Gone too Soon: A tribute to songstress and actress Ms. Whitney Elizabeth Houston

By Teonantra “Patrice” Manley

On February 11, 2012, the world was devastated by the news of the shocking and untimely death of songstress Whitney Houston.

As posts filled Facebook and twits overloaded Twitter, fans of this music legend were bewildered about the truth to the rumors of Whitney Houston’s passing.

Within minutes after media sources verified the rumors, the world was immediately in mourning over this unexpected tragedy.

According to Whitney Houston’s official website, Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born on August 9, 1963 in Newark, New Jersey. Her mother, gospel singer Cissy Houston and cousins nurtured Whitney’s passion for gospel music from birth.

As a teenager, Whitney had already begun singing on the scene in New York, and records of her first young performances began in the 1970s and early ’80s.

In 1983, after record label Arista’s first mega-successful decade in operation, Founder Clive Davis was taken to a New York nightclub where Whitney Houston was performing and without hesitation Davis signed Houston to Arista Records on the spot.

From that day forth, Clive Davis would not only be known as the man who signed music icon Whitney Houston, but he became her mentor and lifelong friend.

Two years went into the making of Houston’s debut album, but the results were well worth the hard work and time.

The self-titled album Whitney Houston was released March 1985 and launched Arista’s second decade. The album produced a string of hits including “You Give Good Love” and three consecutive #1 singles, the Grammy-winning “Saving All My Love for You,” “How Will I Know,” and “The Greatest Love of All.”

Not only did the album establish Houston as an up and coming new recording artist, it went on to sell over 12 million copies in the U.S. and many millions more abroad.

Houston’s breakthrough album set the record as the biggest selling debut album by a solo artist. Houston later continued a collection of hit albums in the years following her hit debut.

After establishing herself as a recording artist, Whitney made her movie debut in box the office hit, The Bodyguard which debuted November 1992; Houston co-starred with Oscar-winning actor Kevin Costner who also spoke on behalf of the singer at her funeral.

The film not only broke box office records worldwide but was ultimately responsible for the biggest selling motion picture soundtrack album of all time and was the Grammy-winning Album of the Year.

The Bodyguard soundtrack is one of the top 10 biggest-selling albums of all-time, at 17-times platinum in the U.S., it is the biggest selling motion picture soundtrack album in history, ahead of Saturday Night Fever, Forrest Gump and Titanic according to the popular box office site, Box Office Mojo.

Whitney’s career-defining version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” from the same Bodyguard soundtrack is the biggest-selling U.S. single of all-time.

Houston’s follow-up movie Waiting to Exhale debuted in 1995 with actresses, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Lela Rochon, went on to gross over $70 million.

The soundtrack for Waiting To Exhale featured three new tracks from Houston: the #1 Pop/R&B “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)”; The album spent five weeks at #1, was certified 7x-platinum in the U.S., and has sold nearly twice that worldwide to date.

n an article dated 2/12/12 by MTV News, Houston married playboy and R&B singer Bobby Brown on July 18, 1992; fans were baffled of the union between the two, mainly because of Brown’s bad boy reputation.

Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown met April 12, 1989, at the Soul Train Music Awards. Houston was absolutely smitten with her new husband and immediately spoiled him with the luxuries she had worked so diligently to obtain.

In 2009, Whitney gave her own take of things in an explosive sit-down with Oprah Winfrey. Houston openly admitted to physical and drug use and instead of blaming Bobby, seemed to join him in unanimity.

Houston also stated, “He was my drug,” she said. “I didn’t do anything without him. I wasn’t getting high by myself. It was me and him together, and we were partners, and that’s what my high was — him. He and I being together, and whatever we did, we did it together. No matter what, we did it together.”

Houston gave birth to their first and only child together Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown on March 4, 1993. As rumors of drug use and infidelity on the side of Bobby Brown began fill the rumor mills and headlines. Houston’s career started to spiral out of control.

Whitney and Brown had a tumultuous relationship which resulted in alleged physical abuse, drug and alcohol binges. Rumors of obsessive drug use between the duo lead to financial hardships for Houston.

Houston filed for divorce on October 18, 2006 after 14 years of marriage. The divorce from her estranged husband was finalized on April 24, 2007.

True to her church upbringing, the Whitney Houston Foundation For Children Inc. was established in 1989 as a non-profit organization that cares for such issues as homelessness, children with cancer and AIDS, and other issues of self-empowerment. In June 1995, the Foundation was awarded a VH1 Honor for its charitable work.

In the aftermath of the World Trade Center disaster of September 11, 2001, Whitney’s soaring rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” (from Greatest Hits) was the first benefit single to be issued, coupled with her version of “America the Beautiful.”

The Whitney Houston Foundation For Children, Inc. and Arista Records agreed to donate royalties and net proceeds from all single sales to the New York Firefighters 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund and the New York fraternal Order of Police.

Whitney’s assiduous efforts have earned recognition from such organizations as St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the United Negro College Fund, and the Children’s Diabetes Foundation.

The Guinness Book of World Records lists Whitney as music’s “most awarded female artist of all time,” with an amazing total of 411 awards (as of 2006). A tally that is also topped by her two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards, and 23 American Music Awards, NAACP Image Awards, BET Awards, “Soul Train” Music Awards, and so on.

According to Newsone.com, on February 11, 2012, famed singer Whitney Houston was found unresponsive in her hotel room at the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel.

Details confirming the cause of Houston’s death were not finalized, but it is believed to be a result of a mix of alcohol and prescription drugs.

Whitney Elizabeth Houston was a humanitarian, mother, daughter, sister and friend. Her legacy will forever live in the hearts of her family, friends and fans.

Whitney has won her worldwide following the old-fashioned way, by digging deep down into her soul and finding common threads with her millions of fans. Whitney Houston you will be greatly missed.