Whitney Houston was an incredible vocalist and one of the best-selling artists of all time. But how much do you really know about her? Here are some Whitney Houston facts that even hardcore music fans probably won’t all know.
Whitney Houston Facts
- Whitney Houston’s full name is Whitney Elizabeth Houston.
- She was born in Newark, New Jersey on August 9, 1963.
- Her parents were John Russell Houston Jr., a Newark city administrator, and Emily Drinkard, a Grammy award-winning gospel singer.
- Houston is the youngest of three children. Her two older brothers are Gary and Michael. Her half-brother Gary is the oldest. His father is Freddie Garland from her mother’s first marriage.
- Houston’s father was a World War II Army veteran.
- Cissy Houston isn’t her mother’s real name. Her mother was born Emily Houston, but her nickname is Cissy.
- Her godmother was singer Darlene Love, lead singer of the 1960 girl group The Blossoms.
- Houston is the cousin of Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick.
- Houston’s management company, Nippy Inc., was named after a childhood nickname. Her father called her “Nippy” when she was a baby.
- Her favorite cereal was Fruity Pebbles.
- Houston’s family moved from Newark, NJ to nearby East Orange, NJ after the Newark riots in 1967. She was only 4 years old at the time.
- In the early 1970s, Houston met Aretha Franklin in a recording studio when she was only about 9 or 10 years old. The relationship grew between their families and Franklin eventually became Houston’s honorary aunt.
- Houston’s first solo musical performance was in 1973 when she was only 11 years old. She sang “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, NJ.
- In 1977, at age 14, she became a backup singer on the Michael Zager Band‘s single “Life’s a Party”.
- Houston’s parents got legally separated in 1977 but didn’t fully divorce until 1991.
- When Houston was only 15-years-old, she had the opportunity to sing background vocals for Chaka Khan‘s hit 1978 single, “I’m Every Woman.” Years later, Houston covered the song as an adult.
- While a young teenager, Houston also sang back-up vocals on albums by Jermaine Jackson and Lou Rawls.
- From 1978-1981, Houston attended Mount Saint Dominic Academy, a Catholic girls’ high school in Caldwell, NJ.
- Was Whitney Houston bisexual? Yes. Houston met her best friend, Robyn Crawford, at Mount Saint Dominic Academy. The two were roommates and secret lovers, but Houston ended the relationship fearful of other people’s reactions. However, the two stayed very close and Crawford would go on to become Houston’s best friend and personal assistant.
- In the early 1980s, a photographer noticed Houston while she was singing with her mother at Carnegie Hall and offered her some modeling work. Houston went on to pose for several women’s magazines including Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Young Miss. She was also one of the first African-American women ever to be on the cover of Seventeen magazine.
- Her modeling career wasn’t just limited to print magazines, Houston also made several appearances in TV commercials. Her first-ever commercial was for Canada Dry ginger ale. She would later appear in commercials for Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola, Sanyo, and AT&T.
- Houston turned down an offer to be on The Cosby Show because she wanted to be a singer more than an actor. Houston was being considered for the role of the oldest sister on the show, Sondra Huxtable. The role of Sondra would go to the actress Sabrina Le Beauf.
- In 1983, Gerry Griffith, an A&R representative from Arista Records, saw Houston perform with her mother in a New York nightclub. He convinced his boss at Arista Records, Clive Davis, to go to one of her next shows. Davis was so impressed that he signed Houston to a record deal and was the main driving force behind her quick rise to stardom.
- In 1983, Clive Davis brought Houston to The Merv Griffin Show to make her national televised debut. She performed “Home”, a song from the musical The Wiz.
- Did Michael Jackson date Whitney Houston? No, but his brother did. In 1984, Jermaine Jackson produced and sang duets with Whitney Houston on her debut album. Jackson was married at the time but had a secret affair with Houston while making the record. After the affair, they remained good friends.
- When Houston was only 22-years-old, her debut album, titled Whitney Houston (1985), peaked at #1 on the top Billboard albums chart. It stayed there for 14 non-consecutive weeks thanks to the heavy radio airplay of her hit songs “Saving All My Love for You” and “How Will I Know.”
- Her debut album is one of Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums Of All Time“.
- According to a 2001 interview on MTV, Houston claimed that MTV repeatedly denied her organization’s attempts to get the music video for “You Give Good Love” from Houston’s debut album into rotation. At the time, MTV rarely played videos by minorities. However, MTV accepted the video for Houston’s song “Saving All My Love for You” after it became a huge crossover hit. In the interview, Houston said, MTV “had no choice but to play (the video) and I love it when they have no choice.” By the time the video for her third US single, “How Will I Know“, was released, Houston became the first African-American woman to receive heavy rotation on MTV.
- She won her first Grammy in 1986 for the song “Saving All My Love for You.” The award was presented to Houston by her cousin, Dionne Warwick.
- In 1987, Michael Jackson wanted Whitney Houston to record “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” with him. His request was denied.
- Houston’s second album, Whitney (1987), also peaked at number one on the United States’ Billboard 200.
- Whitney Houston’s first two albums, Whitney Houston (1985) and Whitney (1987), are two of the best-selling albums of all time.
- Whitney Houston is the only artist to have seven consecutive number-one Billboard Hot 100 hits: “Saving All My Love for You,” “How Will I Know,” “Greatest Love of All,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” “So Emotional”, and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”.
- In 1989, Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston recorded the duet “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be.”
- Houston sang “The Star Spangled Banner” at Super Bow; XXV in 1991 during the Gulf War. The recording was so moving that it was released as a single that went platinum.
- During the 1980s, Whitney Houston dated American football player Randall Cunningham and actor Eddie Murphy.
- She met R&B singer Bobby Brown, formerly of New Edition, in 1989 at the Soul Train Music Awards.
- After dating for three years, Houston and Bobby Brown got married on July 18, 1992.
- Whitney’s favorite color was purple, so the entire bridal party wore attire in the hue. Groomsmen even wore purple tuxedos with matching custom-made alligator dress shoes.
- Whitney Houston acted in several movies during her career including The Bodyguard (1992), Waiting to Exhale (1995), The Preacher’s Wife (1996), Cinderella (1997), and Sparkle (2012).
- Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Olivia Newton-John, Madonna, Debbie Harry, Janet Jackson, Terri Nunn, Kim Carnes, and Dolly Parton were all considered for the role of Rachel Marron in the 1992 film, The Bodyguard. Kevin Costner, who was also a producer on the film, wanted Whitney Houston in the role. He also didn’t want her to take acting lessons. He wanted Houston to act naturally and just be herself.
- The Bodyguard grossed more than $121 million in the US and $410 million worldwide.
- Houston recorded six songs for The Bodyguard soundtrack including her mega-hit single “I Will Always Love You“, which became the best-selling physical single by a female artist in history. It also earned Houston several Grammy Awards for album of the year, record of the year, and best female pop vocal performance.
- The Bodyguard is still the best-selling soundtrack album of all time.
- Houston suffered a miscarriage in 1992 while filming The Bodyguard, but retuned to the set the next day. She talked to Barbara Walters about her experience in 1993.
- On March 4, 1993, Houston gave birth to her only child, Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown.
- In October 1994, Houston attended and performed at a state dinner in the White House honoring newly elected South African president Nelson Mandela.
- Houston starred in and recorded the soundtrack for The Preacher’s Wife (1996). It is the best-selling gospel album of all time.
- 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.
- Bobby Brown was charged with battery in 2003 after a fight with Houston left her with facial injuries.
- In 2004, husband Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston starred in a reality TV program, Being Bobby Brown. In one infamous episode from 2005, they discussed how Bobby helped Houston remove a bowel blockage with his hand. Houston proclaimed, “That’s black love!”
- Houston went to rehab in both 2005 and 2006.
- Brown and Houston divorced in 2007 after a tumultuous, drug-fueled 14 years together.
- Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, attempted suicide in May 2008.
- Oprah Winfrey interviewed Houston in September 2009. During the interview, Houston revealed that her drug use was light before The Bodyguard. But after the film’s tremendous success, by 1996, drug use became an “everyday thing.”
- In 2009, Houston launched a comeback tour. By April 2010, there were multiple media reports that Houston was using drugs again. Houston called the reports “ridiculous.” In May 2011, Houston enrolled in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.
- She has sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, placing her in a unique category with Eminem, Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, Queen, Eagles, Celine Dion, AC/DC and The Rolling Stones.
- Her mezzo-soprano vocal range earned her the nickname, “The Voice” and is credited with influencing fellow divas including Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Alicia Keys, and Beyoncé among others.
- Houston won six Grammy’s, 30 Billboard music awards, and 22 American Music Awards in a 25-year career. According to the Guinness Book of Records, she was the most-honored female singer with more than 400 awards.
- She dreamed of retiring by 2012. Diane Sawyer of ABC News interviewed Houston in 2002. When asked about her future in 10 years, Houston said she saw herself, “Retired. Sitting, looking at my daughter grow up, become a great woman of God, and grandchildren.”
- On February 9, 2012, Whitney Houston made her last public appearance, joining Kelly Price on stage in Hollywood. California to sing “Jesus Loves Me”.
- On February 11, 2012, Houston was found dead in Suite #434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. How did Whitney Houston die? She accidentally drowned in her bathtub after becoming unconscious while using cocaine.
- Whitney Houston was 48 years old at the time of her death.
- Her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, learned of Houston’s death only a few hours before taking the stage at a previously scheduled concert in Mississippi. During the concert, Brown was observed blowing kisses into the sky and tearfully saying “I love you, Whitney.”.
- An invitation-only memorial for Whitney Houston held on February 18, 2012, at the New Hope Baptist in Newark, New Jersey.
- Whitney Houston was buried on February 19, 2012, at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, NJ. She is buried next to her father, who died in 2003.
- Houston was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January 2020.
- In March 2020, Houston’s 1992 cover of Dolly Patron’s song “I Will Always Love You” was added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. This collection preserves music that has made a significant contribution to American history.
How Much Is Whitney Houston Worth?
With over 200 million records sold worldwide, Whitney Houston is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time. Houston released seven studio albums and two soundtrack albums, all of which have been certified diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
|NET WORTH:||$ 21 Million|
|Occupation:||Singer, songwriter, model, actress|
|Born:||August 9, 1963|
|Died:||February 11, 2012|
|Spouse:||Bobby Brown (Divorced)|
|Children:||1 (Bobbi Kristina)|
|Birth Name:||Whitney Elizabeth Houston|
|Height:||5 ft 7 in (1.71m)|