Friday, 24 June 2016

Whitney Houston

Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American singer, actress, producer, and model. In 2009, Guinness World Records cited her as the most awarded female act of all time. Houston is one of pop music's best-selling music artists of all-time, with an estimated 170–200 million records sold worldwide. She released seven studio albums and three movie soundtrack albums, all of which have diamond, multi-platinum, platinum or gold certification. Houston's crossover appeal on the popular music charts, as well as her prominence on MTV, starting with her video for "How Will I Know", influenced several African American women artists who follow in her footsteps.

Houston is the only artist to chart seven consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits. She is the second artist behind Elton John and the only woman to have two number-one Billboard 200 Album awards (formerly "Top Pop Albums") on the Billboard magazine year-end charts. Houston's 1985 debut album Whitney Houston became the best-selling debut album by a woman in history. Rolling Stone named it the best album of 1986, and ranked it at number 254 on the magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Her second studio album Whitney (1987) became the first album by a woman to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

Houston's first acting role was as the star of the feature film The Bodyguard (1992). The film's original soundtrack won the 1994 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Its lead single, "I Will Always Love You", became the best-selling single by a woman in music history. With the album, Houston became the first act (solo or group, male or female) to sell more than a million copies of an album within a single week period under Nielsen SoundScan system. The album makes her the top female act in the top 10 list of the best-selling albums of all time, at number four. Houston continued to star in movies and contribute to their soundtracks, including the films Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher's Wife (1996). The Preacher's Wife soundtrack became the best-selling gospel album in history.

On February 11, 2012, Houston was found dead in her guest room at the Beverly Hilton, in Beverly Hills, California. The official coroner's report showed that she had accidentally drowned in the bathtub, with heart disease and cocaine use listed as contributing factors. News of her death coincided with the 2012 Grammy Awards and featured prominently in American and international media.

After years of controversy and turmoil, Houston separated from Bobby Brown in September 2006, filing for divorce the following month. On February 1, 2007, Houston asked the court to fast track their divorce. The divorce was finalized on April 24, 2007, with Houston granted custody of the couple's daughter. On May 4, Houston sold the suburban Atlanta home featured in Being Bobby Brown for $1.19 million. A few days later, Brown sued Houston in Orange County, California court in an attempt to change the terms of their custody agreement. Brown also sought child and spousal support from Houston. In the lawsuit, Brown claimed that financial and emotional problems prevented him from properly responding to Houston's divorce petition. Brown lost at his court hearing as the judge dismissed his appeal to overrule the custody terms, leaving Houston with full custody and Brown with no spousal support. In March 2007, Clive Davis of Arista Records announced that Houston would begin recording a new album. In October 2007, Arista released another compilation The Ultimate Collection outside the United States.

Houston performing "My Love Is Your Love" with her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown on Good Morning America, September 1, 2009
Houston gave her first interview in seven years in September 2009, appearing on Oprah Winfrey's season premiere. The interview was billed as "the most anticipated music interview of the decade". Whitney admitted on the show to using drugs with former husband Bobby Brown, who "laced marijuana with rock cocaine". She told Oprah that before The Bodyguard her drug use was light, but after the film's success and the birth of her daughter it got heavier, and by 1996 "doing drugs] was an everyday thing... I wasn't happy by that point in time. I was losing myself."

Houston released her new album, I Look to You, in August 2009. The album's first two singles were the title track "I Look to You" and "Million Dollar Bill". The album entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1, with Houston's best opening week sales of 305,000 copies, marking Houston's first number one album since The Bodyguard, and Houston's first studio album to reach number one since 1987's Whitney. Houston also appeared on European television programs to promote the album. She performed the song "I Look to You" on the German television show Wetten, dass..?. Three days later, she performed the worldwide first single from I Look to You, "Million Dollar Bill", on the French television show Le Grand Journal. Houston appeared as guest mentor on The X Factor in the United Kingdom. She performed "Million Dollar Bill" on the following day's results show, completing the song even as a strap in the back of her dress popped open two seconds into the performance. She later commented that she "sang herself out of her clothes".

The performance was poorly received by the British media, and was variously described as "weird" and "ungracious", "shambolic" and a "flop". Despite this reception, "Million Dollar Bill" jumped to its peak from 14 to number 5 (her first UK top 5 for over a decade), and three weeks after release I Look to You went gold. Houston appeared on the Italian version of The X Factor, also performing "Million Dollar Bill", this time to excellent reviews. Houston was later awarded a Gold certificate for achieving over 50,000 CD sales of I Look to You in Italy. In November, Houston performed "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" at the 2009 American Music Awards in Los Angeles, California. Two days later, Houston performed "Million Dollar Bill" and "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" on the Dancing with the Stars season 9 finale. As of December 2009, I Look to You has been certified platinum by the RIAA for sales of more than one million copies in the United States. On January 26, 2010, her debut album was re-released in a special edition entitled Whitney Houston – The Deluxe Anniversary Edition.

On February 9, 2012, Houston visited singers Brandy and Monica, together with Clive Davis, at their rehearsals for Davis' pre-Grammy Awards party at The Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills. That same day, she made her last public performance, when she joined Kelly Price on stage in Hollywood, California, and sang "Jesus Loves Me".
Two days later, on February 11, Houston was found unconscious in Suite 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, submerged in the bathtub. Beverly Hills paramedics arrived at approximately 3:30 p.m. and found the singer unresponsive and performed CPR. Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. PST. The cause of death was not immediately known. Local police said there were "no obvious signs of criminal intent." On March 22, 2012, the Los Angeles County coroner's office reported the cause of Houston's death was drowning and the "effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use." The office stated the amount of cocaine found in Houston's body indicated that she used the substance shortly before her death. Toxicology results revealed additional drugs in her system: diphenhydramine, alprazolam, cannabis and cyclobenzaprine. The manner of death was listed as an "accident."

Houston's debut album is listed as one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine and is on Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Definitive 200 list. In 2004, Billboard picked the success of her first release on the charts as one of 110 Musical Milestones in its history. Houston's entrance into the music industry is considered one of the 25 musical milestones of the last 25 years, according to USA Today in 2007. It stated that she paved the way for Mariah Carey's chart-topping vocal gymnastics. In 1997, the Franklin School in East Orange, New Jersey was renamed to The Whitney E. Houston Academy School of Creative and Performing Arts. In 2001, Houston was the first artist to be given a BET Lifetime Achievement Award. Houston is one of pop music's best-selling music artists of all-time, with an estimated 170–200 million records sold worldwide. She was ranked as the fourth best-selling female artist in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America, with 55 million certified albums sold in the US, and held an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities from Grambling State University, Louisiana. Houston was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2013. In August 2014, Houston was inducted to the official Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in its second class.

On April 27 2016, it was announced that the British Academy Award winning film director Kevin Macdonald, who created Marley (2012) and the production team, Altitude, behind the controversial award-winning film about Amy Winehouse, Amy (2015), that a documentary film on Whitney Houston's life and death, entitled simply as Whitney is in progress and is scheduled to be released in 2017. This is the first documentary to be officially authorized by the estate that will tell the unvarnished and authentic story of the singer’s life in a film, including access to never-before-seen footage of Houston, exclusive demo recordings, rare performances and audio archive. Macdonald also will interview those who knew her best, including Clive Davis, founder and president of Arista Records. Macdonald stated; "The story that is never told about Whitney is just how brilliant she was as an artist; by many measures she had the greatest voice of the last 50 years. She changed the way pop music was sung - bringing it back full circle to its blues and gospel roots. She was also completely unique in being a black pop star who transcended her race globally with her work sold in countries where black artists don’t sell."

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