We lost one of the greatest voices the world as ever known today (Feb. 11), when iconic singer, actress and producer Whitney Houston was found dead at the age of 48. Though the circumstances of her death are still unknown, Houston’s impact on pop music has been well documented over the course of an impressive career that spanned more than three decades. And though that career has now come to a tragic end, we’ll always remember Whitney as she was in the nine moments below — at her very finest.
1. The Bodyguard
The soundtrack to the romantic-thriller motion picture in which she starred earned Houston five hit singles, two Oscar nominations, four Grammy nominations and three Grammy wins. It was on this, the bestselling soundtrack of all time — and the #4 bestselling album of all time — that Whitney indelibly transformed Dolly Parton’s country ode “I Will Always Love You” into the powerful soul-baring ballad that will be sung note for note by singing competition contestants and intrepid karaoke hopefuls for years to come. (At the moment, the album also holds the record for the most weeks at #1, Adele notwithstanding).
2. Whitney Houston performs the National Anthem at Super Bowl XXV
Just recently, we crowned Whitney’s patriotic performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the greatest of all time. And we hold fast to that decision, even after Kelly Clarkson’s masterful take on the tune last Sunday. Not only does she attack each note with grace and brio, Whitney keeps that infectious smile on her face the entire song.
3. Whitney and Mariah face off at the MTV VMAs
In 1998, Mariah Carey joined Whitney on stage to present Best Male Video at the MTV Video Music Awards. Rumored to be rivals at the time, the divas arrived in the same “one-of-a-kind” dress for a tongue-in-cheek standoff at the podium. After a bit of catty banter, both women tear away the hem of their gowns to reveal two different mini styles, then hug sincerely.
4. Whitney performs “Greatest Love of All” at the Statue of Liberty
The Newark, New Jersey native took the stage miles from her hometown at America’s most enduring landmark on its 210th birthday in 1986. It was a banner year for the star, as her self-titled debut topped the Billboard 200 for fourteen weeks, and generated three #1 singles, including “Greatest Love of All”, a song she says “has something to say to all of us, especially our young people,” in the performance below.
5. Whitney Houston becomes America’s crush with “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”
It was the pop song that electrified a million dancefloors, and the video that set a nation reaching for its crimping irons. The Brian Grant-directed clip sees Whitney wiggling in the tightest neon mini dresses, bright pink lipstick and sky-high waves. The song won her the 1988 Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance; the video earned her a Soul Train Music Award nomination.
6. Whitney Houston covers Rolling Stone magazine
By the time Whitney appeared on Rolling Stone‘s June 1993 issue, the singer had seen the ugly side of celebrity. The issue’s interview was no fluff piece, touching on rumors of lesbianism, the politics of interracial relationships and Clive Davis’ perceived Svengali role in her career, but the one-time model’s cover photograph was pure pop beauty.
7. Clive Davis introduces Whitney to the world on Merv Griffin
Whitney made her television debut on The Merv Griffin Show, where she performed “Home”, from the Broadway musical The Wiz. She entered only after an extensive (but accurate) introduction from her mentor, Clive Davis, who put her in the same class as Lena Horne and Dionne Warwick. “You either got it or don’t have it. She’s got it.”
8. Whitney Houston wins her first Grammy Award
Whitney took the stage at the 1986 Grammy Awards as a superstar after the year-long success of her blockbuster debut album. Nominated in several key categories, Whitney won the first of her six career Grammys for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Saving All My Love For You”. No one was happier than her cousin Dionne Warwick, who read her name from the podium.
9. Whitney Houston opens the Grammys with “One Moment In Time”
Recorded for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, “One Moment In Time” was near ubiquitous given NBC’s coverage of the game that year. A true anthem of inspiration, the song won Whitney an Emmy — and a spot opening the 31st Grammy Awards in 1989.