Whitney Houston: the twilight of a diva


Name – Nickname

The singer was named Whitney Elizabeth Houston, but her family and closest friends called her Nippy.
Robyn Crawford, the singer’s best friend and assistant, shared that the nickname is based on a «naughty character» from a comic strip Whitney’s father used to read. «She earned that nickname», she said.

Nationality / Historical birthplace

Houston was American, as was her entire family. The singer was born on August 9th, 1963, in Newark, New Jersey.
Daughter of soul singer Cissy Houston. Her career began when she was only eleven years old in the children’s gospel choir at New Hope Baptist Church, near her home, later accompanying her mother in concerts.

The place where she died

Whitney died on February 11, 2012 at the age of 48. She was found lifeless at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. She was buried in Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, New Jersey next to her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003.
The official cause was «accidental drowning» although the investigation revealed the important role played by his heart problems and cocaine use.

Point out the several geographical area(s) that she lived in and her circumstances?

Houston developed her entire life in the United States, one of the places that most marked her professional life was the place where she grew up.

Religion / Ideology

Baptist church. Houston grew up singing in a Baptist church choir. She seems to have retained a loyalty to the religion of her birth throughout her life.
Houston, by all accounts, doesn’t seem to be a devout Christian. Her long history of drug abuse, even to the point of giving televised interviews on crack and showing up at airports with marijuana, but she has always spoken of closeness with God. Houston gives credit for her powerful voice to God, saying: God gave me a voice to sing with, and when you have that, what other gimmick is there?

Marital Status (marriage(s), (child or children)

Whitney’s only marriage was to singer and producer Bobby Brown.
Houston and Brown met at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards. She invited him to her 26th birthday party and their friendship turned into romance. They married on July 18, 1992 in what was the wedding of the year, with guests as illustrious as Donald Trump or Gloria Estefan.
It was a marriage full of controversy, drugs and jail, however, in 1993 their only daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown was born.
She died on July 26, 2015 , after spending half a year in a coma after she was found unconscious in the bathroom of her home.
The death was due to her immersion in water and a drug intoxication, causes similar to the death of her mother 4 years earlier.

Education in USA

Houston’s musical education is one of the most outstanding in the industry, and she seemed destined for greatness. Her mother, soul singer Cissy Houston, and her cousin, Dionne Warwick, provided Whitney with expert training from an early age. «When I started singing,» she once said, «it was almost like talking.»
When she was young, she studied at Mount Saint Dominic Academy.

How many albums did Whitney have?

The discography of American singer Whitney Houston, nicknamed “The Voice”, consists of seven studio albums, six compilations, two soundtrack albums, five box sets, six extended plays, and 57 singles. She has sold over 200 million records worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling music artists in history.

What is Whitney Houston’s best selling album?

The best-selling album by Whitney is The Bodyguard Original Soundtrack, which sold over 45,000,000 copies.
The Bodyguard Album set a record for the most albums sold in a single week since the Nielsen SoundScan introduced a computerized sales monitoring system in May 1991, with sales of 1,061,000 copies during Christmas week of 1992, becoming the first album sold over 1 million in one week.
The album received the highest initial certification of any album at 6 x platinum by the RIAA on January 18, 1993. The record was surpassed seven years later by ‘N Sync’s «No Strings Attached,» which received a 7 x platinum initial certification in April 2000.

What is the plot of the movie The bodyguard?

The story brought to the screen by Mick Jackson is based on one of Lawrence Kasdan’s first screenplays. The protagonist, Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) is a professional bodyguard hired to protect Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston), a pop singer and actress who has received several anonymous threats.
At first Frank and Rachel get along poorly; and in an abrupt way, with no transitions, things change until the first night they spend together. Then comes Frank’s inner debate, who thinks he can’t be both a good bodyguard and a man in love with his client: this is expressed by Costner’s good acting, in a new hero role. For her part, Whitney Houston makes a fine debut as a performer and offers a recital of beautiful songs composed expressly for the film. The film combines suspense and romance.

How many Diamond albums does Whitney Houston have?

In October 2020, Sony Music announced that Houston is the first Black recording artist to have three RIAA Diamond-certified albums, one of which is a soundtrack.
Her albums Whitney Houston and Whitney have also been certified 13-times platinum and 10-times platinum (otherwise known as diamond), respectively, while “I Will Always Love You” marks her first diamond single.

Your points of view about the main themes of Whitney Houston artistic work:
A. Greatest love of all
B. Love will save the day
C. I wanna dance with somebod

A. “Greatest Love of All” was produced by Michael Masser and written by the late Linda Creed, who is said to have written it during her battle with breast cancer. Whitney Houston recorded a cover of the song and released it as the ninth track on her 1985 self-titled album.
So in all, Whitney Houston is talking about “self-love” when she talks about the “greatest love of all love”. In addition, she appeals to her childhood, to the fact that youngest people should be taught to love themselves.

B. The fifth single from Whitney was “Love Will Same The Day”, an uplifting, feel-good song that really didn’t contain any hidden meaning beyond its title. Rolling Stone‘s Vince Aletti called the track “the only song to even remotely acknowledge the problems of the world at large and the most vivaciously percussive track on the record.”
Love will save the day, is an encouraging and motivational song for those who are having a bad day. An advice on how to handle problems, with only one solution: love.

C. «I Wanna Dance With Somebody» is one of her best known songs. It was released in May 1987 and was a hit. Thanks to it she received a Grammy in the category of Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. However, Whitney was very close to rejecting the song, as her producer Narada Michael Walden thought that it did not go very well with Houston’s voice.
The song it’s about finding love, and Houston sings it from the perspective of someone who doesn’t have it. It’s a sad song that sounds happy.

Anecdotes about the romance between Whitney Houston:
A) Ray J.
B) Kevin Costner

A) Five years after her divorce from Bobby Brown, the Grammy-winning superstar was linked to Ray J, the rapper brother of singer Brandy.
There was much hype about the pair in the days leading up to her passing. It is reported they were dating right up until her death in 2012 – at the time he was 31 and she was 48.

B) In The Bodyguard, Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston brought to life one of the most romantic movie couples of recent times. Off-screen, the two forged a great friendship that was key to the film becoming a classic of the genre.
On the day of the intimate farewell organized by the singer’s relatives, Kevin not only showed up, but also gave a 20-minute speech in which he showered her with praise and said she was the only one who could have played the role of Rachel Marron.
Some time later, Costner confessed that for years he sent letters to his friend expressing concern about her addictions and asking if she was getting help for them. «I don’t know if those letters were read,» he said in closing.

Main Aspects on Whitney Houston Biography in her childhood and as adult:
-Bobby Cristina Brown
-Cissy Houston
-John Russel Houston
-Gary Garland
-Michael Houston
-Rayah Houston
-Delia Mae Drinkard
-Susan Bell Drinkard
-Dionne Warwick
-Dee Dee Warwick

Bobby Kristina Brown: As we have already mentioned, Bobbi Kristina Brown was an American personality and singer, the only daughter the singer had.
Cissy Houston: Whitney’s mother, is an American soul and gospel singer. She had a successful career as a backup singer with artists such as Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin, and is now primarily a solo artist, winner of two Grammy Awards for her work. Influence from a very young age to the artist in music.
John Russel Houston: John was Whitney’s father, he had his own entertainment company and helped both Cissy and Whitney with their music careers at various times.
Whitney’s father reportedly helped negotiate deals and helped manage different aspects of the artist’s career.
Gary Garland: Gary is the half-brother of superstar singer Whitney Houston and also half-brother to Michael Houston.
Michael Houston: Michael is Whitney’s brother. After the death of the artist he made clarifications in the media. For years, rumor had it that Bobby Brown had introduced Whitney Houston to drugs — but Michael revealed to Oprah Winfrey that the real story was quite different
Rayah Houston: Niece of Whitney Houston.
Delia Mae Drinkard: Mother of Emily «Cissy» Drinkard Houston and grandmother of Whitney Houston and Dionne Warwick
Susan Bell Drinkard: Susan Bell is the greatgrandmother of Whitney Houston.
Dionne Warwick: Warwick is Houston’s first cousin. Her mother is the older sister of Houston’s mother, Cissy. Both Warwick’s mother and Cissy were part of a group called The Drinkard Sisters and made history at RCA Records in their prime.
Dee Dee Warwick: Dee Dee Warwick was an American soul singer. Following the example of her older sister, also a singer, Dionne Warwick, she changed her last name to her stage name. She was part of The Sweet Inspirations, achieving great success when she sang backing vocals for Aretha Franklin.

Friends of Whitney Houston allege that the singer was sexually abused by her cousin Dee Dee as a child. The revelations were made in the documentary «Whitney,» made with the cooperation of Houston’s family. They shed new light on the superstar’s turbulent life.

Friendships – Relationships Who is who? Anecdotes on:
a. Kevin Costner
b. Dee Dee Warwick
c. Robyn Crawford
d. Michael Jackson
e. Eddie Murphy
f. Bobby Brown
g. Nick Gordon
h. Germaine Jackson
i- Robert de Niro

Kevin Costner: Whitney’s friend and co-star in the acclaimed film The Bodyguard. Costner was adamant that he wanted Whitney Houston.
Dee Dee Warwick: As we have already mentioned, one of the people who most marked the superstar’s childhood was her cousin Dee Dee, who abused Houston when she was a child. The singer never spoke about the abuse in public.
Robyn Crawford: Best friend and assistant of Whitney. Crawford says her relationship with Whitney Houston was more than platonic at one point. Crawford and Houston met as teenagers while working together at a New Jersey summer camp. They moved in together and lived as roommates, and Crawford says their friendship turned romantic for a brief period of time.
Michael Jackson: As two of the greatest and most famous pop stars of the twentieth century, it was inevitable that Jackson and Houston would meet. Now, years after their tragic deaths, it has come to light that, even if for a short while, the two may have been more than just friends.
But similar to their apparent romantic relationship, a musical duet between Jackson and Houston never saw the light of day.
Eddie Murphy: Murphy and Houston were friends and had a good relationship, they were close to each other, so much so that Eddie tried to stop Whitney Houston from marrying R&B artist Bobby Brown, the late singer’s best friend has claimed.
Bobby Brown: As mentioned above, Brown and Houston were married from 1992 to 2007.
Nick Gordon: Nick Gordon was the fiancé of Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown. Their relationship was somewhat controversial as Nick had been raised by Whitney, although she never formally adopted him. He was said to be like an ‘older brother’ figure to Bobbi.
Germaine Jackson: Whitney Houston and Jermaine Jackson made sweet music together in and out of the recording studio, a new report says. The two had a yearlong affair in the early 1980s, before Houston was a superstar and while Jackson was married to Motown founder Berry Gordy’s daughter, the London Sun reported.
Robert de Niro: Hollywood actor Robert De Niro once had strong feelings for Houston and was so smitten, he pursued her more than one time.

Whitney Houston´s Contributions on the Cinematography Industry / Theatrical Representation
Is Whitney Houston an Icon of Fashion? A diva? A legend? How?

American entertainer Whitney Houston worked in four feature films, one television film, and seven television episodes, and appeared in seventeen commercials. In addition, she produced the well-known film The Princess Diaries, in 2001.
We can safely say that Houston was a fashion diva. Throughout her professional career she caused trends in fashion, becoming a model, and being an inspiration for the fashion world.
Not to deny that Whitney Houston’s name was and will be synonymous with legend, a world icon and an artist in many ways.

Whitney Houton´s repercussions
What is /are your point(s) of view on the figure of Whitney Houston?

Whitney Houston was a person with incredible potential, not only in music, but as an artist in general. However, like many other famous personalities, she did not have an easy life.
She started her professional career at a very young age, and from very early on she was involved in drugs. A situation that can be somewhat justified: a young woman under the criticism of the world, involved in relationships, often not convenient for her, or the abuse she suffered as a child. Not to mention that the 80s was the boom of drugs in the United States, their consumption became so normalized that going out was synonymous with drug use.

Can we consider her as a leftist political activist or as a feminist?
What is / are the contribution (s) of Whitney Houston to the Feminism / LGTB movement?

Houston was always committed to her black community and to women, yet she preferred to perform without the attention of the masses. For this she was criticized on certain occasions, however, we can see the powerful messages in many of her songs.
As the world remembers an icon gone too soon, we have to reflect on her place in the hearts of LGBT+ fans around the world.
In a 2000 interview with Out, Houston made her support for the LGBT+ community clear – while also denying rumours about her sexuality. Also, Whitney Houston turned up for a surprise appearance at the New York Lesbian and Gay Pride Dance in 1999, and sent queer fans into a meltdown in the process.
She performed “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay” – a queer classic in its own right – and “Heartbreak Hotel” to a crowd made up of 7,000 LGBT+ fans. As well, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, released in 1987, was a huge hit – and it has proven a timeless classic with queer fans.

Can we point out her artistic works as Pop Music or Soul?
Which one of her songs do you admire the most?

Houston was famous for having a very wide vocal range. Some of her songs covered wide vocal territory, from alto to the highest soprano. She could be cast in the Soul/R&B genres, but also in country pop.
Maybe it’s not admiration, but one of Whitney Houston’s songs I like the most is I wanna dance with somebody, because it reminds me of my childhood.

What was the main message of the following songs: (Briefly)
1. So emotional
2. When you believe
3. I will always love you
4. One moment in time

1. In this song, Whitney Houston has a man, but it’s one of her old flames she still burns for. She gets «so emotional» just thinking about him.
2. «When You Believe» is described as a big ballad, with meaningful and inspirational lyrics, describing the ability each person has to achieve miracles when they reach out to God and believe.
The song was a duet performed by Mariah Carey and Houston as the main theme for The Prince Of Egypt film.
3. So that being said, the true meaning of this song is the singer beating the point home that even though she and the addressee are indeed parting ways, she “will always love” this individual. That is no matter where life takes her away from him, she will never forget this person. And even though the insinuation is that the termination of their relationship is not a pleasant affair, she is still wishing him “joy”, “happiness” and “love” in his life’s journey.
4. With this song Houston expresses her resolve to utilize the chances she gets in a day to the best of her abilities and make her mark. With the initial verse, the writer states that she wants to live each day to the fullest and give her very best.


Razón: La profesora de Inglés I, Ruth A. Cotto, del Grado en Periodismo semipresencial solicita a su alumnado un análisis e interpretación de la vida y obra musical de la cantante Whitney Houston, entre otras posibilidades. Esta Actividad I consta de dos partes. En La primera parte, el alumno debe desarrollar un análisis exhaustivo sobre la vida y obra de Whitney Houston a través de una tabla de contenidos. En la segunda parte, el alumno deberá crear un Collage que represente cuatro momentos arriesgados en la vida de Whitney Houston a través de sus canciones.
Temática: En líneas generales, el trabajo aporta datos concretos y muy interesante de la vida de la cantante Whitney Houston. El dominio del nivel B-2 en lengua inglesa es evidente.
Alumnos: Andrea Tomás Bocallado.
Curso: 2022-2023.
Asignatura: Inglés II.

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