One Moment In Time

February 12, 2012 by staff 

One Moment In Time, It’s hard for a lot of us-especially those of us who grew up with her after things had already started to get a little weird-to understand just how successful Whitney Houston was, in every conceivable way, at her early peak. Sports and pop culture writer Bill Simmons once summed it up thusly: “Young Whitney was like LeBron [James] crossed with Tiger [Woods]. Actually, you can’t even compare her to anything. Let’s say you rated a young female singer from 1 to 50 in five categories: likability, attractiveness, singing voice, pedigree and stage presence. Young Whitney was a 50 in all of them.” By age 25, she’d had seven #1 hits and released two albums that went on to sell over 20 million copies combined in the US-and she hadn’t even had her biggest success yet. She seemed destined to go down as one of the immortals, one of the greatest, most beloved pop performers in the history of recorded music.

Whitney might not quite have gotten to that level-despite almost unparalleled successful for her first ten years, personal issues (many stemming from drugs and/or her marriage to fellow pop star Bobby Brown) derailed her career shortly thereafter, and despite a couple successful comebacks, she spent most of the 21st century in relative ignominy. But few could deny that the greatness of her peak still ranks her as one of the most important solo performers of the last 40 years of popular music, her musical catalogue providing us with countless pop classics and her voice-that soaring, supernaturally powerful voice, which defined all the greatest aspects of divadom for so many music listeners-touching the hearts and lives of millions and millions of fans, including such sworn Whit devotees as Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Lady Gaga.

Whitney Houston was music royalty from birth, born to legendary gospel singer Cissy Houston, cousin to decade-spanning pop icon Dionne Warwick, and even the goddaughter to all-time Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. With that kind of pedigree, Whitney started her professional career early, singing backup on Chaka Khan’s 1978 hit “I’m Every Woman” (later covered by Whitney herself) at the age of 15 and then later for artists like Jermaine Jackson and Lou Rawls. In the meantime, however, her beauty and general likability also resulted in her becoming an in-demand teen model, appearing in magazines like Glamour and Seventeen and even a Canada Dry commercial. However, she continued on with her music career, eventually making a powerful friend in A&R rep Gerry Griffith, who introduced Whitney to the man who would take her career to the next level: Arista head honcho Clive Davis.

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