34. Whitney Houston
August 9th, 1963
Key Tracks "The Greatest Love of All," "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," "Saving All My Love for You," "I Will Always Love You"
Influenced Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Faith Evans, Mary J. Blige
The daughter of R&B and gospel singer Cissy Houston, Whitney grew up around family friends Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight; Dionne Warwick was a cousin. "When I started singing," she once said, "it was almost like speaking." By the time she was 22, Whitney had emerged as the greatest female voice of her generation: Her 1985 debut alone included the monster hits "Saving All My Love for You," "How Will I Know" and "The Greatest Love of All." Her voice is a mammoth, coruscating cry: Few vocalists could get away with opening a song with 45 unaccompanied seconds of singing, but Houston's powerhouse version of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" is a tour de force.