She sold over 170 million albums, singles, and videos. She released seven studio albums and three movie soundtracks, all of which with diamond, platinum, multi-platinum, and gold certification. She is the only artist with seven consecutive number one Billboard Hot 100 hits, surpassing previous records held by The Beatles and The Bee Gees. Her single “ I Will Always Love You” is the best selling single by a female artist in music history. Whitney Houston is often remembered for being a battered drug addict, but that is only a small part of her colossal story.
Through the 1980’s, Houston won countless awards ranging from Grammy’s and Emmy’s to MTV and Soul Train awards. Her first two albums, Whitney Houston and Whitney, both topped the Billboard Charts. Her performance of The Star Spangled Banner at the 1991 Super Bowl received such an overwhelming response that it was released as a single and reached Top 20 on the US Hot 100 list. It is the only performance of the national anthem to turn into a pop hit of that significance.
Houston met Bobby Brown at the 1989 Soul Train Awards and married him in July of 1992. They had their first and only child, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993. Through the 90’s, Houston’s career was still on fire with another chart topping album, another handful of awards, and the release of her most famous single, “I Will Always Love You.” After that, she released her My Love Is Your Love album and a greatest hits album, again proving how amazing her talent truly was.
In January 2000, Houston’s “good girl” image was trashed. Airport security found marijuana in Houston and Brown’s luggage in Hawaii. The two managed to get on the plane and leave before authorities arrived and the charges against them were dropped. But drug rumors would continue to surface for the rest of her career. In an interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002, Whitney admitted to using drugs, like cocaine, occasionally.
Houston divorced Bobby Brown in 2007 and got custody of their daughter. That same year, Clive Davis announced that Whitney would be releasing another album. In 2009, she did her first on-screen interview in almost a decade with Oprah Winfrey where she spilled every detail of her drug abuse and personal life with Brown.
Whitney Houston’s last performance took place on February 9, 2012, when she sang, “Jesus Loves Me.” She was found dead two days later in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, submerged in the bathtub. Houston’s family later told L.A. County Coroner officials that she had died from a mix of Xanax, other prescription drugs, and alcohol. Her service in Newark, New Jersey lasted four hours and featured performances by Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder.
Houston may be remembered by some as a drug addict, but that is not exactly fair. She is one of the greatest performers in the past century. She continues to hold records that haven’t even come close to being broken in the music industry. Her songs are still incredibly popular, as they should be. The death of Whitney Houston should be seen as a tragedy to the music industry, her incredible musical legacy is what she should be remembered for.