By Sowmya Krishnamurthy
August 9 marks what would have been Whitney Houston’s 50th birthday. The superstar singer was known as one of the greatest voices of our time with seven Grammys, two Emmys and countless hits like “I Will Always Love You” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Whitney’s personal and professional life made headlines throughout her life, especially with ex husband Bobby Brown. She tragically passed away in 2012 but the diva’s legacy will live on. We celebrate some of her most memorable career milestones:
Seventeen: Well before she was a singer, Whitney’s gorgeous looks caught the eye of the fashion world. In 1981, the 18-year-old Whitney graced the cover of Seventeen.
Commercial Appeal: Modeling was just the beginning. Whitney translated her All-American beauty into the small screen even at an early age, appearing in a commercial selling Canada Dry Ginger Ale in 1983.
Debut Album: In 1985, Whitney’s self-titled album debuted to rave reviews. With songs like “Greatest Love of All” “How Will I Know,” it became a commercial and critical success. Rolling Stone said, “With her sleek beauty and her great voice, Whitney Houston is obviously headed for stardom.”
“Saving All My Love for You“: Whitney’s first #1 hit would be the bittersweet ballad “Saving All My Love For You” in 1985. It would be the first of seven #1 hits for her in the U.S. Whitney performed a heartfelt version of the song at the Grammys the next year.
The Hits Keep Coming: Whitney kept the hits coming for years to follow like “I’m Your Baby Tonight” and “All the Man That I Need.” Her music transcended genres from r&b to pop an dshe quickly became one of the biggest stars in the world.
The Star Spangled Banner: “The Star Spangled Banner” is one of the most difficult songs to perform but Whitney made it look effortless at the 1991 Super Bowl. To this day, hers is considered the best version of the song in history. h
“The Bodyguard”: Whitney and Kevin Costner paired up for the romantic drama “The Bodyguard” in 1992. Whitney played a singer being stalked and Costner, her bodyguard and love interest. The film was a box office success and Whitney’s appeal helped the interracial romance gain acceptance in America. The film’s soundtrack was a massive success and its single “I Will Always Love You” has become Whitney’s signature song ever since. The single peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for a then-record-breaking 14 weeks. The single sold over four million copies and made Whitney one of the best selling female artists in US history.
“Waiting to Exhale“: In the mid-late 90s, Whitney continued to flex her talents in Hollywood by appearing in a wide variety of movies. Whitney joined an ensemble cast for the romantic cult classic “Waiting to Exhale” alongside Angela Bassett. She then did the family film “The Preacher’s Wife” with Denzel Washington and “Cinderella” with protege Brandy.
Comeback: Personal issues would plague the singer for much of the remainder of her career, but Whitney was a fighter and staged more than one comeback. In 1998, she released the hit “My Love Is Your Love” and incorporated a younger sound by collaborating with the likes of Rodney Jerkins, Missy Elliott, and Lauryn Hill. The duet “When You Believe” with fellow diva Mariah Carey became a fan favorite, showcasing two divas at the top of their game.
In 2009, she staged another comeback with I Look to You, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts and sold over 300,000 copies in its first week. Whitney seemed optimistic about the future and by 2011 and 2012, she working on a music and film comeback before she died.