Whitney Houston was the golden girl of the music industry
Whitney Houston, who died Saturday, wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.
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"The biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy," Houston told ABC's Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 interview.Skip to next paragraph
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It was a tragic fall for a superstar who was one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone.
Houston first started singing in the church as a child. In her teens, she sang backup for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling. It was around that time when music mogul Clive Davis first heard Houston perform.
"The time that I first saw her singing in her mother's act in a club ... it was such a stunning impact," Davis told "Good Morning America."
"To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song. I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine," he added.
Before long, the rest of the country would feel it, too. Houston made her album debut in 1985 with "Whitney Houston," which sold millions and spawned hit after hit. "Saving All My Love for You" brought her her first Grammy, for best female pop vocal. "How Will I Know," ''You Give Good Love" and "The Greatest Love of All" also became hit singles.
Another multiplatinum album, "Whitney," came out in 1987 and included hits like "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."
The New York Times wrote that Houston "possesses one of her generation's most powerful gospel-trained voices, but she eschews many of the churchier mannerisms of her forerunners. She uses ornamental gospel phrasing only sparingly, and instead of projecting an earthy, tearful vulnerability, communicates cool self-assurance and strength, building pop ballads to majestic, sustained peaks of intensity."
"She would have been the ultimate, ultimate mentor to any contestant coming on the show," Cowell said.