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Whitney Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012)

Whitney Elizabeth Houston was dubbed the most awarded female act of all time (Guinness World Records, 2009). She sold over 200 million records worldwide, released six studio albums, one holiday album and three movie soundtrack albums. All ten of these albums have achieved Diamond, Multi-Platinum, Platinum or Gold certifications. According to a majority of today’s popular musical artists, Houston was an inspiration. She is the only artist to chart seven consecutive number one Billboard Hot 100 hits. Houston is the second artist (behind Elton John) and the only woman to have two number one Billboard 200 Album entries on a year-end chart. Her 1985 debut album Whitney Houston made history as the best-selling debut album by a woman. Her sophomore album Whitney (1987) was the first album by a woman to debut at number one. Her cover of Dolly Parton’s hit I Will Always Love You for the 1992 film (in which she also starred in), The Bodyguard, became the best-selling single by a woman in music history (and was Houston’s biggest/most recognizable single). The 1996 soundtrack for The Preacher’s Wife became the best-selling gospel album in history. All these accolades from a girl whose only ambition in life was to sing! And sing she certainly did.

Houston’s life was not all roses. Since the day (July 18, 1992 in fact) that she married fellow singer Bobby Brown, her personal life slowly seemed to implode. Houston endured years of rumored then confirmed drug use and addictions, marital woes, legal disputes and very public meltdowns. In early 2004, there was also the fiasco known as the reality series, Being Bobby Brown for the Bravo network.

An annual tradition, in February 2012, Houston made her way to Beverly Hills for Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party. On February 11, she was found unconscious in her hotel room bathtub. Her death has been listed as an accidental drowning with heart disease and cocaine use as contributing factors. Toxicology results show Houston had consumed cocaine shortly before her death. Benadryl, Xanax, marijuana and Flexeril (a muscle relaxer) were also found in Houston’s system.

Houston counted two Emmy Awards, six Grammys, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards among 415(!) total career awards over her lifetime.