Whitney Houston's Birthday: 49 Magical Moments From the Legendary Singer's Life and Career (PHOTOS)
On April 29, 1985, music mogul Clive Davis brought an unknown female singer to The Merv Griffin Show in an effort to introduce her to the world. Dressed in an off-the-shoulder gown with puffy sleeves, the 21-year-old girl stepped onto the soundstage as the opening strains of “Home,” the signature ballad from The Wiz, began to play. She looked nervous, fidgeting with her microphone and clutching her hands tightly.
And then, she began to sing.
"There was Lena Horne. There is Dionne Warwick,” Davis told Griffin. “ But if the mantle is to pass to somebody ... who's elegant, who's sensuous, who's innocent, who's got an incredible range of talent, but guts and soul at the same time, it will be Whitney Houston.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Whitney Elizabeth Houston – who would have turned 49 years of age on August 9 – took the mantle of which Davis spoke, and ran with it. Over the course of her spectacular career, she became one of the most successful recording artists in history, creating countless hits, winning a record-setting number of awards and performing to sellout crowds.
But the applause ended abruptly. As legends often do, Houston left too soon: she died – from accidental drowning, heart disease and cocaine use – on February 11, 2012. In a moment that was both heartwarming and heartwrenching, her biggest hit, “I Will Always Love You,” played at the end of her star-studded funeral.
click here) ranges from her birth in a middle-class Newark, New Jersey, neighborhood to the very highest peaks of her career, to the sad day that the world – including the heartbroken generation of '80s kids who watched her dance in neon colors in the “How Will I Know” video, who sang “The Greatest Love of All” at their high school graduations, who still sit down to watch “The Bodyguard” every time it’s shown on network TV – felt that they had lost a friend.
Happy birthday, Whitney. And wherever you are, rest assured: We will always love you.