Arguably among the greatest performing artists of her generation, Whitney Houston was a bona fide music legend. She enjoyed soaring success in the business and left behind an incredible legacy of material. But away from all that, she battled with some serious demons in her personal life before her tragic passing in 2012. Here, we take a closer look at Houston’s extraordinary life and career through a collection of rarely seen photographs.
1. High-school years
Born in August 1963 Houston spent her formative years alongside her parents John Russell Jr. and Emily “Cissy” Houston in New Jersey. Looking at this early snap, she seemed just like any other youngster making her way through high school.
But that wasn’t the case. While her mom made it clear that she should be focusing solely on her studies, the future star already had a lot of other ambitions running through her mind.
2. Making it as a model
Yes, Houston had caught the attention of the modeling world following a chance encounter with an agent when she was a teen. And in 1981 she went on to adorn the cover of Seventeen Magazine.
Very few girls of color had managed to do that prior to Houston. Plus, she also popped up in the likes of Glamour and Cosmopolitan during that spell, too. This photo was snapped at a fashion event in 1982.
3. Drawn to music
Yet while it seemed as though Houston would have had a promising future as a model, she had a firm interest in music as well. And that shouldn’t have been too surprising.
After all, her mom was a Grammy-winning gospel artist who’d worked with the likes of Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix. In addition to that, Houston’s godmother was Darlene Love and Aretha Franklin became her “honorary aunt.”
4. A God-given talent
By the time she turned five, Houston was already showcasing her voice, as she joined her mom on stage at New Hope Baptist Church. Then, as an 11-year-old, she began belting out solos, much to the delight of the churchgoers.
Reflecting on that time later on, Houston had this to say in a chat with Diane Sawyer. She noted, “I think I knew then that [my singing ability] was an infectious thing that God had given me.”