A Look Back at Whitney Houston’s GRAMMY Award Show History

Whitney Houston’s favorite event of the year was the GRAMMYs. It also marked the last place the singer went before her death in 2012. Houston’s history with the GRAMMYs is a long one, and dates back to the beginning of her career. She’s the most awarded female singer in history, which includes several GRAMMY wins.

Whitney Houston holding her first GRAMMY Award
Whitney Houston 1986 | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

She was nominated over two dozen times

Houston was a staple at the GRAMMYs since the start of her career. Her debut self-titled album was released in 1985 and was an instant success and the GRAMMYs took notice. 

On Feb. 25, 1986, a then 22-year-old Houston made her first appearance at the award ceremony. That year, she was nominated in three separate categories. Her 1985 single  “Saving All My Love for You” beat out Madonna, Tina Turner, Pat Benatar, and Linda Ronstadt to win Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The nominations kept coming.

In total, Houston earned 26 GRAMMY nominations over the course of her four-decade career, including in the categories of Album of the Year, which she won in 1994 for The Bodyguard Original Soundtrack Album. Houston also won the 1998 award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay.” 

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Her last nominations came in 2000, for My Love Is Your Love, including a nomination for Best R&B Album. The “I Will Always Love You” singer shared other nominations in 2000 for “Heartbreak Hotel” featuring Kelly Price and Faith Evans, as well as for her duet with Mariah Carey for “When You Believe” from The Prince of Egypt soundtrack.

Houston has also won Grammy Awards for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1987 for “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1994 for “I Will Always Love You.”

The singer has performed on the GRAMMY stage seven times

Outside of nominations, it was always a treat when Houston took the stage to deliver top notch performances. Some of her favorite performances of fans were at the GRAMMY Awards. 

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She performed on the GRAMMYs stage seven times, which include three times she opened the show. Her first opening of the award ceremony was in 1988 when she performed the GRAMMY Award winning song “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me).” The second came the following year when she performed “One Moment in Time” in 1989. And her final opening number was when she performed “I Will Always Love You” in 1994 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

Houston’s final three Grammy performances were all medleys. In 1996, she took the stage with gospel greats Shirley Caesar and CeCe Winans. Houston performed a medley of songs in 1997 featured on the soundtrack for Waiting to Exhale alongside  Mary J. Blige, Brandy, CeCe Winans, Aretha Franklin, and Chaka Khan. And in 2000, Houston performed a medley of songs from her album My Love Is Your Love with her singles “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” and “I Learned from the Best.”

GRAMMY weekend has become synonymous with her death

Houston’s favorite event of the year was anything GRAMMY related. As fate would have it, her final moments were during the GRAMMY Award weekend in 2012. She was in town the weekend to celebrate with her peers, but died hours before her longtime mentor and label head Clive Davis’ Pre-GRAMMY party was scheduled to begin. 

Houston was staying in a suite at the Beverly Hilton on the 4th floor just above where the party was being held in a ballroom downstairs. Despite the tragedy, Davis felt it was important to continue on as promised, claiming it was something Houston would have wanted. The decision turned out to be a controversial one for those who attended or were on the list to attend.

“She was so looking forward to tonight even though she wasn’t scheduled to perform. She loved music, and she loved this night that celebrates music,” Davis said in a tribute to Houston during the gala. 

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