Whitney Houston was born at 9th August 1963 in East Orange, NJ, in a talented family, she was inspired and encouraged bythem to develop her natureal ability as a singer, and her family also provided the security and support she needed to become an international star.
Whitney's mother, Emily Drinkard (nickname Cissy), was born in 1933
in Newark. As a youngster she started singingin family gospel group, the
Drinkard Sisters, who recorded for RCA Records. Cissy performed with
Dionee Warwick's first group, the Gospelaires, and formed the four-piece
group the Sweet Inspirations(featuring Sylvia Shemwell of Bobby&Sylvia)
In 1970s Cissy worked both as a session singer and as solo artist. She
not only released three albums (Cissy Houston in 1977, Warning-Danger in
1979 and Step Aside For A Lady, EMI 1980) but also worked with such
varied and celebrated singers as Elvis Presley and her close friend
Aretha Franklin. Remarkably she was the first singer to record 'Midnight
Train To Georgia', later a big hit for Gladys Knight.
John Houston was his wife's manager when Cissy was out on the road, and when thier daughter, Whitney Elizabeth, was born, it was John who stayed at home to watch over her. "He was Mom's support network while she was out on tour." said Whitney, in tribute to her father. "He changed diapers, cooked, did my hair and dressed me, all the while providing Mom with advice and answers."
Together they lived in Newark, in the state of New Jersey, near New York. Although Cissy's work as a soul singer often caused her to be away from home, the family's strong religious convictions meany that they were regularly seen in the congregation at New Hope Baptist Church, where Cissy was Minister of Music. In the natural progression of things, the church was to become the humble venue for Whitney Houston's first solo performance.
With so much music in her parent's lives, it was only a matter of time before Whitney realized that music was in her blood: "Being around people like Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick and Roberta Flack, all these greats, I was tought to listen and observe. It had a great impact on me as a singer, as a performer, as a musician. Growing around it, you just can't help it. I identified with it immediately. It was something that was so natural to me that when I started singing, it was almost like speaking."
The first time Whitney's solo voice was heard in public was,
naturally, at the New Hope Baptist Church. At the age of about 11 she
sang 'Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah', and the reaction she received
taught her something she would never forget."I was aware of people
staring at me. No one moved. They seemed almost in trance. I just stred
at the clock in the center of the church. When I finished, everyone
clapped and started crying."
When Whitney decided to become a professional singer like her mother, it was not just that the clamour of applause stimulatied her so strongly - although that in itself was overwhelming - it was that a career as a vocalist was the only way she could imagine truly to repay God for the gift of music. "God gave me a voice to sing with," she said. "And when you have that, what other gimmick is there?"
Whitney's two older brothers, Michael and gary, have both helped her
in her career with business and music respectively. Michael became her
production manager on tour, arranging everything from the lighting hire
to the catering crew, while Gary joined her as a singer, performing duets
and backing vocals with his sister on stage.
It is clear that Whitney and her family have always been close, and are able to rely on each other for support. That relationship has given Whitney Houston a famously unshakeable selfconfidence, which is very much a part of her personality. And as famous as she is, Whitney always seemsdown to earth, because her simple family background and Christian faith remind her of her ordinary roots.
Throwing herself into her extra-curricular work, Whitney found a very promisin career in modelling. She appeared in US magazines Csmopolitan and Young Miss and on the covers of Glamor and Seventeen in 1981, describing herself later as "young, kind of innocent, but sexy". Whitney's modelling career began quite by chance. "My Mom and I were in New York and young man walked over to me and said that I should go to a modelling agency that was upstairs from where we were - that they were looking for someone like me and that I whould be good. I was a little suspicious, but my Momwas with me and I said, 'What the heck, let's go see about this.'" Modeling led to offers of acting roles on television, such as the American family comedies Silver Spoons and Gimme A Break, but at the same time Whitney was in even greater demand as a singer.
When Arista Records president Clive Davis fisrt spotted Whitney Houston on stage, he saw the gift of stardom in her eyes and signed her up almost on the spot, in 1983. Davis had founded Arista Records in 1975 and launched the careers of many singers and songwriters from Billy Joel to Barry Manilow. He made Whitney his own presonal responsibility, and famously added a clause to her contract to ensure that is he ever moved on from Arista, Whitney would be comming with him. "He is the only head of a record company who is really involved in and knows about music," said Whitney. Conscious of the dizzying effects of the music business lifestyle on an impressionable young woman, Davis made every effort to protect Whitney from the harsher side of the industry while nourishing her promising talent. By pairing the beautiful voice with the classiest and best songs and musicians, Davis knew that he would get a winning combination. Using the best minds in the business, he began laying the foundations for Whitney's career. But her fame did not arrive overnight.
Contary to the opinions of Whitney's critics, the relationship
worked best because Clive and Whitney both had the same goals and shared
the same beliefs about entertainment. Whitney told Rolling Stone in 1993:
"I don't like it when they [mdedia critics] see me as this little person
who doesn't know what to do with herself - like I have have no idea what
I want, like I'm just a puppet and Clive's got the strings. That's
bullshit. That's demeaning to me, because that ain't how it is, and it
never was. And never will be."
Most of all, the reason that the partnership worked so well was that Clive Davis truly believed in Whitney's talant. Soonafter they began working together, they appeared on The Merv Griffin Show in US television and DAvis explained succinctly why he thought Whitney Houston woud become a star: "You either got it or you don't", he said. "She's got it."
Whitney Houston was paired with well-estabilished soul cronners like
Teddy Pendergrass and Jermaine Jackson, who both releasted records
featuring vocals by Whitney in 1984 - songs that appeared on her own
debut album a year later. Houston and Jackson even made a cameo
appearance on American soap As The World Turns mugging for the
camera and sining the slushy 'Take Good Care Of My Heart'.
Meanwhile, as Whitney worked ceaselessly, Clive Davis cast his net far and wide to find the best songs for her to sing, and some of the pop worls's most prestigious songwriters - Michael Masser, Peter McCann, Linda Creed and Gerry Goffin - supplied the songs that would form Whitney's first collection.
Clive Davis did not stop his pursuit of excellence with the choice
of songs for Whitney's first album, which was to be called, simply
Whitney Houston. It was vital that the finished recordings had the
class and quality befitting soul's newest queen. So far the album's
producers Davis enlisted writer Michael Masser, George Benson's producer
Kashif, and consummate all-rounded Narada Michael Walden.
"Clive Davis wasn't taking any risks", said Rolling Stone in thier review of Whitney Houston. "The president of Arista invested two years and $250000 into the making of her debut album...those pipes and those looks are not to be denied...with the right songs and settings, she could be an earth-shattering performer."
A heart-warming, selfless love song, 'Saving All My Love For You'
was the single that made Whitney Houston a household name. Written by
Gerry Goffin and Michael Masser, it first appeared as an album cut by
Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis jr in 1978. Whitney's version was the
Number 8 best-selling singleof the year in Britain, easily topping the
chart on both sides of the Atlantic, although the record had been in the
shopd for quite a while before radio stations and records buyers began to
The winning gambit that clinched the record's success was the video, which gave Whitney a major breakthrough on MTV. Whitney played a sultry, streamlined "other woman", whose sugardaddy was far away with his wife and family while she waitedpatiently for him to return. It was a moving little tale, in which Whitney Houston looked fresh and pure, but with a very sharp edge.
The following year, Whitney was presented with her first Grammy award, by her cousin Dionne Warwick, for Best Female Pop Vocal Perfomance for 'Saving All My Love For You'. The national US paper Herald Examiner wrote "Warwick bounced up and down with obvious delight as she read Whitney Houston's name as winner." When she took the stage to accept, Whitney simply said, "Oh, my goodness. I must thenk God, who makes it all possible for me!"
"My mom says that is you keep your eyes open and look around, you
can learn a lot," Whitney told Steve Dale of the Chicago tribune
in August 1985 during her first national "warm-up" tour. "I've already
seen people come and go in this business. I'm being very careful with my
career, taking everything step by step. I'm in no hurry." Performing in
suppport of headliner Jeffrey Osborne, Whitney got plenty of exposure,
and although the audiences were sometimes less than enthusiastic, the
critcs were learning to love her.
"I always enjoy performing." said Whitney the following month, as her own tour began, "so it doesn't matter to me wherether I'm the opening act or the headliner. But it will be fun to get to do a whole 60-minute show."
Whitney's first ever world tour was a major event, with a very
ambitious presentation. The star chose to perform in the round on a huge
circular stage situated in the middle of each auditorium, like a boxing
match, so that the entire crowd had a clear view. The staging gave each
show a dramatic yet intimate feel, and was and enormous test of her
skills as a performer, as she tried to play to all "sides" at once. David
Sinclair in the national UK paper The Times called it "a measure
of her extraordinary status after only one solo album", saying that
Whitney "looked like a shimmering hologram, but her command of such an
intimidating area of space was real enough through the set".
Perforing nearly all of the songs on her debut album, Whitney sang a simple set to show off her vocal talent, without any costume changes. The seven-piece band was set apart from the singer, on a smalle stage below her. Whitney was alone on the stage but for a cordless microphone, although she was joined by her brother, Gagy Garland, for the duets 'Hold Me' and 'Nobody Loves Me Like You Do'. The show began with Whitney singing the first bars of 'The Greatest Love Of All' teasingly from nehind a partition, before launching into the uptempo Michael Jackson hit 'Wanna Be Startin' Something' (which was one of her earliest recordings, on an Arista Records sampler LP).
Commenting in the Chicago Tribune, Daniel Brogan called
Whitney "an uptown Tina Turner", saying that he could forginve her
occasional ad libs and indulgences because: "It is easy to image just how
tempting it is to cut loose when you have as much natural talent as she
does." A regular highlight was the gospel standart 'I Believe' (once a
hit for Frankie Laine), which David Sinclair said "swept towards the very
highest of registers in waves of mounting vigour".
The tour was far more indicative of Whitney's roots than the album had been. Daniel Brogan was pleasantly surprised that Whitney seemed to be "a far bolder, far grittier performer than the MOR pop diva on Whitney Houston". "The evening's clearcut standout wasn't a Whitney song at all, "he said. "It was her passionately soulful reading of Jennifer Holliday's 'I Am Changing'. Houston sang the song with such convictionand determination that you couldn't help wondering if she was issuing a challenge to her audience to follow her in the new direction she is beginning to take."
Indeed, Whitney houston was changing, becoming less a starlet or supermodel of the Eighties, and more a world-class entertainer. by the time of her next major tour, there would be no one to equal her success. US Billboard magazine named her thier Artist of the year in 1986, and in January 1987 she won an astonishing five American Music Awards. At the time it seemed as if she had reached the peak of her career, and couldn't possibly improve on such success. But now we know otherwise.
"No surprises here," said UK magazine Smash Hits in May 1987.
'The great Whitney Houston announces her return from a ling lay-off with
her usual brilliant singing...Welcome back Ma'am!"
With the foot-tapping, Caribbean precusion and irresistible baritone backing vocals, 'I wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)' was the pop single of summer 1987. Everybody remembers the catchy, repetitive chorus and cute outro ("Dontcha wanna dance? Say ya wanna dance. Danotcha wanna dance?"). On the seemingly improvised bridge section Whitney gives a gorgeous giggle which spreads a brilliant ray of sunshine into the song, It is fun, classic pop, and was inevitably another Number 1 hit in the UK and US in May 1987, but that wasn't all.
'I Wanna Danca With Somebody (Who loves Me)' was the Number 1 best-selling single of the year in the US, and in the UK it made Number 9 in the year-end chart-helped by Whitney having preformed the song on her one and only appearance on the legendary British TV show Top of the Pops. Written by Shannon Rubicam and George Merrill (of 'How Will I Know' fame), the song had the dubios honour of being the fifth video clip ever transmited by the satellite channel MTV Europe; but the greatest possible tribute to the classic hit was a grammy Award For Best Female pop Vocal Performance the following year.
In May, Whitney Houston, along with more than 60 other singers and
bands from around the world, appeared at the Montreux Pop Festival in
Switzerland. Characteristically staying out of the limelight at her hotel
in Lausanne, Whitney surfaced only twice during the week, for a press
conference and a single performance.
Asked at the press conference if fame was turning her head, she said: "I'm coping with it. The only way that it affects me is that I don't have as much time as I used to by myself." She reiterated that fame was no big surprise to her: "What you have to remember," she said simply, "is hat I took my time with this. I didn't just run into this and say 'I want to be a star and singer.' My mother wasn't going to go for that...So i had to finish school; that's all that matters when you're young. So I think I've had my fun in my teen years. There's not anything I particularly miss."
Whitney's 1987 summer tour of the States was her most extensive to
date, comprising multiple shows in 25 cities. She opened the tour in
Tampa, Florida on July 4 and wound up in Montreal, Canada, on August 28.
It was a gruelling schedule - "By the end of tour you really understand
the phrase 'There's no place like home'!" she said.
The setting remained "in the round", but this time the song list was far more rich with two full albums to drow on. Cissy houston often joined Whitney to sing back-up vocals on the gospel standard 'I Believe' and then remained on stage for the big-build-up ballads 'Didn't We Almost Have It All' and 'The Greatest Love Of All'. John Pareles on the New York Times lavishly praised Whitney's sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden, calling her "an encyclopedic, restless virtuoso" whose voice invorporated "everyone from Aretha Franklin to Barbara Streisand to Diana Ross to Al Green". he continued: "She can deliver a gospel rasp, a velvety coo, a floating soprano and cheerleader's whoop," in an article titled: "Whitney Houston Can Sing Up a Storm".
Although it is a powerfully emotional ballad 'Where Do Broken Hearts
Go' is likely to be remembered not for its music and lyric but for
breaking a long-standing US chart record. Seizing the top spot once more
in February 1988, Whitney was the first artist in history to have seven
conseccutive Billboard Number 1 singles.
In March 1988 Whitney was awarded the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody'. At the awards she cried out "I love you Clive! I love you Arista!" and later she said to reporters "I can't tell you how I feel. It's so...emotional!"
Meanwhile, Whitney had reached the UK on her latest world tour,
making appearances at Birmingham's NEC (five consecutive nights) and
London's Wembley Arena. The Wembley dates accounted for yet another
broken record - a run of nine shows, which was the most by any solo
performer at that time.
The tour was once again "in the round", and Whitney was led through the crowd to the stage to begin the set with a rousing 'Didn't We Almost Have It All', usually dressed in a long, plain coat, which she then removed to reveal a black silk halter to and knee-length pink satin skirt. In the Guardian Adam Sweeting marvelled at her pristine beauty: "Despite the occasional gleam of perspiration," he said, "she looked throughout as though she'd just stepped out of a hat box."
Reoirtedly inspired by a visit to Michael jackson's extravagant Bad Tour in New York, the show had a stronger accent on movement and variety than ever before, and team of dancers took the stage for the faster numbers. A passionate version of '(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman' saw Whitney alone on stage, but for other numbers she was joined by her saxophonist, or keyboard player with portable synthesizer.
Organized by Artists Agains Apartheid, a British awareness-raising
pressure group, the Nelson Mandela Tribute Concert in London in June 1988
was intended to be something of a "Live Aid 2". The world's pop stars
came together for one spectacular 11-hour gig to rmind the public of the
long imprisonment of nelson mandela in South Africa. Whitney houston,
normally wary of involvement with political issues, was crucially
important to the credibilly of the venture, as a representative of
America's major black talent. Barry marshall, promoter of Whitney's
massive European tour, offered to talk to the star, and persuaded her to
postpone. a gig already planned for Milan, italy on June 11.
Whitney was joined by Phill Collins, Al green, George Michael, Peter gabriel, Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder, and dozen of other celebrities, and the show was transmitted live on British television and radio by BBC. On US television the Fox Network aired a controversially "edited" version which strategically removed many of the references to the concert's political motive, using the evasive title "Freedomfest".
It soon became clear that apartheid was an issue that Whitney houston felt very strongly about. Apparently, during her brief time as a model, Whitney had refused to promote any company that had branches in South Africa, and it was even suggested that Whitney had been in communication with Nelson Mandela's wife, Winnie.
Before the show even began, Whitney was the subject of an unusual
tribute from South Africa. on the afternoon of the concert, the
Anti-Apartheid Movement distributed a statement from Ahmed Kathrada, who
at 58 was the youngest of the ANC rebels who were sentenced to life
imprisonment along with mandela: "You lucky guys. What I wouldn't give
just to listen to Whitney Houston!" said Ahmed. "I must have told you
that she has long been mine and Walter's [Walter Sisulu - fellow prisoner
aged 76] top favourite. In our love and admiration for Whitney we are
prepared to be second to none!"
Perhaps Whitney was aware of her glowing review, because she entertained with brimming energy. it was a disappointment for some - an earlier announcement had promoted an "all gospel" set, which never materialized - but the audience were treated to a duet by Whitney and her mother, the gospel song 'I Believe', which Whitney dedicated to "Nelson mandela and his family, and for all of my South Africa brothers and sisters".
As the new decade approached, Whitney's career was quieter than
usual, though she was far from idle. In 1988 she had contributed vocals
to a song called 'hold Up the Light' from BeBe (Benjamin) & CeCe
(Priscilla) Winans' album Heaven. Also, while performing live in
London, she recorded the title track to an Arista Records compilation
album in commemoration of the 1988 Olympics in Los Angeles. The album was
called One Moment In Time, and the eponymous single was yet
another Number 1 hit got Whitney on both sides of the Atlantic. The
single was one of the Top 20 hits of the year in the UK and Whitney was
nominated for a Grammy for Best female Pop Vocal Performance. Sadly the
record was deleted in 1990.
In 1989 Whitney's voice was heard on a new single by a lady she once knew as "Aunt Ree" - one of her mother's oldest friends, Aretha Franklin. her Album Through The Storm featured a funky soul groove called 'It's Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't never Conna be' (a kind of sequel to Aretha's collaboration with The Eurythmics on 'Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves'), which was released as a single in Spetember 1989, reaching Number 41 in the US and 29 in Britian.
Meanwhile, Whitney was considering an even more diverse move - a career in the movies. The scripts were flooding in, with potential co-stars rumoured to include Robert De Niro and Eddi Murphy (with whom was said to be romantically "connected" for a while). But the right film had not come along.
In the summer of 1989, she joined her friends the Winans on a tour of the US as a back-up singer. the tour was perfectly timed for Whitney, Not only was it an opportunity to return to her gospel roots, but it was also a chance to sing without feeling the pressure of the audience's expectations. The Winans' following was a predominantly gospel crowd, so Whitney was able to relax in the back-ground and just let go. Whitney's cousin Dionne Warwick and soul singer Luther Vandross also guested at some of the Winans' shows.
Whitney's next single, in October 1990, was the title of her
forthcomming third LP, released later the same year. 'I'm Your Baby
Tonight' was a clear indication thatthis was going to be a relentless
dance album. Whitney gives the song a potent sound with throuaty, soulful
growls and uninhibited squeals and screams. It makes a perfect single and
a perfect opening track, as Whitney wraps up the instant thrill of love
at first sight with the irresistible, sexy beat of a pop song. No wonder
the song was so popular - only a woman with this much class could make a
song about a passionate one-night stand sound lie a love song!
`I'm Your baby Tonight' was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal performenace in 1991, but was beaten by newcomer Mariah Carey with 'Vision Of love' - one of many new artists who had surfaced in the late Eighties as pretenders to Whitney's throne. However, the competition was not something that troubled Whitney, confident in her own charisma. As she explained later: "People who go out and buy me, buy me for me. Furthermore, I came out first anyways [laughs]...anybody that's gonna come has definitely got to come after. they don't say I sound like Mariah Carey, they say Mariah Carey sounds like me, you gid what I'm saying?"
To call I'm Your Baby Tonight long-awaited would ne one of pop music's greatest understatements. Despite Whitney's regular appearances in the singles chart, the world had benn waiting three and a half years for a new Whitney Houston album. Released in 1990, I'm Your Baby Tonight represented a major turning-point in Whitney's career as she launched herself into the Nineties with a renewed passion for pop music in all its different forms.
In 1991, Whitney made good use of her celebrity by raising a great
deal of money for charity. She was invited to begin the ceremony of the
25th Superbowl at joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, Florida by singing the
traditional anthem 'the Star-Spangled Banner'. Although her performance
was pre-recorded, it was a definitive version of the uplifting hymn, and
public demand inevitably lwd to the release of a single and video
In rtue Whitney Houston style, the record went to the US number 20 spot and raised $500,000 for civilian victims of the Gulf War. In may Whitney performed live via satellite at the Simple Truth gig at London's Wembley Arena to raise money for Kurdish refugees, and was noted by the American Red Cross in recognition of her fund-raising efforts.
These fans who had so far been denied the chance to see Whitney perform live were finally able to get the next best thing in April 1991. Whitney houston Live was a clourful concert in Norolk, virginia, on the east coast of the USA, on March 31 that year. The concert was first transmitted by the Home Box Office (HBO) on US television, under the title Welcome Home Heroes with Whitney houston, and it caused a small controversy at the time.
The Norfolk show was in many ways a preview of Whitney's 1991 tour set list. To the audience of servicemen and women, the Gulf War had been both a chance to serve their country and a terrifying experience in which the lives of friends, family and lovers were at stake. "It's so good to see you all home safe and sound," said Whitney, "From that I understand, there are still a few our troops left over there - so this one's for them, too!" After a roar of applause, Whitney contnued: "That's right - until they all come home. Until they all come home. i thik this next song's gonna describe...how you felt when you took your loved one in your arms - and I know you made love all night long. ooh, I know you did!" - and Kirk Whalum's saxophone began to pick out the bluesy melody pf the next song, 'Saving All My Love'
Whitney's dancers joined her for the cheerful 'How Will I know', and
with the backing singers picking up the melody, there was plenty of room
for Whitney's own bluesy waviations on the song. Skipping off-stage,
Whitney prepared herself for the second part of the show with lighting
change into a beautiful red evening down. Sweeping back in along the
raised metal walkway and daintily down the steps, she accepted cards from
the more presumptuous men in the audience, coyly asking them, "I'm gonna
sing you some love song. is that all right?" Almost unaccompained at
first, but for the gentle voice of piano in the backgrownd, Whitney
launched into a slow and emotional version of 'Didn't We Almost Have It
All', which built into a crescendo, imperceptibly changing into a medley
with the Burt Bacharach - hal David standart 'A House Is Not A Home' and
'Where Do Broken Hearts Go'.
The show-stopper was 'All The Man Tha I Need'. Clasping a towel in one hand as she sang, her face and plunging neckline glistened with perspiration as she closed her eyes tightly with the intensity of the moment.
The show's third act began with the pounding drum beat of 'My Name
Is Not Susan' as Whitney and her dancers worked out on the raised gangway
at the rear of the stage. In peppermint green leggings, boots and
matching mini-dress with glittery silver "W.H." motif, Whitney used a
radio microphone and headset to make this final part of the show very
mobile. For 'My Name Is Not Susan' the dancers wore brightly coloured
linen suits, and Whitney, as always, proved that her voice was strong
enough to last the distance, no matter what the pace.
Taking break from the dance numbers, Whitney was alone under the spotlight for a few moments as she sang an operatic, jazzy love song called 'A Song For You'. However, the stage was soon alive with colour and light for the brilliant gospel hymn 'Revelation' as Whitney called out,"Put your hands together for the Lord," and the audience willingly complied. A heart-warming tune, 'Revelation', gave Whitney the chance to introduce her band and bring a series of brief solos from each performer into the show.
After another chnage of costume into a spectacular, off-the-shoulder blue satin dress, Whitney grabbed from somewhere an ugainly sailor's cap as the opening melody of 'Who Do You Love' began, and wore it throughout the track. Joined on stage by the four dancers, Whitney turned the song into another stomping workout. With 'I'm Your baby Tonight' getting the same treatment, the set was completed with a version of 'Greatest Love Of All'. Whitney basked in her perfect moment as a little boy was shyly coaxed on the stage to share the limelight. It was a stirring and mesmerizing performance, made especially potent by the atmosphere of wartime thanksgiving in the crowd.
Folowing the transmission of the concert on US TV, renowned critic Robert Hilburn criticized Whitney Houston in the LA Times for using the Gulf War an opportunity to exploit the emotions of the families and servicemen involved, commentiing that Ms Houston's motivation for the performance was suspiciously unclear. However, to its credit, the newspaper allowed HBO producer Anthony Eaton to redress the balance two weeks later. "We built a show for the returning servicemen and women," wrote Eaton, "and they came. They came and they pretty much blew the top off Hangar LP-2 in Norfolk." In an attempt to "justify" the homecoming performance, Eaton pointed to the ecstatic reaction of the crowd. "We had sailors dancing with army lieutenants," he claimed with pride, "air-force flies sining along with the coastguard, boy soldiers bashfully handing flowers to Whitney on stage, proud families with their reunited moms and dads and, of course, marines hanging off the refters. That night it felt like Babe Ruth pointing to left field, Lindbergh landing in Paris, martin Luther King's speech at the Washington Monument." Finishing with an indignant rebuff, Eaton praised Whitney's integrity and sincerity. "Contrary to Hilbun's comments, Whitney is a my sterious sigure. in an age of fiercely ambitions artists trying whatever tricks they can catch and hold the public's attention, it can be confusing to see an artist whose stage production is built around her outstanding vocal performance."
Whitney's 1991 world tour was fa from a disaster, but the reaction of the paying customers was mixed - not surprising after the relatively poor sales of her third album. In the New York Times, Peter Watrous was scathing in his review of her return bout at madison Square Garden in July. Nothing that the venue was far from ful, he claimed that the concert-goers were "mostly underwhelmed" and suggested that Whitney displayed a distinct lack of commitment to the performance. She "isn't a natural performer", he said, "and she hasn't in any way mastered the large-scale rhetoric of passion needed to convince a huge hall of her sincerity. In a form that demands acrobatics, she's ungainly at best, looking distinctly ill-at-ease, as if she had suddenly awakened to find herself in someone else's body." The same critic sourly described her band as "clattering around like a drunk in a kitchen," and felt that they "managed to drown out any singing she might have wanted to do, which apparently wasn't much anyway". Watrous did concede that those songs that features Whitney's characteristic "deep blues gospel tonalities" were distinctly different, proving "that in the right circumstances she can be as athletic a singer anybody in pop music."
When show moved to the UK a mnth later - with huge light show, back-projections, video screens, moving catwalks, firework displays and all - some of the critics were less than charitable. In the Guardian, Caroline Sullivan pointedly controversy: "originally planned for Spring, Whitney Houston's tour was postponed when the little contretemps in the Gulf gave her a sore throat. "The gigs at brimingham's NEC and Wembley Arena in London were almosy sold out, but Sullivan compared the show to a cabaret: "In her sparky catwoman suit she could have been Shire Bassey giving it some at the Palladium."
Robert Baresfold Vrown was just 14 years old when new Edition
hit the UK Number 1 spot with 'Candy Girl'. The five-piece group from
Boston, Massachusetts was an Eighties answer to the Jackson 5:
lightweight, radio-friendly pop singers with universal appear. Splitting
from their manager - pop enterpreneur Maurice Starr - in 1984, they
signed a major recording deal with MCA Records. New Edition released four
albums featuring Bobby Brown: Candy Girl (1983), New
Edition (1984), All For Love (1985) and Under The Blue
The records spawned several hit singlees, including the US Number 4 'Coll
It Now' and a revival of the Doo-Wop standard 'Earth Angel', which
reached Number 3 in the States.
Although remaining with MCA, Bobby Brown went solo in 1986. His first album King Of Stage (1986) made little impact. although the single 'Girlfriend' was a massive R&B chart hit. However, his next album, Don't be Cruel (1989) producered by LA Reid & Babyface, topped the US chart, and on the strenght of the US Number 1 single 'My Prerogative' it remained in the album chatr for 97 weeks.
On the crest of a wave of success, Bobby brown toured the States extensively in 1989, wowing audiences with his relentless dance routines. The US Number 3 hit single 'Every Little Step' was folowed closely by 'On Our Own' tied in with one of the summer's major films Ghostbusters 2, which made a UK and US Top 5 hit. 'Every Little Step' was the winner of the year's Grammy Award for best R&B Vocal Performance. Another sell-out world tour followed in 1990, which included eight nights at Wembley Arena in London. His most recent album, Bobby, features deeper, more introspective lyrics and broad range of Nineties dance sounds.
Bobby Brown has a reputation. Having fathered three illegitimate
children before first meeting Whitney at the Soul Train awards in 1989,
it seems fair to say that Bobby had lived life to the full. So has
Whitney really tamed the wild man of rap? If she can be believed, the
answer is no - he was never the wild man to begin with. 'I just want
people to undertsand something," she said in 1993." Mu husband has never,
never disrespected any woman...he's a respectable human being. He was
raised with respect. And I just wish they would stop trying to make him
out to be this man who jusy goes around and adbitrarily says: "I want
her, and I'm gonna screw her.'"
However "they" - meaning newspapers and magazines, of course - are never likely to stop their speculation, as she knows. Sensational weekly American tabloid magazine the National Enquirer ran a story as recently as December 1993 with the headline "Whitney Houston Blasts Cheating Hubby". In it, "insiders" claimed that Whitney had accused Bobby of adultery with at least one of his old girlfirneds and a "neautiful black TV actress". The same magazine has on more that one accasion accused Whitneyof having a gay relationship with her close friend Robyn Crawford, whom she met at summer camp at the age of 17.
On July 18, 1992, Whitney Houston was married to Bobby brown at her
estate in New jersey. The bride and groom both wore white.
The ceremony was followed by a reception for 800, after which the happy couple jetted off for Nice, via london, travelling by Concorde.
So far they have collaborated musically only once, in duet, 'Something In Common', released as a single inJanuary 1994. Rolling Stone said simply: "This duet shouldn't work. The fact that they're mismatched - vocally that is - forces them to feel each other out, testing their stylistic limits." Not only does the song challenge their ver different talents, it is also a landmark in their romnce, as Bobby sings "Girl you know it's you that I adore," to which Whitney replies, sweetly: "And there's no one in this world that I love more."
Kevin Costner emerged from the Eighties as Hollywood's most
important and versatile suprestar. His first job as a director on the
epic western Dances with Wolves, a breathtaking film in which Costner
plays a soldier alone on the frontier, learning the ways of the Sioux
Indians. The spectacular three-hours film was widely praised by critics.
Working on a limited budget (he gave up part of his fee to reduce
production costs), Costner made Dances with Wolves into an unforgettable
cinematic experience, and at the US Academy Awards in 1991 he took away
the Oscar for Best Picture and best Director.
Only days after the completion of Dances with Wolves, Kevin started shooting Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.Costners next role was in the controversial political thriller JFK directed by Oliver Stone (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July), in which he reconstructed District Attorney Jim Garrison's investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy. Like so many of Costenr's most successful characterizations, Garrison was seen to have a higher purpose than mundane detective work. he had a quest, an all-encompassing purpose in life. For Elliot Ness in The Untouchables, the motivation was Likewise in The Bodygard, in which Costner played poker-faced Frank Framer, the hero's reason for living is complete dedication to work - he was the paragon on professionalism,ready to die to save the life of his employer.
Costner's on-screen power seems to come from a brooding inner drive - on the surface he may be distant, insensitive, officious or angry, but deep inside his character always have a strongly intuitive sense of right and wrong. So, although the good guy does not always win, at least the audience is left knowing who the hero really is.
Despite achieving cumulative box-office taking throughout his career of $1.3 billion, much of the boyish, down-to-earth personality shines through the glitter. Costner's 15-year marriage to his wife Cindy has lasted longer than most Hollywood careers. He has three children, Annie, Lily and Joe. He has his own filmmaking company, Tig Productions, which was responsible for both Dances with Wolves and The Bodyguard. Somehow, amid the extraordinary world of Hollywood, Kevin Costner remains just an ordinary guy.
When Kevin Costner's offer came along, it seemed too good to be
true. Whitney told Rolling Stone: "I got a call saying that there was
a script that kevin Costner had, called The Bodyguard, that he
wanted me to do. I went, 'Yeah, sure'" Was she really ready to perform
alongside the biggest Hollywood star of the moment? "I wanted to do some
acting, you know." Whitney told US movie magazine Premiere in
1992, "but I didn't think it would be this major."
It took a considerable time for Kevin to persuade Whitney to be his leading lady. "I was scared," she told Rolling Stone in 1993. "It took me two years to decide to do it. I kind of waited too long for Kevin. I think it got on hid nerves. He called one day and said, 'Listen, are you going to do this movie with me or not?' I told him about my fears; I said: 'I'm afraid. I don't want to go out there and fall.' He said 'I promise you I will not let you fall. I will help you.' And he did."
The album of the movie features six new Whitney Houston track, five
of which have been released as a singles in their own right, including
the outrageously successful 'I Will Always Love You'. On its release in
November 1992 in immediately broke the US record for the most albums sold
in one week. By the end of the year it was selling almost a million
copies a week in the USA alone, making it the third best-selling album of
the year after only five weeks!
It went on to sell more than ten million copies in the USA alone, and 22 million worldwide - the second most successful soundtrack album ever, after Saturday Night Fever It has already sold more copies than the Pink Floyd LP Dark Side of the Moon, which spent an unbroken 736 week on the album chart. The album also featured 'I Have Nothing', written by David Foster and Linda Thompson, which was reputedly inspired by the themes to early James Bond movies.
'I Have Nothing' became the sixth best-selling single of 1993 in the US reached Number 3 in the British charts, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song. More hit singles followed: a cover version of the familiar Chaka Khan track 'I'm Every Woman', produced by long-time collaborator Narada Michael Waldem; 'Run To You', in which Rachel Marron features in a stunning video, swathed in diaphanous white veils; and 'Queen Of The Night', a taunchy, guitar-heavy rock-dance groove, which was co-written by Whitney herself and introduces a fusion of new colours in her musical palette.
In march 1993 Whitney gave a birth to a daughter, named Bobbi Kristina, but this didn't stop her setting off on a world tour, which reached Britian in November for dates at Sheffield Arena and London's Earls Court Satium. Whitney was frequently joined on stage by her husband and baby, and at an exclusive after-show party at london's Hard Rock Cafe she was serenaded by a bespectacled Bobby in front of her 150-strong entourage. Many of the audience members at the sell-out shows were new fans, and there was, of course, one song that they always wanted to hear. The climactic 'I Will Always Love You' put a chill in the air as Whitney's extraordinary voice boomed out over the heads of thousands of stunned, silent listeners - but as soon as the song came to its climax, the roar of the crowd was inevitably deafening. Not only has the song become a classic on CD, it is also one of the most spine-tingling concert show-stoppers of all time.
There are always rumours about Whitney's future (and a remark of
A Star is Born may be on the cards). One project that she has
always longed to work on is a full-length gospel album. "That pop dance
stuff I can run off in my sleep; I feel like I'm a kid at an amusement
park" she told UK's The Sunday Times in 1990, a little too
irankly. "But gospel is very precious, intricate and delicate to me. You
don't just sing it, you live it. There are a few steps I have to make
before I'm ready for that. But it will happen. God knows that."
But despite this dream, the future holds only one real goal for Whitney now. Happiness, "You know what I feel? she asked Rolling Stone in 1993. "I feel old. For the most part, since I was 11 years old, I've been working, I did the nightclubs, I did the modeling, all that stuff... When I first started I was having a lot of fun. But it ain't fun no more. I enjoy what I do... but it's not fun." For now, Whitney's idea of fun is being with her baby and trying to live something close to a normal life: "Man, when I gave birth to her and when they put her in my arms, I thought 'This has got to be it. This is the ultimate.' I haven't experienced anything greater."
This page was connected times.