Whitney Houston is often described without hyperbole as one of the greatest singers of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Born in Newark, New Jersey, Houston began honing her powerful voice in her church choir with guidance from her mother, renowned gospel vocalist Cissy Houston. She signed her first recording contract with Arista Records under the guidance of executive Clive Davis in 1983 and released her self-titled debut two years later. The album that introduced the world to Houston's talent sold over 13 million copies, making it the best-selling debut ever by a female artist. She later followed it with 1987's Whitney, which contained so many popular songs that it made Houston the first woman in recorded music to generate four number-one singles from a single album. She returned to the studio for 1990's I'm Your Baby Tonight, which went quadruple platinum. As the 90s settled in however, Houston was ready to branch out into something new-namely, acting-and she found just the project to launch her new endeavor in the romantic drama "The Bodyguard" (1992). The movie proved a fantastic success, buoyed by its Houston-heavy accompanying soundtrack which boasted a cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" that remained at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 14 weeks. 1992 also saw Houston marry fellow recording artist Bobby Brown. She gave birth to their daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown the following year. Still riding a high from "The Bodyguard," Houston continued acting, co-starring in and contributing to the soundtracks to "Waiting to Exhale" (1995) and "The Preacher's Wife" (1995). She collaborated with Mariah Carey on the song "When You Believe" for the soundtrack to the animated film "The Prince of Egypt" (1998) and released the album My Love Is Your Love that same year. She went on to sign a new contract with Arista worth over $100 million and released Just Whitney in 2002. All were met with praise from both audiences and critics, but Houston's overall behavior around this time had begun to generate criticism. Rumors persisted that her relationship with Brown could be combative and even violent, and Houston's increasingly erratic and unpredictable nature in the studio and on set led many to conclude that she was suffering from drug dependence. Amid this increasingly chaotic situation, Bobby Brown began starring on the candid reality show "Being Bobby Brown" (Bravo, 2005) on which Houston shared equal screen time with her husband and often appeared, according to audiences and critics, to be under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Houston and Brown divorced in 2007, and Houston remained active as ever as an artist, releasing the album I Look to You in 2009 and signing on to executive produce and co-star in a remake of the musical drama "Sparkle" (2012), which was shot in late 2011. Then in February of 2012, tragedy struck. Houston was found dead in her suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Her drug-related death was determined by the Los Angeles County Coroner to have been an accident. She was 48 years old.
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