5 Whitney Houston | EW.com

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5 Whitney Houston

As she traveled from arena to arena this fall in a 12-countryEuropean concert tour, Whitney Houston had nothing to declare. Andwe mean nothing. A sample of our conversation:

EW: In the wake of The Bodyguard, you must have a pile ofscripts – WH: Nope. Not a pile. Three, four –

EW: What kind of woman would you like to play next?

WH: I would like [small pause] to play a woman [long pause] whois just [epic pause] like me.

EW: And what kind of woman are you?

WH: [after a beat] I’m every woman.

Coy? Oy. But who can blame Houston for refusing to be pinned down?Little more than a year ago, the warning tag on her career read:Declining album sales. No real R&B legitimacy (whatever that is).An upcoming film (her first, for which critics were sharpeningtheir knives).

You know the rest. Whitney Houston, 30, has spent the last 12months enjoying a success so relentless that nothing butsledgehammered shards of conventional wisdom are left in its wake.The statistics are all there. Worldwide ticket sales in excess of$280 million for The Bodyguard. Album sales – 10 million in theU.S. alone – that made the movie’s soundtrack one of thebest-selling CDs in history. And a single, ”I Will Always LoveYou,” that sold 4 million copies by turning a lachrymose ’70sballad by Dolly Parton into a piercing, clarion anthem thatwouldn’t let go. Perhaps the only person in America who didn’thear it over and over was Houston, who spent the songs 13-week runatop the charts waiting for the birth of her daughter, Bobbi(named for husband Bobby Brown). ”It’s only now that I’m on tourthat I hear the song,” says Houston. ”Every night when I sing it.”

What matters more than the numbers, though, is Houston’sintangible trade-up within the pop-culture pantheon. Ageneration ago, Diana Ross was considered for The Bodyguard, amove that might have catapulted her to a level of movie-musiccrossover success that she never fulfilled and that Houston has,with one stroke, achieved. But Houston, whose tastes tend moretoward New Jersey domesticity than Swiss spectacle, isn’t fondof comparisons to Ross; she’d rather invoke childhood favoriteBarbra Streisand. Yet branding Houston the next anybody doesn’tquite tell the tale. To find out who she really is, simplyrecall a music-video image from this year in which, gargantuanlypregnant, incongruously sexy, and in spectacular voice, she toreinto an old Chaka Khan song as if she owned it. The song was”I’m Every Woman.” Naturally.

– Mark Harris

Suddenly, the Everywoman has everything: a huge CD, a baby, andHollywood calling

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Suddenly, the Everywoman has everything: a huge CD, a baby, andHollywood calling