In 1983, Clive Davis introduced Whitney to the world for the first time on The Merv Griffin Show. “There was Lena Horne, there’s Dionne Warwick,” he said, “but if the mantle has to pass to someone who is 19, who’s elegant, who’s sensuous, who’s innocent, who’s got an incredible range of talent, but guts and soul at the same time, it would be Whitney Houston, in my opinion.” Whitney’s collaborative relationship with Davis would persist throughout the tenure of her professional career, becoming Arista Records’ flagship recording artist after signing with the label in 1983.
Despite many believing that Davis shaped Whitney’s career, they often worked in more of a symbiotic relationship, learning from and informing each other of their extensive musical repertoires as their careers grew to new heights. “I was very amazed at how much—I shouldn’t have been but—my mother knew how knowledgeable Clive was of music, of songs, of lyric, of melody,” Whitney once said in an interview, with her signature clipped diction offering emphasis. “We love the same music, believe it or not.”