In Memory: The Top 10 Best Whitney Moments
As the world still reels over the sudden passing of Whitney Houston, countless media reports continue to remember, analyze and speculate over her storied career and untimely death. But no matter the yet-to-be-disclosed circumstances surrounding the situation and endless tabloid-like hoopla, no one can detract from the truth that the world lost one of the most beautiful voices of all time. While it’s certainly sad for longtime fans and onlookers alike to see her demise, the one-time church choir singer turned international superstar’s music and humanitarian efforts will be her ultimate legacy.
Though it’s impossible to summarize her career (170 million albums sold) into a mere handful of sound bites, here’s a flashback to ten of Houston’s best moments – both on and off the stage.
1. “I Will Always Love You” in The Bodyguard
Though her hit parade was virtually endless throughout the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s, Houston will always be best known for her cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” Aside from being one of the most beautiful ballads in history (regardless of genre), it was also the centerpiece for her debut movie The Bodyguard (where she starred alongside Kevin Costner). The tear-jerking film’s soundtrack garnered GRAMMY Awards for “Record of the Year” and “Best Female Pop Vocal Performance,” while topping Billboard’s “Hot 100 Single” and “Hot R&B Single” charts in 1993.
2. “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl XXV Watch Clip
Running a very close second was the soul siren’s spine-chilling rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” in 1991 at Super Bowl XXV. Besides blowing a worldwide audience out of their seats with her pitch-perfect rendition, it became the only commercially released single of the anthem to land in the top 20. Houston donated all proceeds to the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund.
3. “Greatest Love of All” at the GRAMMY Awards Watch Clip
She may have been a relative newcomer in 1987, but Houston stole the show at that year’s GRAMMY Awards with a jaw-dropping rendition of the inspirational classic “Greatest Love of All.” After elegantly descending a staircase, she belted out each crystalline note to the heavens, earning a standing ovation from the industry’s most elite, and also connecting with audiences the world over with a message of overcoming adversity.
4. The Oprah Winfrey interview
She may have laid low for much of the 2000s, but after appearing on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Whitney’s comeback was well under way. Billed as “the most anticipated music interview of the decade,” it updated viewers on her tumultuous personal life, including a failed marriage to fellow singer Bobby Brown and her drug abuse. As much of a contrast as the interview was with the squeaky-clean persona of her past, Houston assured audiences she reclaimed her faith and was well on the road to recovery.
5. “One Moment In Time” from the 1988 Summer Olympics
One of Houston’s happier moments was cheering on the athletes competing in the 1988 Summer Olympics via the glorious battle cry “One Moment In Time.” Her sterling delivery was merged with one of the most memorable montages of the time during NBC’s coverage, which sparked additional performances during the 1989 GRAMMY Awards and even Sammy Davis Jr.’s “60th Anniversary Celebration” television special.
6. Welcome Home Heroes concert on HBO Watch Clip
Inspired by her aforementioned performance of the National Anthem, Houston set HBO on fire with 1991’s televised concert performing for the troops at the Naval Air Station in Norfolk, Va. Not only did she dedicate a set list that included “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” to those who served in the Gulf War, she interacted with members of the military throughout the show, which is chronicled on the DVD edition “A Song For You.”
7. Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday Tribute
In keeping with her humanitarian side, Houston was on hand to perform for the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert in 1988. The event took place in London but was broadcast to more than a billion – that’s right – a billion viewers, who enjoyed Houston’s touching tracks like “Love Will Save the Day” and “I Believe” in the spirit of putting an end to apartheid.
8. “When You Believe” with Mariah Carey at The Academy Awards
Though Whitney’s collaborated with other artists on numerous occasions (Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick and Jermaine Jackson to name a few), one of her most celebrated duets came alongside fellow diva Mariah Carey. The soulful pair turned “When You Believe” from the blockbuster movie The Prince of Egypt and performed it at the Academy Awards in 1999, where it took home a statue for “Best Original Song.”
9. “I Go to the Rock” at the Dove Awards
Another film that featured Whitney’s music (and face) was The Preacher’s Wife in 1996, which co-starred Denzel Washington. The soundtrack took the superstar back to her church roots and even inspired a 1998 appearance at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards, complete with a throw down praise jam on Dottie Rambo’s “I Go to the Rock.”
10. “I Look to You” during BET’s “Celebration of Gospel”
One of Houston’s last major public appearances came at the tip of 2011 where she performed alongside gospel great Kim Burrell during BET’s “Celebration of Gospel.” The show-stopping performance of “I Look to You” suggested Whitney was once again nearing the top of her game, but perhaps even more poignant were the lyrics from that comeback single that she lifted up to the Lord: “And when all my strength is gone/In you I can be strong/I look to you.”
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of “Access Matthews” (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who and Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution).