On June 27, 1987, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston Hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song went on to earn Houston a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance. The legendary singer paved the way for other black female artists to conquer the pop charts. To date, Houston has sold over 200 million records worldwide and ranks as one the most-awarded female artist of all time. On July 6, “Whitney,” a documentary about the life and career of the legendary superstar, will premiere in theaters.
Singing and performing was woven into Houston’s DNA. Born on August 9, 1963, in Newark, NJ, she was the daughter of gospel/R&B singer Cissy Houston. Additionally, her godmother was Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick was her cousin. By age 14, Houston was singing backup for her mother at nightclubs around the country. She also emerged as a popular teen model, becoming one of the first women of color to grace the cover of Seventeen magazine.
In 1983, Houston’s talent was discovered by the head of Arista Records, Clive Davis, when she was performing with her mother at a New York City nightclub. Arista released her self-titled debut album in February 1985. Including fun dance-pop songs, jazzy tunes and emotional ballads, the album showcased Houston’s extraordinary vocal range. She became the first female artist to have a debut album generate three Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits with “Saving All My Love For You,” “Greatest Love of All” and “How Will I Know.” The music video for “How Will I Know” made Houston one of the first black female artists to be put on heavy rotation on MTV.
Houston’s second album, “Whitney,” made music history as the first album by a female artist to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The lead No. 1 single, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me),” was followed up with three other hit songs, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and “So Emotional.”
By the late 90s, Houston’s personal struggles with substance abuse, as well as her rocky marriage to Bobby Brown, began to interfere with her singing career.
In 2009, Houston seemed poised for a comeback with her album, “I Look To You.” In one of the singles from the album, “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength,” she sings about her recovery: ”Survived my darkest hour/My faith kept me alive/I picked myself back up.” Sadly, despite her efforts, Houston was unable to overcome her demons. On February 11, 2012, she passed away at 48 years old. Fans around the world mourned the loss of America’s pop diva.