Over 25 years ago, the young woman with the dazzling smile and bow atop her head dominated MTV. Dancing in a room adorned with bright colors, she seemed the picture of someone with a charmed life and a bright future.
On February 11, 2012, Whitney Houston's successful career yet deeply troubled life came to a tragic end. According to People, members of Houston's entourage found her lifeless body in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, just hours before she was to perform at Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy party. As of this writing, the cause of death had not been determined.
In recent years, her tumultuous marriage to Bobby Brown, struggles with drugs, and erratic behavior overshadowed her powerful voice. By the time she reentered drug and alcohol rehab again in May 2011, it had become virtually impossible to reconcile the broken Houston with the youthful and vibrant woman from the “How Will I Know” video.
In 1985, Houston seemed destined for stardom—after all, she had vocalist Cissy Houston as a mother, Dionne Warwick as a cousin, and Aretha Franklin as her godmother. Showing great talent at an early age, Houston sang in the church, occasionally performed with her mother onstage, sang backup vocals on records for Lou Rawls and Chaka Khan, and modeled—all while she was a teenager. When legendary star-maker Davis saw Houston sing at a nightclub in the early eighties, he offered her a contract with his label Arista. Before Davis released her debut, she recorded a duet with Teddy Pendergrass; the track, “Hold Me,” received modest attention in 1984. But the best was yet to come.
It's difficult to imagine now, but her 1985 self-titled debut album was not an instant smash; according to AllMusic, the first single, “Someone for Me,” bombed on the charts. But the second song, “You Give Good Love,” became a massive hit. “Saving All My Love for You” then cemented her place as Generation X's Diana Ross, a beautiful diva with a phenomenal voice. Ultimately Whitney Houston sold 13 million copies, still a record for a debut by a female artist.