One of the most celebrated pop stars of all time, Whitney Houston achieved more in her nearly three-decade career than most artists could hope to imagine. She sold more than 170 million combined albums, songs and videos, and became one of a few artists with the distinction of performing the most times on the annual GRAMMY Awards, having graced the telecast stage eight times over the years.
Like many gifted artists, Houston's success was not of the overnight variety.
Born Aug. 9, 1963, in Newark, N.J., Houston grew up singing in church, taking after her gospel/R&B singing mother, Cissy Houston. As a teenager, Whitney Houston provided background vocals on recordings for Chaka Khan. In 1983 she was discovered by legendary music executive Clive Davis, with whom she forged a lifelong professional relationship and friendship. Two years later Houston's career was officially launched with the release of her self-titled debut album.
Throughout the next 25 years, Houston released nine albums that peaked in the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 (including four No. 1 albums), and charted more than 20 Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 hits. Houston's unmatched talents yielded plenty of gold over the years. She garnered an impressive 25 GRAMMY nominations, winning six.
Following is a chronology detailing Houston's impressive GRAMMY legacy. Of course, the output listed below represents a brief snapshot of the career of an artist with a voice that "you wait a lifetime for," as Davis eulogized at Houston's funeral in February 2012.
"Saving All My Love For You"
Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female: 28th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Houston made her GRAMMY debut in a big way in 1985, garnering three nominations, including Album Of The Year for Whitney Houston, on which "Saving All My Love For You" appears. The song became Houston's first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and was one of four songs to reach the Top 5 from this album. Co-written by Gerry Goffin and Michael Masser, the slow and seductive ballad was originally recorded by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. in 1978. At the 29th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 1986 Houston garnered a nomination for the prestigious Record Of The Year honor for "Greatest Love Of All" from the Whitney Houston album. The music video for the song was filmed at New York's Apollo Theater and stars Houston's mother, Cissy Houston.
"I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)"
Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female: 30th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Houston garnered her second nomination for Album Of The Year in 1987 for her sophomore release, Whitney, which features this dance-ready track. Co-produced by GRAMMY winner Narada Michael Walden, it became the first album by a female artist to debut at No. 1 and sold more than 9 million copies. "I Wanna Dance…" was one of seven consecutive No. 1 hits for Houston, breaking a record previously held by the Beatles.
"I Will Always Love You"
Record Of The Year; Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female: 36th Annual GRAMMY Awards
The Bodyguard — Original Soundtrack Album
Album Of The Year: 36th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Houston had a big year at the 36th Annual GRAMMY Awards, garnering two of The Academy's most prestigious honors for Album and Record Of The Year for the soundtrack to The Bodyguard. The soundtrack to the 1992 film, which starred Houston and Kevin Costner, peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Originally written and recorded by Dolly Parton, Houston's soaring rendition of "I Will Always Love You" climbed to No. 1 and has sold 4.5 million copies to date. The album has sold 11.8 million albums, making it the best-selling soundtrack in more than 20 years. Houston teamed with an all-star cast to record the album, including GRAMMY winners Babyface, Robert Clivilles, David Foster, and BeBe Winans. The album earned Houston an additional nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for "I'm Every Woman." Among Houston's most iconic GRAMMY performances is her stunning rendition of "I Will Always Love You" at the 36th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 1994, a performance clip highlighted on "We Will Always Love You: A GRAMMY Salute To Whitney Houston."
"It's Not Right But It's Okay"
Best Female R&B Vocal Performance: 42nd Annual GRAMMY Awards
Houston received her last GRAMMY in 1999 for "It's Not Right But It's Okay," taken from her 1998 album My Love Is Your Love, which peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard 200 and garnered a nomination for Best R&B Album. The album garnered Houston additional nominations for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals for "When You Believe" featuring Mariah Carey, and Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for "Heartbreak Hotel" featuring Faith Evans and Kelly Price.