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November 17, 2015

Throwback Photos of Whitney Houston in Her Twenties in the 1980s

With over 200 million combined album, singles and videos sold worldwide during her career with Arista Records, Whitney Houston has established a benchmark for superstardom that will quite simply never be eclipsed in the modern era. She is a singer’s singer who has influenced countless other vocalists female and male.

Whitney Houston was born on August 9, 1963 in Newark, New Jersey. Her mother was gospel and R&B singer Cissy Houston and Dionne Warwick was a cousin. She also counted singer Darlene Love as godmother and Aretha Franklin as an honorary aunt. By the age of 11, Houston was performing as a soloist at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. She attended the Roman Catholic School Mount Saint Dominic Academy. Whitney Houston counts Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight and Roberta Flack among her early musical influences.

As a teenager Whitney Houston began touring with her mother as a backup vocalist. In 1978, at the age of 15, she backed Chaka Khan on the hit single “I’m Every Woman.” Houston also sang on recordings by Lou Rawls and Jermaine Jackson. In addition to her music career, she began working as a model and appeared on the cover of Seventeen magazine, one of the first black women to do so. She made an appearance on the 1982 album One Down by Bill Laswell’s avant funk band Material. She sang the ballad “Memories.”

Whitney Houston was given multiple offers for a recording contract in the early 1980s, but her mother insisted that she complete high school first. Finally, legendary music executive Clive Davis signed Whitney Houston to a recording contract with Arista Records in 1983 after seeing her performance in a nightclub.

Clive Davis did not rush the recording of Whitney Houston’s self-titled debut. In the meantime she recorded “Hold Me,” a duet with R&B legend Teddy Pendergrass for his solo album Love Language. It became a top five R&B hit in 1984. It was also later included on her debut album. That collection titled Whitney Houston was released in February 1985. She immediately received rave critical reviews. The first single “Someone For Me” was a relative failure and did not chart in the US or UK. The second single “You Give Good Love” took off with R&B audiences hitting #1 on the R&B chart in May 1985. It then started to climb the pop chart and ultimately landed at #3 in July. The following three singles all topped the pop singles chart. The album hit #1 on the album chart a year after its release and stayed there for 14 weeks. It ultimately sold over 13 million copies in the US. At the time, it was the bestselling debut album ever by a solo artist.

Whitney Houston’s album earned three Grammy Award nominations in 1986 including for Album of the Year. The early appearance in a duet with Teddy Pendergrass made Whitney Houston ineligible for the Best New Artist category. Her performance on the song “Saving All My Love For You,” Whitney Houston’s first #1 pop hit, also won her first Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal.

In late 2011 reports surfaced that Whitney Houston was planning to produce and star in a remake of the 1976 film Sparkle. However, she was found dead February 11, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California just hours before the annual Clive Davis pre-Grammy Awards party. At the Grammy Awards ceremony itself, Jennifer Hudson performed “I Will Always Love You” in tribute.

Here, below are some throwback photos of Whitney Houston in her twenties in the 1980s.

American singer Cissy Houston (born Emily Drinkard, left) and her daughter Whitney Houston in the backyard of her home
in West Orange, New Jersey, May 28, 1985

Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston on March 10, 1986

Singers Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown at the Plaza Hotel on Dec. 1, 1984

Whitney Houston and Barry Manilow on Dec. 1, 1984

Whitney Houston arrives at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles, California, Jan. 27, 1986

Whitney Houston at an event to celebrate her debut album Whitney Houston receiving a multi-platinum sales award
in 1985 in New York City

Whitney Houston attends the 28th Annual Grammy Awardson at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Feb. 25, 1986

Whitney Houston attends the 29th Annual Grammy Awards at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Feb. 24, 1987

Whitney Houston in 1986

Whitney Houston in Canada on Aug. 22, 1986

Whitney Houston in concert at Symphony Hall in Newark, New Jersey, April 1986

Whitney Houston in concert on Boston Common, July 29, 1986

Whitney Houston in concert, 1986

Whitney Houston performing onstage in 1987

Whitney Houston performs at Liberty Weekend:
American Concert on July 4, 1986, at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey

Whitney Houston performs in New York, 1984

Whitney Houston performs on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on April 5, 1985

Whitney Houston performs onstage in 1980

Whitney Houston performs onstage in the Netherlands on April 23, 1988

Whitney Houston with President of Arista Records Clive Davis at an event to celebrate Whitney's debut album
Whitney Houston receiving a multi-platinum sales award in 1985 in New York


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