Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American singer and actress. She was cited as the most awarded female artist of all time by Guinness World Records and remains one of the best-selling music artists of all time with 200 million records sold 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, starting with her video for “How Will I Know“—influenced several African-American women artists who followed in her footsteps.
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 the age of 19. Her first two studio albums, Whitney Houston (1985) and Whitney (1987), both reached number one on the Billboard 200 in the United States, and to-date are the biggest-selling first two albums released of any artist in history. To this day, 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.