Whitney Elizabeth Houston (born August 9, 1963) is an American R&B/pop singer, actress, and former fashion model. Houston is the most awarded female artist of all time, according to Guinness World Records, and her list of awards include 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010. Houston is also one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 170 million albums and singles worldwide.
Inspired by several prominent soul singers in her extended family, including her mother Cissy Houston, cousins Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick, and Godmother Aretha Franklin, Houston began singing at her New Jersey church as a member of a junior gospel choir at age eleven. After she began performing alongside her mother in night clubs in the New York City area, she was discovered by Arista Records label head Clive Davis. Houston has released six studio albums and three movie soundtrack albums throughout her career, all of which have had diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold certification.
Houston released her debut album Whitney Houston in 1985, which became the best-selling debut album by a female act at the time of its release. Her second studio album Whitney (1987) became the first album by a female artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Houston's crossover appeal on the popular music charts as well as her prominence on MTV, starting with her award-winning video for "How Will I Know", enabled several African-American female artists to follow in her success.