Monday Open Thread: Whitney Houston Week

This week will be dedicated to The Voice: Whitney Elizabeth Houston.

I still can’t believe she’s gone.
whitney houston-1

Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American singer, actress, producer, and model. In 2009, Guinness World Records cited her as the most awarded female act of all time.[1] Houston was one of the world’s best-selling music artists, having sold over 200 million records worldwide.[2][3] She released six studio albums, one holiday album and three movie soundtrack albums, all of which have diamond, multi-platinum, platinum or gold certification. Houston’s crossover appeal on the popular music charts, as well as her prominence on MTV, starting with her video for “How Will I Know”,[4] influenced several African American women artists who follow in her footsteps.[5][6]

Houston is the only artist to chart seven consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits.[7] She is the second artist behind Elton John and the only woman to have two number-one Billboard 200 Album awards (formerly “Top Pop Albums”) on the Billboard magazine year-end charts.[8] Houston’s 1985 debut album Whitney Houston became the best-selling debut album by a woman in history.[9] Rolling Stone named it the best album of 1986, and ranked it at number 254 on the magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[9] Her second studio album Whitney (1987) became the first album by a woman to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart.[9]

Houston’s first acting role was as the star of the feature film The Bodyguard (1992). The film’s original soundtrack won the 1994 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Its lead single, “I Will Always Love You”, became the best-selling single by a woman in music history. With the album, Houston became the first act (solo or group, male or female) to sell more than a million copies of an album within a single week period under Nielsen SoundScan system.[9] The album makes her the top female act in the top 10 list of the best-selling albums of all time, at number four. Houston continued to star in movies and contribute to their soundtracks, including the films Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher’s Wife (1996). The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack became the best-selling gospel album in history.[10]

On February 11, 2012, Houston was found dead in her guest room at The Beverly Hilton, in Beverly Hills, California.

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Life and career
1963–84: Early life and career beginnings

Whitney Houston was born on August 9, 1963 in what was then a middle-income neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey.[13] She was the daughter of Army serviceman and entertainment executive John Russell Houston, Jr. (September 13, 1920 – February 2, 2003), and gospel singer Emily “Cissy” (Drinkard) Houston.[14] Her elder brother Michael is a singer, and her elder half-brother is former basketball player Gary Garland.[15][16] Her parents were both African American, and she was also said to have Native American and Dutch ancestry.[17] Through her mother, Houston was a first cousin of singers Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick. Her godmother was Darlene Love[18] and her honorary aunt was Aretha Franklin.[19][20] She met her honorary aunt at age 8, or 9, when her mother took her to a recording studio.[21] Houston was raised a Baptist, but was also exposed to the Pentecostal church. After the 1967 Newark riots, the family moved to a middle-class area in East Orange, New Jersey, when she was four.[22]


At the age of 11, Houston started performing as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where she also learned to play the piano.[23] Her first solo performance in the church was “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”.[24] When Houston was a teenager, she attended Mount Saint Dominic Academy, a Catholic girls’ high school in Caldwell, New Jersey, where she met her best friend Robyn Crawford, whom she described as the “sister she never had”.[25] While Houston was still in school, her mother continued to teach her how to sing.[5] Houston was also exposed to the music of Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, and Roberta Flack, most of whom would have an influence on her as a singer and performer.[26]

Houston spent some of her teenage years touring nightclubs where her mother Cissy was performing, and she would occasionally get on stage and perform with her. In 1977, at age 14, she became a backup singer on the Michael Zager Band’s single “Life’s a Party”.[27] In 1978, at age 15, Houston sang background vocals on Chaka Khan’s hit single “I’m Every Woman”, a song she would later turn into a larger hit for herself on her monster-selling The Bodyguard soundtrack album.[28][29] She also sang back-up on albums by Lou Rawls and Jermaine Jackson.[28]

In the early 1980s, Houston started working as a fashion model after a photographer saw her at Carnegie Hall singing with her mother. She appeared in Seventeen[30] and became one of the first women of color to grace the cover of the magazine.[31] She was also featured in layouts in the pages of Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Young Miss, and appeared in a Canada Dry soft drink TV commercial.[28] Her looks and girl-next-door charm made her one of the most sought after teen models of that time.[28] While modeling, she continued her burgeoning recording career by working with producers Michael Beinhorn, Bill Laswell and Martin Bisi on an album they were spearheading called One Down, which was credited to the group Material. For that project, Houston contributed the ballad “Memories”, a cover of a song by Hugh Hopper of Soft Machine. Robert Christgau of The Village Voice called her contribution “one of the most gorgeous ballads you’ve ever heard.”[32] She also appeared as a lead vocalist on one track on a Paul Jabara album, entitled Paul Jabara and Friends, released by Columbia Records in 1983.[33]

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Houston had previously been offered several recording agencies (Michael Zager in 1980, and Elektra Records in 1981), however her mother declined the offers stating her daughter must first complete high school.[27][34] In 1983, Gerry Griffith, an A&R representative from Arista Records, saw her performing with her mother in a New York City nightclub and was impressed. He convinced Arista’s head Clive Davis to make time to see Houston perform. Davis too was impressed and offered a worldwide recording contract which Houston signed. Later that year, she made her national televised debut alongside Davis on The Merv Griffin Show.[35]

Houston signed with Arista in 1983, but did not begin work on her album immediately.[1] The label wanted to make sure no other label signed the singer away. Davis wanted to ensure he had the right material and producers for Houston’s debut album. Some producers had to pass on the project due to prior commitments.[36] Houston first recorded a duet with Teddy Pendergrass entitled “Hold Me” which appeared on his album, Love Language.[37] The single was released in 1984 and gave Houston her first taste of success, becoming a Top 5 R&B hit.[38] It would also appear on her debut album in 1985.

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26 Responses to Monday Open Thread: Whitney Houston Week

  1. rikyrah says:

    Weekend B.O. Nov.14-16 (Why Didn’t ‘Beyond the Lights’ Light Up at the Box Office?)

    By Sergio | Shadow and ActNovember 16, 2014 at 12:26PM

    ‘Beyond the Lights’ didn’t exactly catch fire at the box office this weekend. What were the reasons why?

  2. rikyrah says:




    White Women in LA Will Be Empowered by Black Women in New Series ‘Bye Felicia!’ (Watch Clip

    By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and ActNovember 17, 2014 at 2:40PM

    And I’m not even making this up… details from the press release follow.

    White women of LA are getting a serious confidence boost and a little dose of reality with the series premiere of “Bye Felicia!,” premiering Tuesday, December 9 at 9PM, on VH1.

    The 8-episode, hour-long series follows Atlanta-based life coaches Deborah Hawkes and Missy Young (who are both black) as they set out to help white girls across the Los Angeles area. Each closed-ended episode aims to empower two different women who could use a dose of honesty in order to turn their lives around. Hoping to impart their unique experience and wisdom through motherly tough love, Deb and Missy teach these women to say hello to their better selves and goodbye to Felicia.

    This sounds like
    the Lifetime networ series titled “Girlfriend Intervention,” which stars 4 African American women, who, in each episode, help a white woman seeking a complete makeover to “restore her confidence and inner glow.”
    What’s going on here folks? Really, someone help me out! A passing fad? Indicative of shifting trends in terms of relationships between black and white women? Send-ups of the mammy, or magical negro, or sassy black woman archetypes? Something else? Why is race so specific to the concept of these shows?

  3. rikyrah says:

    Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ Isn’t Just Another Black Superhero

    November 16, 2014 5:44 AM ET

    Last month Marvel Studios announced the roster for some upcoming features. In addition to Ant-Man and a female-led Captain Marvel film, Marvel’s Kevin Feige confirmed that on November 3, 2017, the studio planned to release one of its longest-rumored projects: The Black Panther.

    We in the nerdier parts of the Internet promptly lost our

  4. rikyrah says:

    Political Diversity Pioneers Win Medal Of Freedom

    November 14, 2014 9:38 AM ET

    Several of this year’s recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the national government gives to civilians, are people of color. They include recording star Stevie Wonder and the late Alvin Ailey, legendary choreographer and founder of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

    Still, many of the honorees made their presence felt on the political stage, challenging America’s presumptions about people of color.

    Suzan Shown Harjo, who is Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee, has long been an advocate for Native American rights.

    Before she petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the federal trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins, she had already successfully stopped other sports teams from using names and mascots demeaning to Native American cultures.

    She worked with Native American activist groups to get the University of Oklahoma to retire its mascot “Little Red” in 1970. Soon after, and with pressure from Harjo and these groups, Dartmouth University retired the “Indian” as its unofficial mascot. In the mid-1990s, Harjo persuaded the Kentucky Department of Education and schools to change all the school names and mascots that were Native American stereotypes.

  5. rikyrah says:

    The question Republicans must answer…

    “What would you do about this?”

    You can read more about Diane Guerrero’s story here. She doesn’t say how long her parents lived in the U.S. before they were deported, but we know that they came here from Columbia before she was born and were deported when she was 14 years old. They fled from chaos and did everything they could once they got here to legalize their status. But instead, they were eventually deported and she was left on her own to grow up without them.

    In a rare moment of honesty, even Newt Gingrich said that doing this to families is not right.

    “I don’t see how the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter of a century,” said Gingrich.
    While our pundit class simply sees all this as a power play between Republicans and Democrats, its important to keep in mind that it is the lives of children/young people like Diane that are at stake.

    If Republicans don’t like what President Obama proposes to do to stop this kind of thing from happening, then the least we should expect from them before they shut down the entire government is to tell us what they would do differently for people like Diane. And no, building a double-wide fence along our border with Mexico isn’t going to do it for families that are already here.

    The only thing that is keeping Republicans from having to answer this question is a news media that is consumed with the Washington D.C. game rather than the lives of people who are affected by what goes on there. Whether the village idiots like it or not, what happens to young people like Diane is FAR more important than the games they play.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Nancy LeTourneau @Smartypants60
    After reading Diane Guerrero’s story, I am out of fucks to give about Republican/media DC games
    11:48 AM – 17 Nov 2014

  7. rikyrah says:

    Walker tries to rationalize Medicaid opposition
    11/17/14 09:15 AM
    By Steve Benen
    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), fresh off his six-point victory in this year’s re-election campaign, appeared on msnbc the other day and offered a curious defense of his decision to reject Medicaid expansion.

    Tara Culp-Ressler had a good report on the interview.
    During an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, Walker was asked whether his position stemmed from an “ideological criticism,” and if he believes the handful of Republican governors implementing this provision of the health law are not “genuine conservatives.”

    The governor didn’t explicitly answer that question, pointing out that every state has different needs. But he did offer a broader criticism of the public health program.

    “Beyond that, I just ask the basic question: Why is more people on Medicaid a good thing?” he said. “I’d rather find a way, particularly for able-bodied adults without children, I’d like to find a way to get them into the workforce. I think ideologically, that’s a better approach, not just as a conservative, but as an American. Have more people live the American dream if they’re not dependent on the American government.”
    I can appreciate why governors like Walker find themselves in a tough position on this. On the one hand, Medicaid expansion is a no-brainer, which helps low-income families access medical care, improves state finances, and bolsters public hospitals. It’s exactly why so many GOP governors, even in red states, have embraced the policy.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Right-Wing Media Pretend Well-Qualified Attorney General Nominee Is A Partisan “Radical”

    Blog››› November 10, 2014 9:59 PM EST ››› MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS

    The attacks have continued even after issued a correction to its story. On the November 11 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs claimed Lynch’s membership in one of the country’s leading African-American sororities was “controversial” because Holder’s wife, a classmate of Lynch’s, also pledged Delta Sigma Theta.

  9. rikyrah says:

    They expected him to curl up in a ball..
    they really did.
    He has no more elections.
    repeat after me..


    GOP leaders set sights on tax reform but fret over newly combative Obama

    “I privately talk to senators, and they’re just baffled,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is in line to chair the Senate Budget Committee. “All the things that people were seriously upset with the administration about, it seems the president is doubling down on them.”

    At a news conference in Burma last week, Obama defended his pursuit of his priorities on immigration and climate change, advising Republicans not to take things so personally.

    “The fact that I disagree or Republicans disagree with me on a certain set of issues doesn’t preclude us working on areas where we do agree,” he said. “. . . One thing that’s going to be important for us to have a successful partnership the next couple of years is not making disagreements on a single issue suddenly a deal-breaker on every issue.”

  10. rikyrah says:

    Republicans Used Twitter to Bypass Election Laws

    November 17, 2014

    “Republicans and outside groups used anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data ahead of the midterm elections, CNN has learned, a practice that raises questions about whether they violated campaign finance laws that prohibit coordination.”

    “The Twitter accounts were hidden in plain sight. The profiles were publicly available but meaningless without knowledge of how to find them and decode the information, according to a source with knowledge of the activities.”

    “The practice is the latest effort in the quest by political operatives to exploit the murky world of campaign finance laws at a time when limits on spending in politics are eroding and regulators are being defanged.”

  11. Whitney was a treat this morning. I have tears in my eyes. Such an amazing talent.

  12. rikyrah says:

    GOP leaders fear new round of shutdown politics
    11/17/14 08:35 AM—UPDATED 11/17/14 08:55 AM
    By Steve Benen

    Politico reported over the weekend that Republican leaders, feeling exalted after a successful midterm cycle, are “facing a daunting reality: They are right where they left off.”
    Republican leaders wanted a quick and clean, drama-free lame duck session to kick off their new majority, but they find themselves heading toward a showdown over how to fund the government.
    For much of 2014, GOP officials hoped voters would not see the Republican Party as the home of shutdown politics and impeachment threats, and yet, it’s apparently mulling both, all because President Obama is poised to govern on immigration policy.

    Let’s tackle these one at a time. First, of course, is funding the government and preventing a shutdown after Dec. 11. A growing number of far-right lawmakers want to add language to a spending bill that would prevent the White House from taking executive actions on immigration, forcing a confrontation: either the president signs the bill that ties his hands or Republicans turn off the government’s lights again.

    In the House, GOP leaders want a clean, long-term spending bill that would prevent any shutdowns for at least a year, but top Republicans “begun to conclude that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to rally their caucus” behind the idea. Once again, rank-and-file conservatives just don’t seem to care what House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his team want.

    In the Senate, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office is reportedly so “worried” about a possible standoff that “by Friday evening they were circulating a memo showing how damaging last year’s shutdown was to the Republican Party – an effort designed to counter conservatives who point to this month’s triumphant election as proof that the shutdown did little damage.”

  13. rikyrah says:

    What a difference a year makes for the ACA
    11/17/14 08:00 AM—UPDATED 11/17/14 08:18 AM
    By Steve Benen

    About a year ago at this time, the biggest political story in the nation was about, of all things, a website. The Affordable Care Act’s was supposed to be accessible to consumers, but to the delight of the law’s conservative opponents, the site struggled badly for its first two months.

    Republicans were gleeful. The media was transfixed. Pundits speculated that the website’s troubles represented “Obama’s Katrina” and threatened the future of progressive governance in America.

    Of course, we now know that the problems were temporary; the website was fixed; and “Obamacare” enrollments exceeded all projections, succeeding in ways GOP lawmakers and their allies found horribly disappointing.

    And as the new open-enrollment period gets underway, Republicans are being confronted with even more discouraging news: the system is working pretty well so far.
    On the first day of enrollment for 2015 Obamacare plans, the federal insurance website was working well enough that 100,000 people submitted applications, U.S. health secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell reported.

    It was a dramatic turnabout from 2013, when collapsed on its first day of business, costing Burwell’s predecessor her job. More than 500,000 visitors logged on to the site yesterday, Burwell said today on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

    The federal enrollment system opened at about 1:30 a.m. New York time [Saturday], and U.S. health officials reported no technical problems in the first 24 hours.

  14. rikyrah says:


    Had to break out the Eskimo coat this morning :(

  15. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

  16. Ametia says:

    Doctor with Md. connection dies from Ebola
    Martin Salia, who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Sierra Leone and whose wife and children live in New Carrollton, Md., died Monday in Omaha, according to the hospital.

    Salia, who was flown to the Nebraska Medical Center on Saturday in critical condition, is the second reported person to die from the virus in the U.S.

  17. Ametia says:

    WHITNEY, Yes!

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