In March of '85, Whitney's powerful pipes would start to tear down the walls of radio segmentation. Cooing and belting her way through "You Give Good Love," she attained the admirable feat of hitting #1 R&B and #3 Pop. Her enchanting performance of the romantic slow-jam, penned by R&B composer La La and produced by soul artist Kashif, opened the floodgates for big-voiced female R&B singers in the "crossover" market of the 1980's and '90s. Says Kashif, "Clive [had a lot of] insight to put Whitney and I together. We all need to know that it all starts with a great song, which La La wrote. Whitney and I both gained a lot from our collaboration. That song took my career to a whole new level and helped to cement my status as an elite producer. For that I am eternally grateful to Whitney."
But Whitney's impact did not stop there. Because of the talent Clive paired her with, Whitney also transformed the landscape of commercial R&B for further African-American songwriters and producers whose work had previously been overlooked by top-40 programmers. Narada Michael Walden, Preston Glass, and LeMel Humes are just a few of the talents who would benefit from this association. Following "You Give Good Love," her reading of the smoky R&B ballad "Saving All My Love for You" topped the success of "You Give Good Love" by climbing to #1 on both the R&B and Pop charts. Subsequently, fans got a taste of Whitney's prowess with uptempo grooves—first with "Thinking About You," a funky number pushed mostly to R&B radio; then with the ebullient, hook-laden "How Will I Know," another #1 success on both the pop and R&B charts.
The dawning of 1986 would forever secure Whitney's prominent place in universal pop culture and the lives of countless millions. "Greatest Love of All," a Michael Masser-Linda Creed composition first recorded by George Benson in 1977, was selected as the final single from Whitney's self-titled debut album. Aside from staying atop the pop charts for three weeks and hitting #3 R&B, Whitney's incomparable reading of the self-love anthem became the soundtrack to graduations and celebrations of achievements everywhere. From her sparkling diction, to her passionate delivery of the song's chorus, up to her spine-tingling, sustained closing note, she ingrained the empowering words of "Greatest" into the hearts of sentient beings aged one to 100. In the accompanying music video, she displayed a graceful stage presence and striking loveliness which furthered her reach and significance to people of all nationalities. At age 8, this writer was so inspired by all aspects of her performance that it became a mandate to perform my own rendering of the song at all family functions and get-togethers with friends. That was on top of singing the song in summer-camp choir and walking to the tune of Whitney's recording at elementary-school awards ceremonies!