Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American singer and actress. In 2009, Guinness World Records cited her as the most awarded female act of all time. Houston is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with 200 million records sold worldwide. She 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). 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""influenced several African-American women artists who followed in her footsteps.
Houston is the only artist to have seven consecutive number one Billboard Hot 100 songs. Her self-titled debut album (1985) became the best-selling debut album by a woman in history. Rolling Stone named it the best album of 1986, and one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Her second studio album, Whitney (1987), became the first album by a woman to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
Houston made her screen acting debut as Rachel Marron in the romantic thriller film The Bodyguard (1992). She performed the lead single from the film's original soundtrack, "I Will Always Love You", which received the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and became the best-selling single by a woman in music history. The soundtrack received the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1994, making Houston the first act to sell more than a million copies of an album within a single week period under Nielsen SoundScan system. The album also makes her the top female act in the top 10 list of the best-selling albums of all time, at number four. Houston made other high-profile film appearances, including Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher's Wife (1996), and contributed to their soundtracks; the Preacher Wife soundtrack became the best-selling gospel album in history.
On February 11, 2012, Houston was found dead in her guest room 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 featured prominently in international media.
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