Whitney Houston’s Parents: Everything To Know About Mom Cissy & Dad John Russell

Whitney Houston was a legendary musician, but did you know she came from a musical family? Below is everything to know about her parents Cissy & John Russell.

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  • Whitney Houston was a legendary singer and one of the all-time bestselling recording artists.
  • The late musician was nicknamed “The Voice” and her music continues to be popular many years after her death.
  • The film, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, is based on Whitney’s life and is set to premiere on Dec. 23, 2022.

“I Will Always Love You” singer Whitney Houston was a successful singer and actress who tragically died on Feb. 11, 2012. During her life, she became one of the bestselling recording artists of all time and even went on to win six Grammy Awards. She also starred in hit movies like The Bodyguard, Sparkle, and Waiting To Exhale. Despite being a successful songstress herself, Whitney was raised by her talented mother, Cissy Houston, 89, who is also a singer. Keep reading to learn more about Whitney’s parents, including her manager father, John Russell Houston.

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Whitney & Cissy Houston at an awards ceremony. (Shutterstock)

Cissy Houston

Whitney’s mother, Cissy, is a successful singer herself. Born Emily “Cissy” Houston in Newark, New Jersey, the 89-year-old is known for her songs “Think It Over”, “Tomorrow”, “Nothing Can Stop Me”, and more. The gospel singer began as a backup singer for many iconic artists including Roy Hamilton, Dionne Warwick, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, and more. Later, Cissy pursued a solo career and became so successful that she went on to win a total of two Grammy Awards. The “This Empty Place” songstress even collaborated with Whitney on a few tracks including “I Know Him So Well”, “Ain’t No Way”, and “You Send Me.”

In 2013, one year after Whitney’s passing, Cissy released the book, Remembering Whitney, about her daughter. She opened up about the moment she found out her daughter had died during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, 68, that same year. “Well, my son called me, and he was screaming, ‘Mom! Mom!'”, she recalled at the time. “I said, ‘Is she dead?’ and he said, ‘yeah mommy she’s dead’, and I don’t remember too much else after that.” Cissy told Oprah that she was a “wreck” and “alone” when she got the devastating news.

John Russell Houston

John was not only Whitney’s father, but also was her talent manager for many years. The businessman sadly died on Feb. 2, 2003, nearly 10 years before his daughter. Although he helped the “I Have Nothing” singer build her career, eventually their relationship turned tumultuous. One year before his death John’s company, John Houston Entertainment, sued Whitney for “breach of contract,” per MTV News. The lawsuit was for a total of $100 million, and when Whitney opened up about it on the The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009, she said she believed her dad was being “influenced” by other people.

“My dad was being influenced by people that were lying to my father,” Whitney shared at the time. “My father was sick at the time, he was in the hospital. I was paying the bills, I mean I took care of my father.” Despite their vicissitudes, Whitney told the Own It author that she “forgave” John. “Absolutely, I love my dad,” she said. “And I knew he was sick, he was in his 80s at that time, in the hospital constantly with heart problems.” Whitney also revealed that there were a period of “years” where they “didn’t speak at all.” However, when he became gravely ill, Whitney decided to put an end to the feud.

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Whitney Houston was very close to her mom, Cissy. (Shutterstock)

Their Kids

Cissy and John were married from 1959 until their divorce in 1990. During their marriage, they welcomed two kids, Whitney, and her brother, Michael Houston. Cissy also welcomed her son, Gary Garland, 65, with her first husband, Freddie Garland, in 1957. Gary is a gospel singer, like his mother, and Michael also pursued a career as a singer, per Distractify.

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