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Basmah Qazi

The fascinating life of Whitney Houston

The fascinating life of Whitney Houston

It is without a doubt that Whitney Houston was one of the greatest entertainers of our time. Her powerful voice and stage presence ensured that she sold out stadiums around the world, as fans flocked to see the legend up close.

Now, seven years after her passing, we take a look at the life the singer lived, and while it wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine, this was the legacy she left behind.

She came from a family of singers

It’s no wonder she was gifted with a beautiful voice, as it’s practically in her blood. Her mother, Cissy Houston was a Grammy-winning gospel singer and also worked with Elvis and Aretha Franklin as a backup singer.

Aretha was also Whitney’s godmother.

She grew up on the rougher side of town

During her childhood, Whitney didn’t live a lavish lifestyle, with the performer recalling ducking from gunfire during the 1967 riots in Newark, New Jersey – her hometown.

“I grew up in the ghetto,” she said in her biopic titled Whitney.

Those closest to her called her “Nippy”

The nickname was given to her at a fairly young age and was later on used as an alter ego for Whitney to get away from the fame and drama that came with being in the public eye.

She dated high-profile men

In the early years of her career, Whitney was linked to a string of famous men, including Eddy Murphy, restaurateur Brad Johnson, Robert DeNiro and American football quarterback Randall Cunningham.

She went on to marry Bobby Brown in 1992, with the couple sharing a daughter together.

She was considered to be a beacon of hope for the black community

Despite being bullied for being lighter-skinned, Houston was eventually embraced by the African American community after she catapulted to fame.

Her defining moment came after she appeared in the movie The Bodyguard alongside Kevin Costner, a film that broke social norms by showing a mixed-race couple at the forefront.

"The idea that she was my leading woman seemed to be a very big deal in the black community. I never saw that, I simply saw she was the cutest, most beautiful girl who could sing, and she happened to be black," recalled Costner.  

"Then I realised that she asked the plane to stop and she ran down the steps that every white woman has run down to kiss Cary Grant or whatever, and the camera went around, the way it went around white people kissing throughout the history of Hollywood and we forgot about what colour everyone was. That did change everything."

In 1994, Houston went on to play in post-apartheid South Africa where she dedicated her performance to Nelson Mandela. All proceeds were donated to local children’s charities.