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Gone But Not Forgotten: Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston, 8/9/1963 - 2/11/2012
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    Whitney Houston, 8/9/1963 - 2/11/2012
    Whitney Houston was inarguably one of the biggest female pop stars of all time, one of the first black artists to find MTV success in Michael Jackson's wake. Her accomplishments as a hitmaker were extraordinary. She became the first artist ever to have 7 consecutive singles hit #1, and her 1993 Dolly Parton cover "I Will Always Love You" became nothing less than the biggest hit single in rock history.
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    Whitney's mother was gospel/R&B singer Cissy Houston, and her cousin was Dionne Warwick. Nicknamed "Nippy", by 11, Houston was performing as a soloist in a junior gospel choir; as a teenager, she began accompanying her mother in concert and studio releases, and went on to back artists like Lou Rawls and Chaka Khan. Houston also pursued modeling and acting, appearing on the cover of Seventeen.
    Photo: Seventeen magazine
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    Whitney Houston acted on the 80s sitcoms "Gimme a Break" and "Silver Spoons", and even turned down the role of Sondra on "The Cosby Show". Shown here is an ad featuring Houston as a teen model.
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    In 1983, Arista Records president Clive Davis heard Houston singing at a nightclub and offered her a recording contract. In March of 1985, her self-titled debut was released.
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    With mega hits "Saving All My Love For You", "How Will I Know", and "The Greatest Love of All", her first album eventually sold over 13 million copies, making it the best-selling debut ever by a female artist.
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    The cover of the "Greatest Love of All" single
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    Whitney, racing towards the top, on the cover of People magazine in 1986
    Photo: People magazine
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    Whitney Houston cemented her superstar status on her next album, Whitney; it became the first album by a female artist to debut at #1, and sold over nine million copies.
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    Whitney's first four singles - "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)", "Didn't We Almost Have It All," "So Emotional," and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" - all hit number one. Whitney Houston on the cover of Jet magazine in 1986.
    Photo: Jet magazine
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    Whitney Houston performing in 1988. During the period following Whitney, she had become the highest earning African American woman, according to Forbes magazine. Photo: Getty Images
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    Whitney on the cover of Jet in 1989 with her cousin Dionne Warwick and mother Cissy Houston.
    Photo: Jet magazine
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    Whitney Houston singing the National Anthem before Super Bowl XXV on January 27, 1991. Her rendition of the National Anthem is considered one of the all time best. It even became a Top 20 hit that year during the Gulf War. Photo: Getty Images
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    1992 was a pivotal year for Whitney Houston. That summer, she married Bobby Brown, who she met at the 1989 Soul Train Awards while dating Eddie Murphy. Late in the year she returned to an acting career opposite Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard. Its soundtrack sold an astounding 16 million copies.
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    Future Whitney Houston movies included Waiting to Exhale and The Preacher's Wife.
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    Whitney Houston waves to the crowd at the 36th Annual Grammy Awards in March 1994 after she was honored for Record of the Year, "I Will Always Love You," and Album of the Year, the soundtrack from the film The Bodyguard. Photo: Getty Images
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    Whitney Houston receives from her mother, Cissy Houston, the World Best-Selling Pop Artist of the year award during the 6th World Music Award ceremony in Monte Carlo on May 5, 1994. Photo: Getty Images
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    Whitney Houston on the cover of TV Guide in 1994.
    Photo: TV Guide
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    Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown and their daughter Bobbi Christina in 1998. It was during this time the cracks started to show in Houston's private life. She started being hours late for interviews, photo shoots and rehearsals, and canceling concerts and talk-show appearances. With the missed performances and weight loss, rumors about Houston using drugs with her husband circulated. Two years later she and Brown would be arrested for drug possession. Photo: Getty Images
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    Still, some success was ahead. Here, Whitney Houston holds her sixth Grammy award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "It's Not Right but It's Okay" at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards in February 2000. Photo: Getty Images
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    After years of ongoing drama, including an ill-advised foray into reality television with "Being Bobby Brown", Houston divorced Brown in 2007. Whitney Houston gave her first interview in seven years in September 2009, appearing on Oprah Winfrey's season premiere where she admitted to past drug problems. Her final studio album also came in 2009. It showed promise - her first #1 album since The Bodyguard.
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    Whitney Houston performs onstage at the 2011 Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Salute To Industry Icons Honoring David Geffen at Beverly Hilton on February 12, 2011. She would die during next year's Grammy Award season. Photo: Getty Images
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    Whitney Houston's last project was the remake of the 1976 musical drama Sparkle with Jordin Sparks and Mike Epps. In 2001, Houston acquired the rights, and the film was to originally star another tragically killed performer, Aaliyah, in Sparks' role. Derailed by Aaliyah's fatal plane crash, the film became Houston's swan song a decade later.
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    February 2012, while in the middle of rehearsals for Clive Davis' pre-Grammy Awards party, Whitney Houston died from accidental drowning and cocaine-related heart disease. Houston's funeral was held in Newark, New Jersey. Among those who performed at the ceremony: Stevie Wonder, CeCe Winans, Alicia Keys, Kim Burrell, and R. Kelly. Photo: Getty Images
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    One day after Whitney Houston was found dead, Jennifer Hudson performed a touching tribute to her at the 54th Grammy Awards. Photo: Getty Images