Whitney Elizabeth Houston was an American R&B and pop singer and is the most awarded female act of all time including 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010. Houston is also one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 170 million albums and singles worldwide. She died on February 11, 2012.
Inspired by several prominent soul singers in her family, including mother Cissy Houston and cousins Dionne Warwick and the late Dee Dee Warwick, as well as her godmother, Aretha Franklin, Houston began singing with New Jersey church's junior gospel choir at age 11. She began performing alongside her mother in night clubs in the New York City area and was discovered by Arista Records label head Clive Davis.
Houston is the only artist to chart seven consecutive #1 Billboard Hot 100 hits and is the second artist behind Elton John and the only female artist to have two number-one Top Billboard 200 Album awards on the Billboard magazine year-end charts. Houston's 1985 debut album, Whitney Houston, became the best-selling debut album by a female act at the time of its release. The album was also named Rolling Stone's best album of 1986, and was ranked at number 254 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Her second studio album, Whitney, became the first album by a female artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Houston's crossover appeal on the popular music charts as well as her prominence on MTV, starting with her video for "How Will I Know", influenced several African-American female artists to follow in her footsteps.
Houston's first acting role was as the star of the feature film The Bodyguard. The movie's original soundtrack won the 1994 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Its lead single, "I Will Always Love You", became the best-selling single by a female artist in music history. Houston continued to star in movies and contribute to their adjoining soundtracks, including the films Waiting to Exhale and The Preacher's Wife. The Preacher's Wife soundtrack would go on to become the best-selling gospel album in history.
Three years after the release of her fourth studio album, My Love Is Your Love, she renewed her recording contract with Arista Records. She released her fifth studio album, Just Whitney, in 2002, and the Christmas-themed One Wish: The Holiday Album in 2003. Amid widespread media coverage of personal and professional turmoil, Houston ended her 14-year marriage to singer Bobby Brown in 2006. In 2009, Houston released her seventh studio album, I Look to You.