10 Iconic Moments From Whitney Houston’s Career

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

It’s an undisputed fact that Whitney Houston had one of the greatest voices ever, period. Discovered by the lauded producer Clive Davis (who also gave us Janis Joplin, Barry Manilow, and Alicia Keys), Houston took her gospel roots and infused them with an era-defining pop sound.

She gave us countless hits and unparalleled performances before she passed away in 2012 due to coronary disease and prolonged drug use. As Mariah Carey said, during the late singer’s tribute segment at the BET awards after her death, “We will always have the music. We always have that voice we all fell in love with.”

As we get set to mark what would have been the legendary vocalist’s 59th birthday, on August 9, let’s look into just 10 of her iconic moments below.

1. Her breakthrough Track “You Give Good Love

Houston couldn’t have asked for a better debut. The 1985 self-titled album stayed atop the Billboard Hot 200 for 14 weeks in 1986. It also generated three No. 1 singles, which are subsequently some of her most popular tracks.

“Saving All My Love for You,” “How Will I Know” and “Greatest Love of All” clinched her the milestone of becoming the first solo female artist to produce three No. 1 singles on one album.

2. Her First Grammy Performance of “Saving All My Love For You”

After successfully surfacing in the mid-’80s, Houston won her first Grammy for the dulcet Saving All My Love for You.

She performed the track at the 1986 ceremony, which later went on to win an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.

3. ‘The Bodyguard’… Of Course

When you think of Whitney Houston, what song comes to mind? “I Will Always Love You” is likely at the top of the list. In 1992, Houston redefined collaboration between music and film with a cover of the seminal Dolly Parton track for the film The Bodyguard.

The song not only went on to be one of Houston’s best-selling tracks but also one of the most memorable cover songs of all time.

4. The Glorious Late ’00s Comeback

Houston remained on the down low for most of the ’00s, enduring multiple rehab stints and a divorce from her husband, Bobby Brown.

Though her live performances had become a little rocky by that time, her comeback album I Look To You debuted at No. 1 and was home to a number of underrated gems like “Million Dollar Bill.”

5. “One Moment in Time” at the 1989 Grammys

Three years after her first performance at the Grammy Awards, Houston was back again with another top track “One Moment in Time.”

Recorded for the 1988 Summer Olympics, the track captures the timeless nature of Houston’s talent and unparalleled stage presence.

6. Whitney V. Mariah?

In the midst of a rumored diva feud, Houston and Mariah Carey fought back in the best way possible. Scheduled to present Best Male Video at the MTV VMAs in 1998, the pair came out wearing matching “one-of-a-kind” dresses before tearing them away to reveal two new ensembles—iconic.

The pair then continued their pursuit of making nice by collaborating on a song for the Dreamworks film The Prince of Egypt, “When You Believe.”

7. I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Right up there alongside “I Will Always Love You” another track that immediately comes to mind when thinking of Houston is “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

Taken from her second studio album, Houston released the anthemic track as the LP’s lead single, wowing fans in their millions by leaning into her poppiest side. It is arguably the staple dance song with an unparalleled impact.

8. Her Ode to Her Daughter

Houston released “My Love Is Your Love” in 1998 as an ode to enduring love. There are elements of romantic love in there for sure, but the song notably touches on the relationship between a mother and a daughter.

Made even more poignant after the tragic passing of Houston’s daughter, the track opens with a very young Bobbi encouraging Houston to “Sing, Mommy.”

9. ‘Cinderella’

Houston elevated the already classic tale of Cinderella in 1997, by starring as the Fairy Godmother to Brandy’s princess.

The remake saw the duo take on iconic composers Rodgers and Hammerstein’s version of the story with Houston receiving numerous nominations for the production. It was additionally noteworthy for being one of the most culturally-diverse fairytales ever released.

10. Her Stunning Rendition of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ in 1991

No one sang the U.S. national anthem quite the way that Houston did at The Super Bowl XXV in 1991. She sang “The Star Spangled Banner” with such strength and grace that many mark the performance as the best rendition of all time.

The iconic performance also made her the first artist to reach the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart with the National Anthem.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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