’s career began to be troubled by domestic, drug, and health struggles. A show Being Bobby Brown was produced in 2004, which publicized her domestic troubles. Despite this, Houston released two albums during this period, My Love Is Your Love and Just Whitney, to decent commercial and critical success. It led Guinness to crown her the most awarded female artist ever in 2006.
Houston and Brown would eventually divorce in 2007. After their breakup, Houston began working on her album I Look To You, which was eventually released in 2009. Still struggling with drug addiction, despite attempts from her friends and family to help her, Houston died from accidental drowning in 2012, at age 48.
Biopic In The Works
The woman who once starred in films will have one made about herself. Whitney Houston’s biopic will be produced, in part, by the man who signed Houston, Clive Davis, and it will be written by biopic extraordinaire, Anthony McCarten, who also wrote the biopics The Theory of Everything, The Darkest Hour, and Bohemian Rhapsody.
It seems Houston’s life is in capable and trustworthy hands with McCarten, and we’re anxious to see what drama, beauty, and truth he extracts from her complicated, star-studded life.