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CELEBRATING THE LIFE OF WHITNEY HOUSTON

FILE – 10 FEBRUARY 2013: One year ago singer/actress Whitney Houston was found dead in her hotel room at The Beverly Hilton hotel on February 11, 2012. Houston died the day before the 2012 Grammy ceremony which aired a special tribute to her. LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Singer Whitney Houston accepts the Winner of International - Favorite Artist Award onstage at the 2009 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

“I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows, If I fail, if I succeed, At least I’ll live as I believe, No matter what they take from me, They can’t take away my dignity, Because the greatest love of all, Is happening to me…”

—Whitney Houston, Greatest Love of All

Whitney Houston was definitely an inspiration to all. She was one of the greatest R&B icons to emerge from the 80s. Her voice, her style and her personality was one of a kind, and she will truly be missed.

She was found underwater in a bathtub in a Beverly Hills hotel, according to police. They have declined to speculate on the cause of death; however, no foul play was involved. She was 48.

“Whitney wouldn’t want us to mourn her death, she would want us to celebrate her life,” Ne-yo, Motown A&R Executive and R&B Singer and Song writer, stated on the night of the Grammy’s.

Whitney Elizabeth Houston, born on August 9 1963, was called to rest on February 11, 2012. Houston grew up in Newark, New Jersey and was the third and youngest child of Army serviceman and entertainment executive John Russell Houston Jr. and Gospel singer Cissy Houston. As you can see, Houston came from a family of talented entertainers, including her cousins Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick, and Godmother Aretha Franklin.

At age of 11, Houston began to follow in her mother’s footsteps and started performing as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where she also learned to play the piano. As a teenager she attended Mount Saint Dominic Academy, where she met her best friend Robyn Crawford, who she described as the sister she never had.

While Houston was still in school, her mother continued to teach her how to sing. Aside from her family, she was also inspired and exposed to the music of Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight and Roberta Flack. Her career started off in her teenage years when she toured at different nightclubs where her mother was performing, and she would occasionally grace the stage. At the age of 14, Houston became a back up singer on the Michael Zager Band’s single “Life’s a Party.” She was offered a recording contract by Zager, but Cissy declined and wanted her daughter to finish school first.

At the age of 15, Houston sang background vocals on Chaka Khan’s hit single, “I’m Every Woman,” which later turned into a hit on the monster-selling soundtrack, “The Bodyguard.”

In February 1985, Houston’s debut album “Whitney Houston,” was released. She was praised by Rolling Stone Magazine when they said that she was, “one of the most exciting new voices in years.” Arista Records promoted her album with three different singles in the United Stated, United Kingdom and other European countries, and from there the rest is history.

She was recognized by the book of Guinness World Records as the most awarded female act of all time. She won two Emmy Awards, six Grammy awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards and 22 American Music Awards, along with a total of 415 career awards in her lifetime. Houston was one of the world’s best-selling music artists, selling over 170 million albums, singles and videos worldwide. She released seven studio albums and three movie soundtrack albums, all of which have diamond, multi-platinum, platinum or a gold certification.

Houston has definitely laid out a legacy for others to continue to follow. She was an inspiration to many. Those who didn’t know her personally, felt like they did.

“Whitney touched our lives like Princess Diana did for people around the world. She was truly a blessing and a gift to all of us who believe that music can bring cultures from around the world to believe that there can be peace some day for all. My heart and prayers go out to her closest family and friends who have lost a daughter, mother, “sister,” and friend. You will be grieving much longer than some of us can even imagine. May you all find faith to be strong through these very hard days ahead,” Renee Stump; Muncie, Indiana; said.

Houston is survived by her mother Cissy Houston, ex-husband Bobby Brown and her daughter Bobbi Kristina. A private funeral is being held for her on Saturday at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey.

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Written By

Naomi K. Bonman is an entertainment and community journalist based out of Southern California. She has been in the field for 11+ years. She has had the pleasure of interviewing big names, such as Kelly Rowland, Chante Moore, Sway Calloway, just name to name a few. She was recognized by the California State Assembly for her work as a News Reporter. Bonman holds her Bachelors of Arts in Mass Media Arts with a concentration in Journalism from Clark Atlanta University, as well as her Masters in Public Administration. She is the founder of Purposely Awakened (www.purposelyawakened.com) and she is also a screenwriter, author, and youth advocate.

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