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10 Videos Spanning the Career of Whitney Houston

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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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15 Must-Watch Facts About The Ring
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DreamWorks

An urban legend about a videotape that kills its viewers seven days after they see it turns out to be true. To her increasing horror, reporter Rachel Keller (then-newcomer Naomi Watts) discovers this after her niece is one of four teenage victims, and is in a race against the clock to uncover the mystery behind the girl in the video before her and her son’s time is up.

Released 15 years ago, on October 18, 2002, The Ring began a trend of both remaking Japanese horror films in a big way, and giving you nightmares about creepy creatures crawling out of your television. Here are some facts about the film that you can feel free to pass along to anybody, guilt-free.

1. DREAMWORKS BOUGHT THE AMERICAN RIGHTS TO RINGU FOR $1 MILLION.

There were conflicting stories over how executive producer Roy Lee came to see the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu, Hideo Nakata's adaptation of the 1991 novel Ring by Kôji Suzuki. Lee said two different friends gave him a copy of Ringu in January 2001, which he loved and immediately gave to DreamWorks executive Mark Sourian, who agreed to purchase the rights. But Lee’s close friend Mike Macari worked at Fine Line Features, which had an American remake of Ringu in development before January 2001. Macari said he showed Lee Ringu much earlier. Macari and Lee were both listed as executive producers for The Ring.

2. THE DIRECTOR FIRST SAW RINGU ON A POOR QUALITY VHS TAPE, WHICH ADDED TO ITS CREEPINESS.

Gore Verbinski had previously directed MouseHunt. He said the first time he "watched the original Ringu was on a VHS tape that was probably seven generations down. It was really poor quality, but actually that added to the mystique, especially when I realized that this was a movie about a videotape." Naomi Watts struggled to find a VHS copy of Ringu while shooting in the south of Wales. When she finally got a hold of one she watched it on a very small TV alone in her hotel room. "I remember being pretty freaked out," Watts said. "I just saw it the once, and that was enough to get me excited about doing it."

3. THE RING AND RINGU ARE ABOUT 50 PERCENT DIFFERENT.

Naomi Watts in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

Verbinski estimated that, for the American version, they "changed up to 50 percent of it. The basic premise is intact, the story is intact, the ghost story, the story of Samara, the child." Storylines involving the characters having ESP, a volcano, “dream logic,” and references to “brine and goblins” were taken out.

4. IT RAINED ALMOST EVERY DAY WHEN THEY FILMED IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON.

The weather added to the “atmosphere of dread,” according to the film's production notes. Verbinski said the setting allowed them to create an “overcast mood” of dampness and isolation.

5. THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER WAS INFLUENCED BY ANDREW WYETH.

Artist Andrew Wyeth tended to use muted, somber earth tones in his work. "In Wyeth's work, the trees are always dormant, and the colors are muted earth tones," explained production designer Tom Duffield. "It's greys, it's browns, it's somber colors; it's ripped fabrics in the windows. His work has a haunting flavor that I felt would add to the mystique of this movie, so I latched on to it."

6. THERE WERE RINGS EVERYWHERE.

The carpeting and wallpaper patterns, the circular kitchen knobs, the doctor’s sweater design, Rachel’s apartment number, and more were purposely designed with the film's title in mind.

7. WATTS AND MARTIN HENDERSON HAD A FRIENDLY INTERNATIONAL RIVALRY.

Martin Henderson and Naomi Watts star in 'The Ring' (1992)
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

The New Zealand-born Henderson played Noah, Rachel’s ex-husband. Since Watts is from Australia, Henderson said that, "Between takes, we'd joke around with each other's accents and play into the whole New Zealand-Australia rivalry."

8. THE TWO WEREN’T SURE IF THE MOVIE WAS GOING TO BE SCARY ENOUGH.

After shooting some of the scenes, and not having the benefit of seeing what they'd look like once any special effects were added, Henderson and Watts worried that the final result would not be scary enough. "There were moments when Naomi and I would look at each other and say, 'This is embarrassing, people are going to laugh,'" Henderson told the BBC." You just hope that somebody makes it scary or you're going to look like an idiot!"

9. CHRIS COOPER WAS CUT FROM THE MOVIE.

Cooper played a child murderer in two scenes which were initially meant to bookend the film. He unconvincingly claimed to Rachel that he found God in the beginning, and in the end she gave him the cursed tape. Audiences at test screenings were distracted that an actor they recognized disappears for most of the film, so he was cut out entirely.

10. THEY TRIED TO GET RID OF ALL OF THE SHADOWS.

Verbinski and cinematographer Bojan Bazelli used the lack of sunlight in Washington to remove the characters’ shadows. The two wanted to keep the characters feeling as if “they’re floating a little bit, in space.”

11. THE TREE WAS NICKNAMED "LUCILLE."

The red Japanese maple tree in the cursed video was named after the famous redheaded actress Lucille Ball. The tree was fake, built out of steel tubing and plaster. The Washington wind blew it over three different times. The night they put up the tree in Los Angeles, the wind blew at 60 miles per hour and knocked Lucille over yet again. "It was very strange," said Duffield.

12. MOESKO ISLAND IS A FUNCTIONING LIGHTHOUSE.

Moesko Island Lighthouse is Yaquina Head Lighthouse, at the mouth of the Yaquina River, a mile west of Agate Beach, Oregon. The website Rachel checks, MoeskoIslandLighthouse.com, used to actually exist as a one-page website, which gave general information on the fictional place. You can read it here.

13. A WEBSITE WAS CREATED BY DREAMWORKS TO PROMOTE THE MOVIE AND ADD TO ITS MYTHOLOGY.

Before and during the theatrical release, if you logged into AnOpenLetter.com, you could read a message in white lettering against a black background warning about what happens if you watch the cursed video (you can read it here). By November 24, 2002, it was a standard official website made for the movie, set up by DreamWorks.

14. VERBINSKI DIDN’T HAVE FUN DIRECTING THE MOVIE.

“It’s no fun making a horror film," admitted Verbinski. "You get into some darker areas of the brain and after a while everything becomes a bit depressing.”

15. DAVEIGH CHASE SCARED HERSELF.

Daveigh Chase in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

When Daveigh Chase, who played Samara, saw The Ring in theaters, she had to cover her eyes out of fear—of herself. Some people she met after the movie came out were also afraid of her.

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Afternoon Map
European Space Agency Releases First High-Res Land Cover Map of Africa
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Land Cover CCI, ESA

This isn’t just any image of Africa. It represents the first of its kind: a high-resolution map of the different types of land cover that are found on the continent, released by The European Space Agency, as Travel + Leisure reports.

Land cover maps depict the different physical materials that cover the Earth, whether that material is vegetation, wetlands, concrete, or sand. They can be used to track the growth of cities, assess flooding, keep tabs on environmental issues like deforestation or desertification, and more.

The newly released land cover map of Africa shows the continent at an extremely detailed resolution. Each pixel represents just 65.6 feet (20 meters) on the ground. It’s designed to help researchers model the extent of climate change across Africa, study biodiversity and natural resources, and see how land use is changing, among other applications.

Developed as part of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) Land Cover project, the space agency gathered a full year’s worth of data from its Sentinel-2A satellite to create the map. In total, the image is made from 90 terabytes of data—180,000 images—taken between December 2015 and December 2016.

The map is so large and detailed that the space agency created its own online viewer for it. You can dive further into the image here.

And keep watch: A better map might be close at hand. In March, the ESA launched the Sentinal-2B satellite, which it says will make a global map at a 32.8 feet-per-pixel (10 meters) resolution possible.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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