Whitney Houston, (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012), R&B/pop singer.

Whitney Houston was one of the most gifted and successful singers of all time. She was born into a very musical family, including her mother, gospel singer Cissy Houston, cousin Dionne Warwick, and godmother Aretha Franklin. She grew up singing in the church choir before being discovered by record executive Clive Davis. Her vocal range, power, and control seemed effortless and positioned her for an unparalleled career as the most decorated female singer in history, including an Emmy and 6 Grammy awards.

During the 80’s and 90’s, she was the reigning Queen of Pop, and like the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, she helped break down the color barrier on radio and MTV with a run of hit songs that were more mainstream pop than straight up rhythm and blues. Her first two albums produced a record 7 consecutive #1 hit singles. She went on to record “One Moment in Time” for the 1988 Olympics, which became a Top 5 hit. One of the biggest moments in her career was her performance of The Star-Spangled Banner at Superbowl XXV in 1991. She later branched out into acting, starring in The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale, Cinderella, and The Preacher’s Wife. (Her final film role is in the upcoming Sparkle, which will be released to theaters later this year.) Her recording of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You for The Bodyguard soundtrack set a record for holding the #1 spot on the Billboard charts for 14 weeks and remains her most popular hit. Throughout her career, she contributed her time and talents to many humanitarian causes, including anti-apartheid efforts and support for Nelson Mandela in South Africa, the American Red Cross, and the United Negro College Fund.

Like jazz great Billie Holiday before her, Whitney Houston’s later years were marked by many personal struggles, including a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, and problems with drug and alcohol abuse. She made a comeback album and tour in 2009, but drug use had taken its toll on her once powerful voice. Despite these issues, she often turned to the faith of her earlier years, including a pilgrimage to Israel, where she was baptized. Her soundtrack for The Preacher’s Wife gave her a legitimate hit  gospel album. Fittingly, her last performance on stage was at a pre-Grammy party, where she sang  Jesus Loves Me. Two days later, she was found unresponsive in her motel room. The legendary Tony Bennett remembered her as “the greatest singer I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Visit the official Whitney Houston website here.