Whitney Houston broke more industry records than any other female singer in history. With over 200 million album sales worldwide, she was the only artist to chart seven consecutive U.S. Number 1 sales. She also starred in several blockbuster movies before her brilliant career gave way to erratic behaviour, scandals and death at age 48. A new documentary feature WHITNEY is an intimate portrait of Houston and her family that probes beyond familiar tabloid headlines and sheds a new light on the spellbinding trajectory of Houston’s life.
Using never before seen archival footage, exclusive demo recordings, rare performances, audio archives and original interviews with people who new her best, Oscar winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland, Marley, State of Play) unravels the mystery of the singer who thrilled millions even as she struggled to make peace with her own troubled past.
The documentary will open in North American theatres this July.
Houston first began singing in public at the age of 11 at the Newark’s New Hope Baptist Church. Her mother, Cissy was also a singer however, she never reached the heights she had hoped for as a solo artist, demanding perfection from the young Whitney as she coached her for musical stardom.
After her parents divorced, Houston left home to pursue a modelling career in New York City. But it was Arista Records president Clive Davis who took note of her singing and signed Houston at 19 years old and her first album was released when she was 22 years old.
In 1985 she released her first hit, “Saving All My Love For You”. Houston scored six more consecutive number 1 singles, seven Grammy Awards, and a starring role in the The Bodyguard, which featured her smash-hit ballad “I Will Always Love You.”
In this documentary, director Keven Macdonald spoke with over 70 people about Houston’s personal and professional life. Participants include Ellen White, a family friend known as “Aunt Bae,” who raised Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina. Houston’s long time personal assistant Mary Jones, and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, ex-boyfriends bodyguards and record company executives. – typically most filmmakers speak with 15-20 people.
“…Whitney Houston herself tended to give so little away in her own interviews, we had to use a multiplicity of voices,” said Macdonald.
But it was the interviews with members of the family that are the most illuminating. Her older brothers Michael and Gary openly discuss the drug use that surrounded the singer most of her career. They also talked about her pivotal childhood experiences.
The film also includes a brief interview with Houston’s ex-husband, singer Bobby Brown.
“This is a family with a lot of secrets,” said Macdonald.