The late famous and elegant artist /actress Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American singer and actress. In 2009, Guinness World Records cited her as the most awarded female act of all time. Houston is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with 200 million records sold worldwide. She has released seven studio albums and two soundtrack albums, all of which have been certified diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Houston is the only artist to have seven consecutive number one Billboard Hot 100 songs. Her self-titled debut album (1985) became the best-selling debut album by a woman in history. Rolling Stone named it the best album of 1986 and one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Her second studio album, Whitney (1987), became the first album by a woman to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
Houston made her screen acting debut as Rachel Marron in the romantic thriller film The Bodyguard (1992). She performed the lead single from the film’s original soundtrack, “I Will Always Love You”, which received the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and became the best-selling single by a woman in music history. The soundtrack received the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1994, making Houston the first act to sell more than a million copies of an album within a single week period under Nielsen SoundScan system.
The album also makes her the top female act in the top 10 list of the best-selling albums of all time, at number four. Houston made other high-profile film appearances, including Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher’s Wife (1996), and contributed to their soundtracks; the Preacher Wife soundtrack became the best-selling gospel album in history.
Early Life and Career
Whitney Houston was born on August 9, 1963, in a middle-income neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey. She was the daughter of Army serviceman and entertainment executive John Russell Houston, Jr. (September 13, 1920 – February 2, 2003), and gospel singer Emily “Cissy” (Drinkard) Houston. Houston’s elder brother Michael is a singer, and her elder half-brother is former basketball player Gary Garland. Her parents were both African American.
Though her mother, Houston was the first cousin of singers Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick. Her godmother was Darlene Love and her honorary aunt was Aretha Franklin, whom she met at age 8 or 9 when her mother took her to a recording studio. Houston raised a Baptist but was also exposed to the Pentecostal church. After the 1967 Newark riots, the family moved to a middle-class area in East Orange, New Jersey. ] Her parents’ marriage later ended in divorce, and her father died in February 2003.
At the age of 11, Houston started performing as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where she also learned to play the piano. Her first solo performance in the church was “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”. When Houston was a teenager, she attended Mount Saint Dominic Academy, a Catholic girls’ high school in Caldwell, New Jersey, where she met her best friend Robyn Crawford, whom she described as the “sister she never had”.
While Houston was still in school, her mother continued to teach her how to sing. Houston was also exposed to the music of Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, and Roberta Flack, most of whom would have an influence on her as a singer and performer. Houston spent some of her teenage years touring nightclubs where her mother, Cissy, was performing, and she would occasionally get on stage and perform with her. In 1977, at age 14, she became a backup singer on the Michael Zager Band’s single “Life’s a Party”.
In 1978, at age 15, Houston sang background vocals for Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls. In the early 1980s, Houston started working as a fashion model after a photographer saw her at Carnegie Hall singing with her mother. She appeared in Seventeen and became one of the first women of color to grace the cover of the magazine. She was also featured in layouts in the pages of Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Young Miss, and appeared in a Canada Dry soft drink TV commercial. Her looks and girl-next-door charm made her one of the most sought after teen models of that time.
While modeling, she continued her burgeoning recording career by working with producers Michael Beinhorn, Bill Laswell and Martin Bisi on an album they were spearheading called One Down, which was credited to the group Material. For that project, Houston contributed the ballad “Memories”, a cover of a song by Hugh Hopper of Soft Machine. Robert Christgau of The Village Voice called her contribution “one of the most gorgeous ballads you’ve ever heard”.
Houston also appeared as a lead vocalist on one track on a Paul Jabara album, entitled Paul Jabara and Friends, released by Columbia Records in 1983. Houston had previously been offered several recording agencies (Michael Zager in 1980, and Elektra Records in 1981); her mother declined the offers on the grounds that Whitney had yet to complete high school. Houston graduated from Mount Saint Dominic Academy, a Catholic girls’ school in Caldwell, New Jersey, in 1981.
In 1983, Gerry Griffith, an A&R representative from Arista Records, saw her performing with her mother in a New York City nightclub and was impressed. He convinced Arista’s head Clive Davis to make time to see Houston perform. Davis was impressed and immediately offered a worldwide recording contract which Houston signed. Later that year, she made her national television debut alongside Davis on The Merv Griffin Show.
Houston did not begin work on her album immediately. The label wanted to make sure no other label signed her away. Davis wanted to ensure he had the right material and producers for Houston’s debut album. Some producers had to pass on the project because of prior commitments. Houston first recorded a duet with Teddy Pendergrass, “Hold Me”, which appeared on his album, Love Language. The single was released in 1984 and gave Houston her first success hit by becoming a Top 5 R&B hit. It would also appear on her debut album in 1985.
With production from Michael Masser, Kashif, Jermaine Jackson, and Narada Michael Walden, Houston’s debut album Whitney Houston was released in February 1985. Houston got some accolades from Rolling Stone magazine calling her “one of the most exciting new voices in years” while The New York Times called the album “an impressive, musically conservative showcase for an exceptional vocal talent”. Arista Records promoted Houston’s album with three different singles from the album in the US, UK, and other European countries.
Houston continued promotion by touring nightclubs in the US. She also began performing on late-night television talk shows, which were not usually accessible to unestablished black acts. The jazzy ballad “Saving All My Love for You” was released next and it became Houston’s first No. 1 single in both the US and the UK. By 1986, a year after its initial release, Whitney Houston topped the Billboard 200 albums chart and stayed there for 14 non-consecutive weeks.
The final single, “Greatest Love of All”, a cover of “The Greatest Love of All”, originally recorded by George Benson in 1977, became Houston’s biggest hit at the time after peaking No. 1 and remaining there for three weeks on the Hot 100 chart, which made her debut the first album by a woman to yield three No. 1 hits. Houston was No. 1 artist of the year and Whitney Houston was the No. 1 album of the year on the 1986 Billboard year-end charts, making her the first woman to earn that distinction. At the time, Houston released the best-selling debut album by a solo artist. Houston then embarked on her world tour, Greatest Love Tour.
The album had become an international success, and was certified 13× platinum (diamond) in the United States alone, and has sold 30 million copies worldwide.
With many expectations, Houston’s second album, Whitney, was released in June 1987. The album again featured production from Masser, Kashif, and Walden as well as Jellybean Benitez. Houston became the first woman in music history to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and the first artist to enter the albums chart at number one in both the US and UK, while also hitting number one or top ten in dozens of other countries around the world.
The album’s first single, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”, was also a massive hit worldwide, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and topping the singles chart in many countries such as Australia, Germany, and the UK. The next three singles, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, “So Emotional”, and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” all peaked at number one on the US Hot 100 chart, which gave her a total of seven consecutive number one hits, breaking the record of six previously shared by The Beatles and the Bee Gees. Houston became the first woman to generate four number-one singles from one album. Whitney has been certified 9× Platinum in the US for shipments of over 9 million copies and has sold a total of 20 million copies worldwide.
Houston was a supporter of Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement. During her modeling days, she refused to work with agencies who did business with then-apartheid South Africa. On June 11, 1988, during the European leg of her tour, Houston joined other musicians to perform a set at Wembley Stadium in London to celebrate a then-imprisoned Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday. Over 72,000 people attended Wembley Stadium, and over a billion people tuned in worldwide as the rock concert raised over $1 million for charities while bringing awareness to apartheid. Houston then flew back to the US for a concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City in August.
The show was a benefit concert that raised a quarter of a million dollars for the United Negro College Fund. In the same year, she recorded a song for NBC’s coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics, “One Moment in Time”, which became a Top 5 hit in the US, while reaching number one in the UK and Germany. With her world tour continuing overseas, Houston was still one of the top 20 highest-earning entertainers for 1987–88 according to Forbes magazine.
In the Welcome Home Heroes concert in 1991, Houston performed “Saving All My Love for You”.
In 1989, Houston formed The Whitney Houston Foundation For Children, a non-profit organization that has raised funds for the needs of children around the world. The organization cares for homelessness, children with cancer or AIDS, and other issues of self-empowerment. With the success of her first two albums, Houston became an international crossover superstar, the most prominent since Michael Jackson.
However, some black critics believed she was “selling out”. They felt her singing on record lacked the soul that was present during her live concerts. At the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards, when Houston’s name was called out for a nomination, a few in the audience jeered. Houston took a more urban direction with her third studio album, I’m Your Baby Tonight, released in November 1990. She produced and chose producers for this album and as a result, it featured production and collaborations with L.A. Reid and Babyface, Luther Vandross, and Stevie Wonder.
In 1990, Houston was the spokesperson for a youth leadership conference hosted in Washington, D.C. She had a private audience with President George H. W. Bush in the Oval Office to discuss the associated challenges. In 1991, Houston put together her Welcome Home and women. HBO descrambled the concert so that it was free for everyone to watch. Heroes concert with HBO for the soldiers fighting in the Persian Gulf War and their families. The free concert took place at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia in front of 3,500 servicemen. Houston’s concert gave HBO its highest ratings ever.
The “I Will Always Love You” single which was certified 4× platinum by the RIAA, making Houston the first woman with a single to reach that level in the RIAA history and becoming the best-selling single by a woman in the USA. The song also became a global success, hitting number-one in almost all countries, and the best-selling single of all time by a female solo artist with 20 million copies sold. The soundtrack topped the Billboard 200 chart and remained there for 20 non-consecutive weeks, the longest tenure by any Arista album on the chart in the Nielsen SoundScan era (tied for 10th overall by any label), and became one of the fastest selling albums ever. During Christmas week of 1992, the soundtrack sold over a million copies within a week, becoming the first album to achieve that feat under Nielsen SoundScan system. With the follow-up singles “I’m Every Woman”, a Chaka Khan cover, and “I Have Nothing” both reaching the top five, Houston became the first woman to ever have three singles in the Top 11 simultaneously.
The album was certified 18× platinum in the US alone, with worldwide sales of 45 million, making it the biggest-selling album by a female act on the list of the world’s Top 10 best-selling albums.
After spending much of the early and mid-1990s working on motion pictures and their soundtrack albums, Houston’s first studio album in eight years, “My Love Is Your Love” was released in November 1998. In May 2000, Whitney: Greatest Hits was released worldwide. The double disc set peaked at number five in the United States, reaching number one in the United Kingdom. In addition, the album reached the Top 10 in many other countries.
In August 2001, Houston signed one of the biggest record deals in music history, with Arista/BMG. She renewed her contract for $100 million to deliver six new albums, on which she would also earn royalties. She later made an appearance on Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special. In December 2002, Houston released her fifth studio album, Just Whitney. The album included productions from then-husband Bobby Brown, as well as Missy Elliott and Babyface, and marked the first time that Houston did not produce with Clive Davis as Davis had been released by top management at BMG. Upon its release, The album debuted at number 9 on the Billboard 200 chart and it had the highest first-week sales of any album Houston had ever released.
In late 2003, Houston released her first Christmas album One Wish: The Holiday Album, with a collection of traditional holiday songs. Houston produced the album with Mervyn Warren and Gordon Chambers. A single titled “One Wish (for Christmas)” reached the Top 20 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and the album was certified gold in the US.
Houston released her new album, I Look to You, in August 2009. The album’s first two singles were the title track “I Look to You” and “Million Dollar Bill”. The album entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1, with Houston’s best opening week sales of 305,000 copies, marking Houston’s first number one album since The Bodyguard, and Houston’s first studio album to reach number one since 1987’s Whitney,and three weeks after release ” I Look to You” went gold.
Whitney’s Marriage & Family
Throughout the 1980s, Houston was romantically linked to American football star Randall Cunningham and actor Eddie Murphy. She then met R&B singer Bobby Brown at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards. After a three-year courtship, they got married on July 18, 1992.
On March 4, 1993, Houston gave birth to their daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown (March 4, 1993 – July 26, 2015), the couple’s only child.
After years of controversy and turmoil, Houston separated from Bobby Brown in September 2006 and filed for divorce the following month. On February 1, 2007, Houston asked the court to fast-track the divorce. The divorce was finalized on April 24, 2007, with Houston granted custody of Bobbi Kristina. On May 4, Houston sold the suburban Atlanta home featured in Being Bobby Brown for $1.19 million. A few days later, Brown sued Houston in Orange County, California court in an attempt to change the terms of their custody agreement.
Brown also sought child and spousal support from Houston. In the lawsuit, Brown claimed that financial and emotional problems prevented him from properly responding to Houston’s divorce petition. Brown lost at his court hearing, leaving Houston with full custody and Brown with no spousal support.
Whitney’s Movie Career
Following the commercial success of her albums, movie offers came rushing in, including offers to work with Robert De Niro, Quincy Jones, and Spike Lee, but Houston did not feel the time was right. Houston’s first film role was in The Bodyguard, released in 1992 and co-starring Kevin Costner. Houston played Rachel Marron, a star who is stalked by a crazed fan and hires a bodyguard to protect her. USA Today listed it as one of the 25 most memorable movie moments of the last 25 years in 2007.
Houston’s mainstream appeal allowed people to look past the interracial nature of the relationship between her character and Costner’s. However, controversy arose as some felt the film’s advertising intentionally hid Houston’s face to hide the film’s interracial relationship. In an interview with Rolling Stone in 1993, Houston commented that “people know who Whitney Houston is – I’m black. You can’t hide that fact.” Houston received a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actress. The Washington Post said Houston was “doing nothing more than playing Houston,” but added that she came out “largely unscathed if that is possible in so cockamamie an undertaking”.
The New York Times commented that she lacked passion with her co-star. Despite the film’s mixed reviews, it was hugely successful at the box office, grossing more than $121 million in the U.S. and $410 million worldwide, making it one of the top 100 grossing films in film history at its time of release, though it is no longer in the top 100 because of rising ticket prices since the time the film was released. The film’s soundtrack also enjoyed success. Houston executive-produced and contributed six songs for the motion picture’s adjoining soundtrack album. The soundtrack’s lead single was “I Will Always Love You”, The single peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for a then-record-breaking 14 weeks, number one on the R&B chart for a then-record-breaking 11 weeks, and number one on the Adult Contemporary charts for five weeks.
In 1995, Houston starred alongside Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, and Lela Rochon in her second film, Waiting to Exhale, a motion picture about four African-American women struggling with relationships. Houston played the lead character Savannah Jackson, a TV producer in love with a married man. She chose the role because she saw the film as “a breakthrough for the image of black women because it presents them both as professionals and as caring mothers”. While paving the way for other all-black movies such as How Stella Got Her Groove Back and the Tyler Perry movies that became popular in the 2000s.
The film is also notable for its portrayal of black women as strong middle-class citizens rather than as stereotypes. The reviews were mainly positive for the ensemble cast. The New York Times said: “Ms. Houston has shed the defensive hauteur that made her portrayal of a pop star in ‘The Bodyguard’ seem so distant.” The film’s accompanying soundtrack, Waiting to Exhale: Original Soundtrack Album, was written and produced by Babyface. Though he originally wanted Houston to record the entire album, she declined. Instead, she “wanted it to be an album of women with vocal distinction”, and thus gathered several African-American female artists for the soundtrack, to go along with the film’s message about strong women. Consequently, the album featured a range of contemporary R&B female recording artists along with Houston, such as Mary J. Blige, Brandy, Toni Braxton, Aretha Franklin, and Patti LaBelle. Houston’s “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” peaked at No. 1, and then spent a record eleven weeks at the No. 2 spot and eight weeks on top of the R&B Charts.
In 1996, Houston starred in the holiday comedy The Preacher’s Wife, with Denzel Washington. She plays a gospel-singing wife of a pastor (Courtney B. Vance). It was largely an updated remake of the 1948 film The Bishop’s Wife, which starred Loretta Young, David Niven, and Cary Grant. Houston earned $10 million for the role, making her one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood at the time and the highest-earning African-American actress in Hollywood. Houston recorded and co-produced, with Mervyn Warren, the film’s accompanying gospel soundtrack.
The Preacher’s Wife: Original Soundtrack Album included six gospel songs with Georgia Mass Choir that were recorded at the Great Star Rising Baptist Church in Atlanta. Houston also duetted with gospel legend Shirley Caesar. The album sold six million copies worldwide and scored hit singles with “I Believe in You and Me” and “Step by Step”, becoming the largest selling gospel album of all time.
In 1997, Houston’s production company changed its name to BrownHouse Productions and was joined by Debra Martin Chase. Their goal was “to show aspects of the lives of African-Americans that have not been brought to the screen before” while improving how African-Americans are portrayed in film and television.
Their first project was a made-for-television remake of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. In addition to co-producing, Houston starred in the movie as the Fairy Godmother along with Brandy, Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg, and Bernadette Peters. Houston was initially offered the role of Cinderella in 1993, but other projects intervened. The film is notable for its multi-racial cast and nonstereotypical message. An estimated 60 million viewers tuned into the special giving ABC its highest TV ratings in 16 years. The movie received seven Emmy nominations including Outstanding Variety, Musical or Comedy while winning Outstanding Art Direction in a Variety, Musical or Comedy Special.
Whitney’s Awards and Nominations
At the 1986 Grammy Awards, Houston was nominated for three awards including Album of the Year. Houston was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture”.
In January 2010, Houston was nominated for two NAACP Image Awards, one for Best Female Artist and one for Best Music Video.
At the 30th Grammy Awards in 1988, Houston was nominated for three awards, including Album of the Year,
Houston won three Grammys for the album in 1994, including two of the Academy’s highest honors, Album of the Year and Record of the Year.
Whitney Houston was the highest earning African-American woman overall and the third highest entertainer after Bill Cosby and Eddie Murphy. Houston was the most awarded female artist of all time, according to Guinness World Records, with two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010. Houston also won two American Music Awards in 1988 and 1989, respectively, and a Soul Train Music Award.
Houston won seven American Music Awards in total in 1986 and 1987, and an MTV Video Music Award. She won Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist at the 1997 American Music Awards for The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack. winning her second Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”.
She held the all-time record for the most American Music Awards of any female solo artist and shared the record with Michael Jackson for the most AMAs ever won in a single year with eight wins in 1994. Houston won a record 11 Billboard Music Awards at its fourth ceremony in 1993. She also had the record for the most WMAs won in a single year, winning five awards at the 6th World Music Awards in 1994. Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for “Saving All My Love for You”.
Houston’s performance of the song during the Grammy telecast later earned her an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. She won the award for Best Music Video for her single “I Look to You”. On January 16, she received The BET Honors Award for Entertainer citing her lifetime achievements spanning over 25 years in the industry.
In addition, she won a record 8 American Music Awards at that year’s ceremony including the Award of Merit, 11 Billboard Music Awards, 3 Soul Train Music Awards in 1993–94 including Sammy Davis, Jr. Award as Entertainer of the Year, 5 NAACP Image Awards including Entertainer of the Year, a record 5 World Music Awards, and a BRIT award.
Whitney Houston albums discography, Whitney Houston singles discography, and Whitney Houston videography.
Whitney Houston (1985)
I’m Your Baby Tonight (1990)
My Love Is Your Love (1998)
Just Whitney… (2002)
One Wish: The Holiday Album (2003)
I Look to You (2009)
The Bodyguard (1992)
Waiting to Exhale (1995)
The Preacher’s Wife (1996)
List of Whitney Houston live performances
The Greatest Love World Tour (1986)
Moment of Truth World Tour (1987–88)
I’m Your Baby Tonight World Tour (1991)
The Bodyguard World Tour (1993–94)S
My Love Is Your Love World Tour (1999)
Nothing but Love World Tour (2010)
Feels So Right Tour (1990)
Pacific Rim Tour (1997)
The European Tour (1998)
Soul Divas Tour (2004)
Artists Influenced by Whitney
A number of artists have acknowledged Houston as an influence, including Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Leona Lewis, Oscar Winner, Jennifer Hudson,Toni Braxton, Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, LeAnn Rimes, Jessica Simpson, Nelly Furtado, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Ciara, Pink, Aneeka, Ashanti, Hayley Williams, Robin Thicke, Jennifer Hudson, Stacie Orrico, Amerie, Destiny’s Child, and Ariana Grande. Mariah Carey, who was often compared to Houston, said, “She [Houston] has been a big influence on me.” She later told USA Today that “none of us would sound the same if Aretha Franklin hadn’t ever put out a record, or Whitney Houston hadn’t.”
Celine Dion who was the third member of the troika that dominated female pop singing in the 1990s, did a telephone interview with Good Morning America on February 13, 2012, saying “Whitney’s been an amazing inspiration for me. I’ve been singing with her my whole career, actually. I wanted to have a career like hers, sing like her, look beautiful like her.” Beyoncé told the Globe and Mail that Houston “inspired [her] to get up there and do what [she] did”. She also wrote on her website on the day after Houston’s death, “I, like every singer, always wanted to be just like [Houston]. Her voice was perfect. Strong but soothing.
Whitney’s Death & Funeral
Houston was found dead in her guest room at the Beverly Hilton, in Beverly Hills, California. The report showed that she had accidentally drowned in the bathtub, with heart disease and cocaine use as contributing factors. News of her death coincided with the 2012 Grammy Awards and featured prominently in international media. Houston reportedly appeared “disheveled” and “erratic” in the days immediately prior to her death. On Thursday, February 9, 2012, at age 48.
Houston visited singers Brandy and Monica, together with Clive Davis, at their rehearsals for Davis’ pre-Grammy Awards party at The Beverly Hiltons in Beverly Hills. That same day, she made her last public performance when she joined Kelly Price on stage in Hollywood, California and sang “Jesus Loves Me”.
Two days later, on February 11, Houston was found unconscious in Suite 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, submerged in the bathtub. Beverly Hills paramedics arrived at approximately 3:30 p.m., found Houston unresponsive and performed CPR. Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. PST. The cause of death was not immediately known, local police said there were “no obvious signs of criminal intent”.
On March 22, 2012, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office reported that Houston’s death was caused by drowning and the “effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use”. The office stated the amount of cocaine found in Houston’s body indicated that she used the substance shortly before her death. Toxicology results revealed additional drugs in her system: diphenhydramine (Benadryl), alprazolam (Xanax), cannabis and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril). The manner of death was listed as an “accident”.
An invitation-only memorial service was held for Houston on Saturday, February 18, 2012, at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. The service was scheduled for two hours but lasted four. Among those who performed at the funeral were Stevie Wonder (rewritten version of “Ribbon in the Sky”, and “Love’s in Need of Love Today”), CeCe Winans (“Don’t Cry”, and “Jesus Loves Me”), Alicia Keys (“Send Me an Angel”), Kim Burrell (rewritten version of “A Change Is Gonna Come”), and R. Kelly (“I Look to You”).
The performances were interspersed with hymns by the church choir and remarks by Clive Davis, Houston’s record producer; Kevin Costner; Rickey Minor, her music director; her cousin, Dionne Warwick; and Ray Watson, her security guard for the past 11 years.
Aretha Franklin was listed on the program and was expected to sing, but was unable to attend the service. Bobby Brown, Houston’s ex-husband, was also invited to the funeral but he left shortly after the service began. Houston was buried on February 19, 2012, in Fairview Cemetery, in Westfield, New Jersey, next to her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003. In June 2012, the McDonald’s Gospelfest in Newark became a tribute to Houston.