10 Videos Spanning the Career of Whitney Houston

Vocal legend Whitney Houston died yesterday at the Beverly Hilton. She was 48. Here are ten videos that encompass her life.

© SVEN SIMON/dpa/Corbis

Whitney was born music royalty. Her mother, Cissy, is a Grammy winner in her own right and sang backup for Elvis Presley. Her cousins included Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick and her godmother was Aretha Franklin. So it should be no surprise that Whitney was offered a recording contract at just 14, but her mother wanted her to grow up a little first. So she went into modeling, becoming the first African-American to grace to cover of Seventeen Magazine. She also pursued acting.

First TV Appearance

Whitney starred in a few commercials, but her first real role was in the TV series Gimme a Break in 1984, playing a girl named Rita who is hoping to set up a business with one of the main characters.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z7Dfqgo0GM

First Single

While her first solo single from her debut album peaked at number three, it was the start of an astonishingly successful career. Her next seven singles would chart at #1, a record that not even The Beatles, Mariah Carey, or Michael Jackson matched, and one that has stood for 24 years and counting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdBgzN1yFMk

Nelson Mandela Freedom Concert Performance

Whitney was a vocal supporter of the anti-apartheid movement. Even as a teen model she had refused to work with any agency that supported the practice by doing business with South Africa. In 1988 she performed at Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday charity concert in London. Whitney’s star power helped bring attention to his plight and that of all South African blacks. After apartheid ended two years later and Mandela was released, Whitney would travel to Johannesburg and meet him, as well as perform for him at a White House banquet in 1994.

Note: Whitney duets with her mom in this video, and it shows you where she got her talent from.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9i-HmNJq0U

Star Spangled Banner

Whitney was at the top of her game in 1991 when she performed the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. America was embroiled in the first Gulf War, and her note-perfect rendition (okay, she was lip-synching, but who cares) was a fitting and memorable tribute to the men and women in uniform.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS4v431Mlak

Whitney said of her performance: "If you were there, you could feel the intensity. You know, we were in the Gulf War at the time. It was an intense time for a country. A lot of our daughters and sons were overseas fighting. I could see, in the stadium, I could see the fear, the hope, the intensity, the prayers going up, you know, and I just felt like this is the moment. And it was hope, we needed hope, you know, to bring our babies home and that's what it was about for me, that what I felt when I sang that song, and the overwhelming love coming out of the stands was incredible."

"I Will Always Love You"

Well, you knew this would be on here, didn’t you? One of Whitney’s many talents was to take lesser known songs by other artists and make huge hits out of them. Dolly Parton’s "I Will Always Love You" was not only the best example of this, but the defining song of an amazing career. It won every single major award it was nominated for including two Grammys, and was the first record ever to sell one million copies in the first week of its release, and set a (since broken) record of 14 weeks at #1.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd6VQpe6e5I

Waiting to Exhale Trailer

While Whitney basically played a version of herself in The Bodyguard, three years later she took on a more difficult role, and stood her ground among acting talent like Angela Bassett and Gregory Hines, in 1995’s Waiting to Exhale. She was nominated for an Image Award for her performance, and her theme song "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" was nominated for four Grammys.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRfGuR0k2kk

Crack is Whack

While Whitney continued to put out successful albums, her behavior became more erratic and worrying. By the time she sat down for an interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002, rumors were swirling about her drug and alcohol use. She tried to reassure the public that there was no truth to the accusations, but her pronouncement that “crack is whack” just served to highlight her problems.

Sparkle Interview

Whitney did eventually enter rehab and embarked on the ups and unfortunately the downs that are so often a part of recovery. Recently though, it did appear that maybe her life was turning back around for the better. In this Entertainment Tonight interview from just three months ago, she seems happy and healthy while discussing her return to the big screen in a remake of Sparkle. Despite its camp-sounding title, the movie addresses young stars struggling with addiction. Reports indicate the movie will be released later this year as originally planned.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zj4srh4dx84

Last Performance

Just two nights before she died Whitney attended a pre-Grammy party where she took the stage for an impromptu performance. She was obviously not well, but the vocal talent that defined her still shone through.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_abxJNPzZZY

"I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)"

Hopefully Whitney will be remembered for her voice and her string of record breaking hits rather than her tumultuous life. Smack dab in the middle of her run of seven consecutive number ones was an upbeat dance song that proved she could do more than ballads. Let’s remember her like this, with her crazy 80s hair, high energy, and, as always, her amazing voice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eH3giaIzONA

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These Sparrows Have Been Singing the Same Songs for 1500 Years
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iStock

Swamp sparrows are creatures of habit—so much so that they’ve been chirping out the same few tunes for more than 1500 years, Science magazine reports.

These findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, resulted from an analysis of the songs of 615 adult male swamp sparrows found in six different areas of the northeastern U.S. Researchers learned that young swamp sparrows pick up these songs from the adults around them and are able to mimic the notes with astounding accuracy.

Here’s what one of their songs sounds like:

“We were able to show that swamp sparrows very rarely make mistakes when they learn their songs, and they don't just learn songs at random; they pick up commoner songs rather than rarer songs,” Robert Lachlan, a biologist at London’s Queen Mary University and the study’s lead author, tells National Geographic.

Put differently, the birds don’t mimic every song their elders crank out. Instead, they memorize the ones they hear most often, and scientists say this form of “conformist bias” was previously thought to be a uniquely human behavior.

Using acoustic analysis software, researchers broke down each individual note of the sparrows’ songs—160 different syllables in total—and discovered that only 2 percent of sparrows deviated from the norm. They then used a statistical method to determine how the songs would have evolved over time. With recordings from 2009 and the 1970s, they were able to estimate that the oldest swamp sparrow songs date back 1537 years on average.

The swamp sparrow’s dedication to accuracy sets the species apart from other songbirds, according to researchers. “Among songbirds, it is clear that some species of birds learn precisely, such as swamp sparrows, while others rarely learn all parts of a demonstrator’s song precisely,” they write.

According to the Audubon Guide to North American Birds, swamp sparrows are similar to other sparrows, like the Lincoln’s sparrow, song sparrow, and chipping sparrow. They’re frequently found in marshes throughout the Northeast and Midwest, as well as much of Canada. They’re known for their piercing call notes and may respond to birders who make loud squeaking sounds in their habitat.

[h/t Science magazine]

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18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
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iStock

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

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