Whitney Houston closed out the ’90s with My Love Is Your Love, an album with an edgier R&B sound than previous efforts. The album extended past her collaborative mainstays of David Foster and Babyface to rising contemporary giants in hip-hop and R&B such as Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, and Q-Tip. It was released to strong critical reviews and produced the hit single, “Heartbreak Hotel,” featuring Faith Evans and Kelly Price.
It was the Prince of Egypt duet, “When You Believe,” with Mariah Carey, however, that was viewed as a true triumph—two vocal divas coming together at the peaks of their careers, squashing any press-fueled rumors of a rivalry to put out a hit single that would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song. “Working with Whitney was an experience I’ll never forget,” Carey said to Billboard in an interview.
“It was a bonding experience. … Once we knew each other, we had the best time together and I was honored to work with her, so when I look at this picture, I’m really proud that we had this moment together.”
In 2009, after several years away from the public eye, Whitney returned to the probing gaze of the music and entertainment world, newly sober and reinvigorated with her new album, I Look to You, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. It was Whitney’s first number one album since The Bodyguard soundtrack and first studio album to reach number one since Whitney. She performed her comeback single, “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength,”—a testament to her own resilience, as well as an affirmation to the millions of women who are battling demons of all kinds—and was honored as International Artist of the Year at the 2009 American Music Awards. There, she was a vision from the heavens in all white and received a minutes-long standing ovation. As Samuel L. Jackson expressed when reading the inscription to Whitney, she has a “popularity that knows no borders or boundaries.”