Whitney Houston fans are aware that she comes from music royalty. Her mother performed background vocals for the likes of Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin, and two of her cousins are also famous soul and pop singers. But some are just learning that another famous cousin of Houston’s is opera singing legend, Leontyne Price. It’s unclear if Houston and Price had a close relationship.
How Whitney Houston is related to opera singer Leontyne Price
Not many people have spoken at length about the relationship between Houston and Price. Her mother, gospel singer and background vocalist Cissy Houston, is the aunt of famous sisters Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick. Cissy’s cousin is also Price, making her a cousin of the “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” singer. Price and Houston are related by their mothers.
Dionne, who is also Houston’s cousin, spoke about the first time she met Price. “I met her for the first time when I went to see her sing Aida,” Warwick said in an interview with PEOPLE. “It was overwhelming. Oh my God, I’m related to you? We had a standing joke every time we’d see each other, ‘Hey cuz.’ To hear her sing, she carried that legacy, the voice, the same Whitney did.” “I came from a family who understands what our purpose is.”
Leontyne Price had a successful career
Price is arguably one of the most famous opera singers, and the first African American opera singer to receive international acclaim. Throughout her lengthy career, she has received more than 20 Grammy Awards, including a 1989 Lifetime Achievement Award. She also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, a Kennedy Center Honor in 1980, and the National Medal of the Arts in 1985. In 2008, Prince was among the first to be named a National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honoree.
Her work with the Metropolitan Opera began in 1961 when she became the first African American to be a leading performer. Price regularly appeared live at some of the world’s most famed opera houses, including the Royal Opera House, the San Francisco Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and La Scala. At La Sacala, Price became the first African American to sing a leading role.
She’s beloved for her performances of the title role in Verdi’s Aida. But, she’s also been acclaimed for her work in Porgy and Bess. She retired in 1997 but reemerged for special performances, including paying tribute to the lives lost in the 9/11 attacks.
Other famous people in and connected to the Houston family
The Warwick sisters performed together as part of a group, as well as solo. Close friends of the Houston family include Bebe and CeCe Winans, Luther Vandross, and Aretha Franklin – the latter of which The Bodyguard star lauded as her godmother. CeCe is the godmother of Houston’s late daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown.
The gospel singer also served as a bridesmaid in Houston’s 1992 wedding to fellow singer Bobby Brown. Brown and Houston were married for 14 years before she filed for divorce in 2006.