..The year 2000, and the long-awaited release of WHITNEY THE GREATEST HITS commemorates the 15th anniversary year of Arista Records’ all-time best-selling artist, Whitney Houston. Her status was reaffirmed when the “Soul Train” Music Awards named her the Female Artist Of the Decade at their annual ceremonies in March. It was 15 years ago when “You Give Good Love” entered the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart on March 9, 1985, eventually going to #1 and hitting RIAA Gold. The self-titled Whitney Houston album entered the Top 200 (pop) album chart on March 30th, went to #1 for 14 weeks, and now stands at 13-times Platinum. Today, with combined sales in the U.S. of 75 million records and home videos, and total worldwide sales of nearly 140 million units, Whitney’s position as one of pop music’s most successful figures is unchallenged.
………..The timing couldn’t be better for the release of WHITNEY THE GREATEST HITS, a definitive collection that boasts newly-recorded material with Enrique Iglesias, George Michael, fellow Arista artist Deborah Cox, and Q-Tip. This multimedia series comprises three separate releases that encompass Whitney’s success as a mainstay on the pop and R&B singles front (with two CDs/cassettes), in the clubs as a remixer’s delight (with a limited edition four-record vinyl box-set), and as a screen presence since she began her career at the label (on VHS home-video and interactive DVD).
………..The double-CD/cassette version of WHITNEY THE GREATEST HITS is a 36-track collection that comprises one volume of single hits (Cool Down) and another volume of memorable club mixes (Throw Down), both spanning her entire career to date. Newly-recorded for the occasion are duets with Enrique Iglesias (the Diane Warren composition, “Could I Have This Kiss Forever”) and Arista label-mate Deborah Cox (“Same Script, Different Cast”), plus a new version of “If I Told You That” (from My Love Is Your Love) that was reconfigured by producer Rodney Jerkins as a duet with George Michael.
………..Spanning 1985 to 2000, WHITNEY THE GREATEST HITS also includes hard-to-find rarities such as “One Moment In Time,” the 1988 Summer Olympics theme; 1991’s Super Bowl XXV version of “The Star Spangled Banner”; and a 1986 duet with Jermaine Jackson (“If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful”) that was only released on his second Arista album, Precious Moments, never as a single.
………..The two CDs (and cassettes) are programmed so that each volume displays the full range of Whitney’s career. Disc 1 (Cool Down), for example, builds from her first hits of 1985, “You Give Good Love,” “Saving All My Love For You,” and “Greatest Love Of All,” all the way to the year 2000. Disc 2 (Throw Down) recaps the hits from My Love Is Your Love with club remixes of “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay,” “My Love Is Your Love,” “Heartbreak Hotel” (featuring Faith Evans & Kelly Price), and “I Learned From The Best” then presents remixes of ten more hits from Whitney’s repertoire. The remixes show off the talents of such masters as Junior Vasquez, David Morales, Jellybean, Hex Hector, C+C Music Factory’s Clivilles and Cole, and others.
………..These remixers are showcased on WHITNEY THE UNRELEASED MIXES, a special limited-edition four-record vinyl box-set that acknowledges the importance of her music in clubs around the world. There are seven songs, eight mixes, one track on each side of four 12-inch vinyl discs comprising “How Will I Know,” “Greatest Love Of All,” “I’m Every Woman,” “Love Will Save the Day,” “I Will Always Love You,” “So Emotional,” and “I’m Your Baby Tonight.”
………..WHITNEY THE GREATEST HITS is also the title of Whitney’s first DVD and VHS home-video collection. Each version reprises the lion’s share of Whitney’s hits in the course of its 19 titles, a combination of video clips (with such noted directors as Wayne Isham, Peter Israelson, Julien Temple, Randee St. Nicholas, Brian Grant, and Kevin Bray), and live performances. On the digital side, the DVD (with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Audio) utilizes interactive technology to provide song lyrics and cutting-edge multi-media content. The main menu provides links to such rarities as the star’s premiere television performance (on “The Merv Griffin Show” in 1985), appearances on several awards shows, a tune from Disney’s Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1997), interview segments featuring Whitney and her co-producer, Arista president Clive Davis, and much more.
………..The audio volumes of GREATEST HITS draw from Whitney’s first three studio albums, Whitney Houston (1985, now certified 13-times RIAA Platinum), Whitney (1987, 4x-Platinum), and I’m Your Baby Tonight (1990, 4x-Platinum); then Whitney’s three original soundtrack albums, The Bodyguard (1992, 17x-Platinum), Waiting To Exhale (1995, 7x-Platinum), and The Preacher’s Wife (1996, 3x-Platinum), and her most recent My Love Is Your Love (1998, 3x-Platinum). Whitney’s U.S. album sales currently total nearly 60 million copies. Add to this figure: 12 RIAA Gold and 5 Platinum singles, the 4-times Platinum “I Will Always Love You” single, one Gold home video and two Platinum home videos and the total is 75 million units sold in the U.S. alone. In territories outside the U.S., Whitney has sold more than 50 million albums and more than 10 million singles.
………..As the millennium begins, GREATEST HITS pays homage to a gifted artist whose musical breadth knows no boundaries. Singing to audiences on every continent, Whitney Houston has won her worldwide following the old-fashioned way, digging deep down into her soul and finding common threads with her millions of fans.
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Whitney Houston On Record
Whitney was signed to Arista Records by Clive Davis in 1983. Her self-titled debut album, Whitney Houston, released in 1985, yielded a string of hits including “You Give Good Love” and three consecutive #1 singles, “Saving All My Love For You,” “How Will I Know,” and a song that has become a veritable anthem, “The Greatest Love of All.” Not only did the album establish her as an important new recording artist, but it went on to sell over 13 million copies in the U.S., plus several million abroad. This LP set the record as the biggest selling debut album by a solo artist.
With the highly anticipated release of her second album Whitney in 1987, she made history as the first female artist to enter the Billboard album charts at #1. Whitney featured a new stream of #1 chart-toppers, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” “So Emotional,” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” this established Whitney as the only artist ever to have seven consecutive #1 hits, surpassing a record previously set by The Beatles and The Bee Gees.
I’m Your Baby Tonight
Whitney’s third powerhouse solo album I’m Your Baby Tonight, released in 1990, displayed her versatility on a new collection of tough rhythmic grooves, soulful ballads and up-tempo dance tracks. With back-to-back #1 hits for the title tune and “All the Man That I Need,” followed by “Miracle” and “My Name Is Not Susan,” sales records were set once again, as the album became an international multi-Platinum best-seller, to the tune of 8 million copies worldwide.
My Love Is Your Love
Whitney’s fourth studio album My Love Is Your Love, which she produced with Clive Davis, was released in November 1998, and is certified RIAA triple-Platinum in the U.S., with global sales in excess of 9 million units. It was actually Whitney’s seventh career album, coming after the 8-year period that brought the original motion picture soundtrack albums for The Bodyguard, Waiting To Exhale, and The Preacher’s Wife. My Love Is Your Love found Whitney collaborating with some of pop and R&B’s hottest producers.
The result was a string of solid crossover hits: the two-time Grammy-nominated “Heartbreak Hotel” (featuring Faith Evans and Kelly Price, co-written and produced by the team of Soulshock and Karlin); the Grammy-winning “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” (co-written and produced by Rodney Jerkins); “When You Believe” (a duet with Mariah Carey, from The Prince Of Egypt, written by Stephen Schwartz and produced by Babyface); the title tune “My Love Is Your Love” (written and produced by Wyclef Jean and Jerry “Wonder” Duplessis); and the final hit, “I Learned From the Best” (written by Diane Warren, produced and arranged by David Foster), released in early 2000.
The success of My Love Is Your Love underscored a phenomenal year for Whitney. In April 1999, with worldwide sales of the album surpassing 5 million units, Whitney stole the show at VH1’s second annual “Divas Live/’99,” with a performance characterized Jon Pareles in the New York Times as “invincible.” Sharing the stage with a lineup that included Cher, Tina Turner, Mary. J Blige and others, Whitney emerged as the star. “Ms. Houston recognized no obstacles,” the journalist wrote. “[She] reclaimed ‘I Will Always Love You’ as a song of longing and delicacy, making its virtuoso flourishes seem heartfelt.” VH1 announced that the show was the highest-rated telecast in its history.
Meanwhile, Gold, Platinum and multi-Platinum certifications poured in from every corner of the globe: Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Spain, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore and more. In late-June, with “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” climbing to become the 17th top 5 pop hit of her career, Whitney commenced her enormously successful world tour playing 16 cities in North America. The tour concluded in Europe in November.
The 42nd annual Grammy awards, which took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 23, 2000, marked some 15 months since the release of My Love Is Your Love. Whitney was on-hand to receive the sixth Grammy award of her career, as “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” took the honors for Best Female R&B Vocal. Winning her first R&B Grammy award in a category that included Mary J. Blige, Brandy, Faith Evans, and Macy Gray was extremely gratifying for Whitney Houston, especially after three previous Grammy awards for Best Female Pop Vocal: in 1985 (“Saving All My Love For You”), 1987 (“I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)”), and 1993 (“I Will Always Love You,” which also won Record Of the Year).
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Whitney Houston On-Screen
Whitney’s first film, The Bodyguard, in which she co-starred with Oscar-winning actor/director Kevin Costner in 1992, not only broke box office records worldwide but was ultimately responsible for the biggest selling motion picture soundtrack album of all time. Featuring six Whitney Houston songs, The Bodyguard is certified 17-times Platinum in the U.S. and has sold more than 37 million copies around the world. “I Will Always Love You,” the first single from the album, became the largest selling commercial single in history (a 4-million seller in the U.S. alone), while three other singles from the album, “I’m Every Woman,” “I Have Nothing,” and “Run To You,” were also major international hits for Whitney.
Waiting To Exhale
Whitney’s next movie, Waiting To Exhale, was released in December 1995. This critically acclaimed film, in which she starred with Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Lela Rochon, went on to gross over 70 million dollars at the box office. The soundtrack for Waiting To Exhale was co-produced by Houston and featured three new tracks from Whitney: “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)”; “Count On Me” (a duet with CeCe Winans), co-written by Whitney and Babyface; and “Why Does It Hurt So Bad.” The album quickly hit #1 and has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide to date.
The Preacher’s Wife
Whitney’s lifelong dream of creating a pop/gospel album was realized in November 1996, when Arista released the original motion picture soundtrack album for The Preacher’s Wife, the biggest selling gospel album in Billboard chart history. Nurtured by her mother, R&B/gospel star Cissy Houston (an original member of the Sweet Inspirations) and her legendary cousin Dionne Warwick, Whitney’s passion for gospel music has been there since birth. Her collaboration with an extraordinary roster of producers and artists resulted in one of the most unique albums to date. Whitney sang lead vocals on 14 of the album’s 15 tracks, including the beautiful first single “I Believe In You And Me,” “Step By Step” (written by Annie Lennox), and two songs produced by Grammy award-winner Babyface. In addition, Cissy Houston sang solo on a special track, “The Lord Is My Shepherd,” in which she turned the familiar 23rd Psalm into a spiritually touching song by adding music to the standard prayer. The gospel-driven tracks on the album were co-produced by Whitney and Grammy/Dove award winner Mervyn Warren (Sister Act I and Sister Act II). Other luminaries on the album included Shirley Caesar and the Georgia Mass Choir.
The motion picture The Preacher’s Wife, starring Whitney Houston , Denzel Washington and Courtney B. Vance, was released in the U.S. by Buena Vista on December 13, 1996. The Preacher’s Wife, directed by Penny Marshall, is based on the 1947 classic, The Bishop’s Wife, which starred Cary Grant and Loretta Young.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
“The Wonderful World of Disney” production of the musical “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” which originally aired on November 2, 1997, added the medium of made-for-television movies to Whitney’s long list of accomplishments. The ABC network special featured Whitney as The Fairy Godmother, Brandy as Cinderella and Whoopi Goldberg as The Queen, along with an all-star multi-cultural cast. The program attracted a U.S. audience of more than 60 million viewers, and gave the network its best Sunday night rating in over a decade. Whitney and her company, BrownHouse Productions, served as executive producers on the project, which went on to garner seven Emmy nominations including Outstanding Variety, Musical or Comedy Special. The special won an Emmy for Outstanding Art Direction in a Variety, Musical or Comedy Special. The home video version shattered previous records to become the best-selling video ever of a made-for-television movie.
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Whitney Houston’s Accomplishments
Whitney Houston’s career has resulted in many international awards. She achieved her first of six career Grammy awards for “Saving All My Love For You” (from her self-titled debut album), which won the Best Female Pop Vocal award for 1985, an award Whitney duplicated two years later for “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me).” At the 1993 Grammy awards, The Bodyguard won Album Of the Year while “I Will Always Love You” netted Record Of the Year and Whitney’s third Best Female Pop Vocal award. Whitney took home her sixth career Grammy, and her first R&B award, at the 42nd annual Grammy ceremonies on February 23, 2000, when “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” won for Best Female R&B Vocal.
She has earned an impressive list of entertainment industry awards also includes 21 American Music Awards (the most for any female recording artist), 15 Billboard Music Awards, 11 NAACP Image Awards, six People’s Choice Awards, seven “Soul Train” Music Awards, five World Music Awards, two Emmy Awards, the MTV Music Video award and MTV Movie Award, a Cable ACE Award, the Dove (Gospel Music Association) Award, the Blockbuster Entertainment Award, and the Nickelodeon Kids Choice award. In November 1995, Whitney was inducted into the “Soul Train” Hall of Fame. In 1996, she was inducted into the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Hall of Fame and BET (Black Entertainment Television) Walk of Fame. In February 1998, “Soul Train” bestowed its prestigious Quincy Jones Career Achievement Award upon Whitney; and in March 2000, she was honored with the “Soul Train” Music Award as Female Artist Of the Decade.
In 1989, Whitney formed The Whitney Houston Foundation For Children, Inc. This non-profit organization is comprised of a five point program, issuing annual grants in the areas of a risk, health, education, sports and the arts. The foundation grants a $10,000,00 scholarship every year to a deserving minority student to attend New York’s famed Julliard School of Music.
The foundation has also raised funds for the needs of children around the world. A portion of the proceeds from Whitney’s 1994 solout tour of South African were donated to various children’s charities in that country. Proceeds from Whitney’s recording of “The Star Spangled Banner” were donated to The American Red Cross for families who were victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. Whitney has hosted numerous events including a 1997 concert televised on HBO from Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. which raised over $300,000.00 for the Children’s Defense Fund.
Every holiday season, The Foundation hosts a Christmas party for the homeless children of Newark, New Jersey. This past December, to help celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the foundation, Whitney assembled an all-star celebrity choir to entertain the children. Friends such as Faith Evans, Naughty By Nature, Luther Vandross, Russell Simmons and Angie Stone joined Whitney and her mother, Cissy Houston, in singing Christmas carols.
Additionally, Whitney has supported many national benefit organizations and worthwhile causes including The United Negro College Fund, the Children’s Diabetes Fund, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and several noted AIDS-related organizations, many of which have recognized her efforts with awards. Among the humanitarian awards she has been given are The Frederick D. Patterson Award from the United Negro College Fund, and both the Brass Ring Award and the High Hopes Award from The Children’s Diabetes Foundation.