Whitney Houston would have turned 50 years old today, and the Queen of Pop is being remembered across the recording industry her outsized impact on music.
Sirius XM Radio is devoting a full day to the singer, with a program called “Celebration of a Lifetime: Whitney Houston’s 50th” that includes songs from throughout her career. The program also includes interviews with those who knew Whitney best, including family members Cissy Houston and Pat Houston.
It also has some big names from the recording industry, including Clive Davis and CeCe Winans, discussing the impact Whitney had on music.
The program airs on the Heart & Soul channel and through SiriusXM Internet Radio App on smartphones from Friday, August 9 at 9 am until Saturday, August 10 at 3 am.
Whitney Houston died in February 2012, suffering a cardiac event related to cocaine. When she was buried in a New Jersey cemetery, her headstone included the words “I Will Always Love You.”
The incredibly talented but often troubled singer left a giant mark on pop music, paving the way for other strong female artists like Mariah Carey.
After growing up in a middle-class neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey, Whitney Houston started singing at age 11 as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at New Hope Baptist Church. She quickly rose to prominence locally, joining her mother Cissy on stage at nightclub gigs in her teen years.
In 1978, when she was 15, Whitney Houston sang background vocals on Chaka Khan’s hit song “I’m Every Woman,” which Whitney would later cover for The Bodyguard soundtrack.
In the early 1980s Whitney started work as a fashion model, appearing in commercials and magazine photo shoots. At the same time she became a rising star in the recording industry, with several agencies vying to sign her.
Though Cissy insisted her daughter finish high school before signing, a representative from Arista Records saw Whitney perform in a nightclub and convinced the label head Clive Davis to see her in person. Davis was blown away, offering Whitney a worldwide recording contract and booking her a spot on The Merv Griffin Show.
Her career took off in the 1980s, and Houston stayed on top of the recording world for more than a decade. She released six studio albums, one holiday album, and three movie soundtracks, selling more than 200 million records worldwide.
Whitney Houston remains the only artist with seven straight No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits, and throughout her career Houston earned so many honors that Guinness World Records named her most awarded female artist of all time.
Houston branched into acting in the 1990s, scoring the lead role in The Bodyguard in 1992. The movie’s soundtrack won the 1994 Grammy Award for Album of the Year and its top single, “I Will Always Love You,” went on to become the top selling single from a female artist in music history.
Whitney Houston also had a great impact outside the recording industry, with an iconic performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the 1991 Super Bowl that took place against the backdrop of the Persian Gulf War.
After her death in 2012, Whitney was remembered from throughout the worlds of music and movies. The Bodyguard co-star Kevin Costner eulogized Whitney at her funeral, and Clive Davis said “Whitney would have wanted the music to go on and her family asked that we carry on.”
Now, on what would have been the 50th birthday for Whitney Houston, it seems that wish is coming true.