Born into a musical family on August 9, 1963, in Newark, New Jersey, Whitney's success might've been foretold. Her legendary heritage is as familiar as America's greatest icons: the daughter of famed singer Cissy Houston (who made her name in the Drinkards gospel quartet and later the Sweet Inspirations vocal group of Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley renown) and the cousin of singers Dee Dee Warwick (who introduced the original '60s versions of "You're No Good" and "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me") and her sister, superstar Dionne Warwick. Whitney's mother and cousins nurtured her passion for gospel music since birth. As a teenager, Whitney was already singing on the scene in New York, and records of her first young performances in the '70s and early '80s include such eclectic acts as Michael Zager, Chaka Khan, Herbie Mann, the Neville Brothers, Bill Laswell's Material and others and are much sought-after collector's items.
In 1983, near the end of Arista's first mega-successful decade of operation, Clive Davis was taken to a New York nightclub where Whitney was performing and signed her on the spot. Two years went into the making of her debut album, but the results were worth it. The self-titled Whitney Houston (March 1985) launched Arista's second decade and yielded a string of hits including "You Give Good Love" and three consecutive number one singles, the Grammy-winning "Saving All My Love for You," "How Will I Know" and "The Greatest Love of All," which has become a veritable anthem. Not only did the album establish her as an important new recording artist, but it went on to sell more than 12 million copies in the United States, plus many millions more abroad. This LP set the record as the biggest-selling debut album by a solo artist.