Whitney Houston

Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award

Whitney Houston in just five years became a singing star of major international stature. Since the release of her debut Arista album, “Whitney Houston,” she won two Grammys, 11 American Music Awards and two Emmy Awards.

With her single, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” she established an all-time record as the only artist ever to achieve a run of seven consecutive number one hits. Her two albums, “Whitney Houston” and “Whitney,“with global sales of well over 30 million, are also record breakers. The first continues unchallenged as the best-selling debut album ever by a solo performer. And on July 18, 1987, the second LP became the first by a female artist to debut on the album charts at number one. The only others with albums to debut in the top spot were Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder.

Whitney Houston’s training began in her pre-teen years when she became involved in gospel singing under the expert guidance of her mother, Cissy Houston, one of the major figures in the world of gospel music. As in the case of both her mother as well as her cousin, Dionne Warwick, gospel singing provided a powerful musical foundation for Whitney. Her mother also taught her the tried and true studio techniques that she herself had perfected through her long and successful career.

By the time she was 15, Whitney was doing background vocals on record dates with such artists as Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls as well as in her mother’s concert and night club engagements. This, in turn, led to Whitney’s performing solo numbers in the show. At almost the same time, Whitney was busy developing a separate career as a model for various fashion magazines and had her first cover at the age of 18 for Seventeen magazine.

In 1984, she recorded the hit “Hold Me” with Teddy Pendergrass. The song written and produced by Michael Masser became a smash on both the pop and R&B charts. Developments quickly moved forward in her career when Arista Records president, Clive Davis signed Whitney to her first and only recording contract, and immediately set about assembling an impressive ensemble of producers, songwriters and musicians to work with her on her first album.

The resulting album, titled, “Whitney Houston,” yielded the number one hits “Saving All My Love For You,” and “How Will I Know” and “The Greatest Love of All.”

For her second album, Whitney was reunited with the same stellar cast that produced her record-breaking first album, Grammy winners, Narada Michael Walden and Michael Masser. Walden, producer of the earlier hit, “How Will I Know,” produced seven tracks on the new album, including the first hit single, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me),” which went to number one on the singles charts. He also produced the album’s only duet, “I Know Him So Well,” which Whitney sang with her mother Cissy.

Masser, who has produced “The Greatest Love of All” and “Saving All My Love for You,” wrote and produced “You’re Still My Man,” and “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” which became Whitney’s fifth consecutive number one hit. In addition Arista Records recording artist Kashif produced, “Where You Are,” and the only newcomer, Jellybean Benitez, produced “Love Will Save the Day.”

Whitney Houston, despite the rigors of her recording and concert schedules, involved herself with various charities, and in particular, ones which are geared toward education and children. She received an honorary doctorate from Grambling University in Louisiana and did benefit concerts for scholarship funds at both Grambling and Southern Universities.

She has had a long commitment to the United Negro College Fund and appeared at the UNCF tribute to Sammy Davis, Jr. in honor of his 65th anniversary in show business. Also, in her only concert appearance in 19HS, she performed at Madison Square Garden, raising a quarter of a million dollars for UNCF. The UNCF bestowed their founders award upon Whitney in recognition of her support. She also appeared in two major AIDS benefits, including Arista Records’ 15th anniversary show at Radio City and for The Warwick Foundation.

In January of 1990, Whitney toured Japan, to sold-out crowds in seven cities.

Whitney Houston passed away in 2012.