Given the sad circumstances of her death and those of her daughter, Bobbi Kirstina Brown, a little over three years later, it’s easy to think of nothing but tragedy when one thinks of the late, great, Whitney Houston.
But today, on what would’ve been her 56th birthday, we thought we’d look back at Houston in her prime.
A singularly gifted vocalist and up there with Michael Jackson as one of the few groundbreaking black pop stars of the 80s, Houston was a true music legend – and one who perhaps couldn’t be open about her own sexuality during her life.
Here are 10 of her biggest career highlights…
1) Her first Grammy performance of Saving All My Love For You’ in 1986
After a successful surfacing in 1985, Houston won her first Grammy in 1986, with her first number one single Saving All My Love for You. She performed the track the same night and later went on to win an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.
2) ‘You Give Good Love’ (1985)
A quintessential vinyl in anyone’s collection is Houston’s second UK single ‘You Give Good Love’. Peaking at number three on the US Billboard 100, the single is an impressive debut for the new star. The sexy track was the best breakthrough Whitney could have asked for.
3. 1992′ The Bodyguard (of course)
When you say Whitney, ‘I Will Always Love You’ probably popped straight into your head, didn’t it?
In 1992, Houston redefined collaborations between music and film, with The Bodyguard’s Dolly Parton Cover going on to become one of the most well-known and best-selling track of all time.
4) The glorious late ’00s comeback
During the most of the 00s, Houston remained silent, enduring multiple rehab stints and a divorce from husband, Bobby Brown in 2007.
Though her live performances had become a little rocky, her comeback album I Look To You debuted at Number One and was home to 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, this time for ‘One Moment In Time’.
Recorded for the 1988 Summer Olympics, the track captures the timeless nature of Houston’s talent, temperament and ability to make crowds adore her.
6) Ding, ding, ding! Whitney vs Mariah
In the midst of a rumoured diva feud, Houston and Carey fought back in the sassiest way possible.
Scheduled to present Best Male Video at the MTV VMAs in 1998, the pair came out wearing the same ‘one-of-a-kind’ dresses before tearing away the gowns to reveal different dresses. Legend…ary.
The pair later collaborated with the Disney diva-off ‘When You Believe’.
7) ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ (1987)
Dominating her second studio album, Whitney, and being released as the first single, ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ won in the fans in their millions as Whitney showed off her very poppiest side.
8) ‘How Will I Know’ – the isolated studio vocals
The isolated vocals from her hit ‘How Will I Know You’ leaked soon after Whitney’s death, and reminded us once more just how good she really was.
If you want an extra dose of heartbreak, listen to them set against the backing track from Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’.
9) Her ode to Bobbi Kristina
Even more poignant after the tragic passing of Houston’s daughter, Bobbi, is her massive single ‘My Love Is Your Love’.
Released in 1998, the single is an ode to everlasting love – romantic love, sure, but also that between a mother and daughter – and opens with a very young Bobbi encouraging Whitney to “Sing, mommy.”
10) Her jaw-dropping performance of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ in 1991
They say you haven’t made it until you’ve been invited to perform the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.
In 1991, Houston’s performance at Super Bowl XXV in the midst the Gulf War became an American cultural touchstone.