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Whitney Houston (1963-2012): The day music lost The Voice

On Saturday, February 11, 2012, news of singer Whitney Houston's death travelled thick and fast throughout the world from the fourth-floor suite of a hotel in the Beverly Hills, California, where she was found dead. Four artistes share their earliest memories of The First Lady of Song



Ehsaan Noorani, musician
My first exposure to Whitney Houston was in 1985, when I was in Los Angeles studying music. The song was Saving All My Love For You. The two things that struck me instantly were the lyrics and Whitney's looks. I thought she looked so exotic! She has had a holistic influence on most musicians, and has set very high standards for singers. She sang from her soul.
My favourite Whitney Houston song: Saving All My Love for You



Anushka Manchanda, singer
I was very young when I first heard I Will Always Love You. I watched The Bodyguard in bits and pieces and then my father bought us the audio CD for it. I was amazed by her voice and very taken in by how her mouth moved when she sang! My mum always talked about how much power there was in her voice when we heard her songs, and now that I'm older, I also hear the immense control. There is something for every singer to learn from that. She inspired a generation of young singers and brought some serious weight to Pop music. Here was a diva who was not all fluff and packaging. She was absolutely pure talent.
My favourite Whitney Houston song: It's a toss up between I'm Every Woman and I Wanna Dance With Somebody



Usha Uthup, singer
My first memory of Whitney Houston was when I was at home one day and the TV was on. I heard this amazing voice. I dropped whatever I was doing and went running to the TV. The song was I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Whitney could take any note to another level; her body language was so vibrant; she was a package of dynamite. Everybody can't sing [like] her. You can appreciate her, admire her, wish that you could have the range she had, but that's it. There is no way that I could reach the notes that she did. She touched the lives of so many singers; she opened up a whole new world; her style was totally her own. Her
contribution to music was astronomical. Let's celebrate her legacy.
My favourite Whitney Houston song: I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Exhale (Shoop, Shoop) and many more



Louiz Banks, musician
I heard this amazing voice, sometime in the nineties. That's when I became a fan and a great admirer of her incredible talent. Every song that she sang, she made it her own � it had Whitney written all over it. She was a song stylist, who went on to become the greatest diva of her time. She will always be an inspiration to every new artiste who aspires to sing. She inspired me in a different way � me being a jazz artiste and composer I did not listen to her music on a regular basis, but when I did, I was totally enamoured by her hypnotic voice. Her styling of songs has definitely influenced my Pop and R&B compositions. She was a consummate artist, and that artistry emanating from her, each time she sang, will inspire artistes for generations to come. When Whitney sang, the world stood still and listened.
My favourite Whitney Houston song: Greatest Love of All, One Moment in Time and I Have Nothing among others...

Whitney: A life of firsts
Whitney Houston was born on August 9, 1963 Newark, New Jersey. Her zodiac sign is Leo. Her mother, Cissy Houston, was a back-up singer for artistes including Elvis Presley, Luther Vandross, and Aretha Franklin, who is Whitney's Godmother.

In a career spanning a total of 415 awards in her lifetime, Houston is the most awarded female recording artiste of all time, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Her awards include 2 Emmys, 6 Grammys, 30 Billboard Music Awards and 22 American Music Awards.



She became a back-up singer on the Michael Zager Band's single, Life's a Party, at the age of 14. Her mother was keen Whitney finish school, so she declined Zager's offer to obtain a recording contract for her daughter.

In 1978, at age 15, Whitney sang background vocals on Chaka Khan's hit single, I'm Every Woman. Five years later, in 1983, Whitney signed with Arista, but did not begin work on her album immediately.

Whitney had her first taste of chart success in 1984, when her duet with Teddy Pendergrass titled 'Hold Me' on his album Love Language become a Top 5 R&B hit. The song would also appear on her debut album in 1985.

By 1986, one year after its release, her debut album topped the Billboard 200 albums chart and stayed there for 14 non-consecutive weeks.

3 weeks: The time that the final single from her debut album, Greatest Love of All, remained at Number One on the Hot 100 chart, becoming her biggest hit at the time.

25 million: The number of copies her debut album sold worldwide. Houston was the Number One Artist of the Year and Whitney Houston was the Number One album of the year on the 1986 Billboard year-end charts, making her the first female artist to earn the distinction.

In June 1987, she released the album Whitney, which had four number-one singles, making her the first female artist to generate as many number ones from one album.

Nine million copies: The world sales of the best-selling single by a female artist, and the biggest-selling non-charity single of all time. The song? I Will Always Love You!

1989: The year in which the pop singer formed The Whitney Houston Foundation For Children, a non-profit organisation that helps raise funds for the needs of children around the world, including those with cancer or AIDS.

Whitney played Rachel Marron, a star stalked by a crazed fan, who hires a bodyguard to protect her in the 1992-film, The Bodyguard, in which she starred opposite Kevin Costner. The film would go on to gross $121 million in the US and $410 million worldwide, making it one of the top 100 grossing films in film history at the time.

July 18, 1992: The year in which Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown were married, after a three-year courtship that began when they met at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards.

March 4, 1993: The birth of Houston's only child, Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown. Her child with Bobby Brown.

On January 11, 2000, airport security guards discover marijuana in both Houston and husband Bobby Brown's luggage in a Hawaii airport. Charges were later dropped against them, but rumours of drug use between the couple would continue to surface.

In August 2001, Houston signs the biggest record deal in music history with Arista/BMG. She renewed her contract for $100 million to deliver six new albums, on which she would also earn royalties.

Whitney does an interview with Diane Sawyer to promote her then-upcoming album in 2002. The interview is the highest-rated television interview in history.

In early 2004, husband Bobby Brown stars in his own reality TV programme, Being Bobby Brown, in which Whitney is a key figure.

September 2006: Whitney separates from Bobby Brown. She files for divorce the following month.
On February 11, 2012, the singer is found dead in a fourth-floor suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, California. The cause of death is not yet known.

August 17, 2012: The slated release date for the remake of the 1976 classic 'Sparkle' in which Whitney plays mother to Jordin Sparks, one of two showbiz sisters in the film.

Artiste interviews and compilation by Aviva Dharmaraj

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