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Nine Years After Her Passing, Whitney Houston Still Lives On

She paved the way for women of color to be given opportunities in the music industry.

Nine years ago, on February 11, 2012, the world was shocked by the news that international superstar Whitney Houston had passed away. Reports say she died in an “accident,” but it was also determined that the award-winning singer had several substances in her system.

From then on, the world never failed to commemorate the singer and her great talents. In 2012, during the Grammy Awards — just two days after Houston’s death— Jennifer Hudson performed a tribute to the late singer. Four years after, during a concert in Glasglow, Mariah Carey sang their famous duet “When You Believe” using old footage of Houston singing her part. And just last year, a tribute video from her fans was posted by the Whitney Houston YouTube channel.

This just shows how much impact Houston had and still has years after her unfortunate passing. But it’s not just her voice that was remarkable about the singer— she also paved the way for fellow African-American artists to make names for themselves in the industry.

Legacy of Whitney Houston

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(Left) Whitney Houston with her very first Grammy in 1986. She took home ‘Best Female Pop Vocal Performance’ for the single “Saving All My Love for You”. (Right) Some of Houston’s awards are shown on display at the Grammy Museum. (Photo from Whitney Houston Facebook)

Back when her career was just starting, Houston was one of the few black women whose music was played on MTV— a music station that received criticism for not playing enough music from black artists. (Read: These Rural Women Are Making a Difference in Their Communities)

Through the awarded singer’s music, more and more women of color were played on the station like Janet Jackson and Anita Baker. If men of color had Michael Jackson to break the color barrier, black women had Whitney Houston.

Anita Baker was even quoted to have said that if it were not for Whitney and Sade, she wouldn’t have had an opportunity to share her music. American music database AllMusic also noted that Houston has a contribution to the rise of music by people of color and their respective successes.

“Houston was able to handle big adult contemporary ballads, effervescent, stylish dance-pop, and slick urban contemporary soul with equal dexterity,” they said. (Read: 3 Times Beyoncé Gave Voice to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ Movement)

“The result was an across-the-board appeal that was matched by scant few artists of her era, and helped her become one of the first black artists to find success on MTV in Michael Jackson’s wake.”

Women of Color

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Photos from Beyoncé Facebook, Alicia Keys Facebook, and Missy Elliott Facebook

Houston’s legacy in paving the way for people of color in the music industry can still be seen until now, with the likes of rappers Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliot, and Cardi B, and singers such as Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, and Kehlani, who are all successful in their own careers.

Beyoncé and Alicia Keys are still racking up awards yearly for their music, and these new and on the rise artists continuing to make huge names for themselves and representing women all around the world. (Read: 2021 Grammys: Beyoncé Tops List With 9 Nominations, BTS Makes History)

Whitney Houston may have passed away nine years ago, but her legacy will live on forever, and young girls— especially those of color— will forever be thankful for her contribution.

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