Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American singer and actress. She was certified as the most awarded female artist of all time by Guinness World Records and is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, with sales of over 200 million records worldwide. Houston released seven studio albums and two soundtrack albums, all of which have been certified diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Her crossover appeal on the popular music charts as well as her prominence on MTV influenced several African-American female artists.
Houston began singing in church as a child and became a background vocalist while in high school. With the guidance of Arista Records chairman Clive Davis, she signed to the label at age 19. Her first two studio albums, Whitney Houston (1985) and Whitney (1987), both peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 and are among the best-selling albums of all time. She is the only artist to have seven consecutive number-one singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, from "Saving All My Love for You" in 1985 to "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" in 1988.
Houston made her acting debut with the romantic thriller film The Bodyguard (1992). She recorded six songs for the film's soundtrack, including "I Will Always Love You", which won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and became the best-selling physical single by a female in music history. The soundtrack album won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year; it remains the best-selling soundtrack album of all time. Houston starred and recorded soundtracks for two other high-profile films, Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher's Wife (1996), with the latter's soundtrack being the best-selling gospel album of all time.
Following the critical and commercial success of My Love Is Your Love (1998), Houston renewed her contract with Arista for $100 million. However, her personal struggles began overshadowing her career, and the album Just Whitney (2002) received mixed reviews. Her drug use and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown received widespread media coverage. After a six-year break from recording, Houston returned to the top of the Billboard 200 chart with her final studio album, I Look to You (2009). On February 11, 2012, Houston was found dead at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. The coroner's report showed that she had accidentally drowned in the bathtub, with heart disease and cocaine use as contributing factors. News of her death coincided with the 2012 Grammy Awards and was featured prominently in international media. Houston will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020.