Cissy Houston

Cissy Houston

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Cissy Houston

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Emily "Cissy" Drinkard Houston (born September 30, 1933) is a Grammy Award–winning American soul and gospel singer. She led a very successful career as a backup singer for such artists as Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, and Aretha Franklin, and is now primarily a solo artist. She is the mother of singer and actress Whitney Houston and aunt of Dionne Warwick and the late Dee Dee Warwick.

Early years

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Houston was the youngest of eight children of parents Nicholas (aka Nitch) and Delia Drinkard. In 1938 when Houston was 5 years old her mother, Delia, suffered a stroke and died of cerebral hemorrhage three years later. Her father later died of stomach cancer in 1951 when Houston was 18.

As a child, Houston joined her sister Anne and brothers Larry and Nicky in the gospel singing group the Drinkard Four in 1938. Houston's sister, Lee (who would later become the mother of singers Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick), later joined the group along with Ann Moss and Marie Epps, and the group was renamed The Drinkard Singers. Houston and the Drinkard Singers regularly performed at New Hope Baptist Church and later recorded a live album for RCA called A Joyful Noise.

Private life

Shortly after her father's death, Houston married her first husband in 1954 at the age of 21. The two were divorced two years later while Houston was pregnant with her first son, Gary. Still pregnant, she met Army serviceman John Houston, and the two were married in......
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