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The term “diva” was not coined or derived for Whitney Houston. That being said, nobody’s ever been more worthy than her to don that honorific. Our best memories of Houston recall a performer with grace, humor, and a voice that could leave a crowd speechless with both its power and range. However, the images of Houston burned in our mind — in true diva fashion — don’t see her often sharing a stage. The hits that’ll go on long after we’re gone were mostly Houston on her own, and let’s face it: The artist known as “The Voice” didn’t need to be propped up, nor are there many singers in popular music history who could share that stage and not look totally outmatched.
But that’s hardly to say that Houston was opposed to sharing a spotlight. Her success came through years of collaborating with some of the great producers, songwriters, and set musicians of any era. And, though it’s a less-lauded part of her career, Houston was often at her most revealing when sharing a moment with another artist. As she famously sang, “I learned from the best,” and her long list of credits shows several fascinating moments when she either extended a hand to one of her teachers or to a younger generation that grew up dreaming of following in her vocal runs.
As we celebrate the 35th anniversary of Houston’s self-titled debut, an album that shifted both musical and pop-culture landscapes, we thought it’d be fun — or at least different — to see what we can learn about one of the great solo artists of all time by revisiting how she sang with others. Unlike her voice, the results weren’t always perfection, but more times than not, like any true diva, we see Houston lifting up those around her.