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Leah Johnson is a University of Michigan- Dearborn graduate and she has a B.A. d
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Watching Whitney Houston "Sparkle"

Her spirit, her smile and of course, her voice make Whitney Houston unforgettable.

My mom and I were reminded of Houston’s talent during a recent special screening of the movie Sparkle, Houston’s last film before her untimely passing in February.

Among the many guests at the Emagine Theater in Royal Oak that evening was Martha Reeves, Aretha Franklin and Jordin Sparks. Sparks spoke briefly before the start of the film relating what it was like to work with Whitney Houston. She told of Houston’s genuineness, and her willingness to be on set supporting her cast members. Sparks said the tears seen in the “mother-daughter” scenes are real because she and Houston had truly bonded.

My co-worker Reba Johnson was also at the film screening that evening. The next day at work, we talked about how much we enjoyed “Sparkle” and we are trying hard to not spoil the film or Houston’s performance for the rest our Museum family.

The following is a brief bio of Whitney Houston who was born on this day:

August 9, 1963 Whitney Elizabeth Houston, recording artist, actress, and former model, was born in Newark, New Jersey. Houston began singing at the age of 11 as a member of her church’s junior gospel choir. After she began performing with her mother, Cissy Houston, in New York City nightclubs she was discovered. Houston released her debut album “Whitney Houston” in 1985 and it became the best selling debut album by a female artist. Her second album “Whitney” released in 1987 became the first album by a female artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart. Other albums by Houston include “I’m Your Baby Tonight” (1990), “Just Whitney” (2002), and “I Look to You” (2009). Houston was one of the world’s best-selling music artist, selling more than 200 million albums and singles worldwide. She was nominated for 23 Grammy Awards and won six. Houston also appeared in several feature films, including “The Bodyguard” (1992), “Waiting to Exhale” (1995) and “The Preacher’s Wife” (1996). The soundtrack for “The Bodyguard” won the 1993 Grammy Award for Album of the Year and the soundtrack for “The Preacher’s Wife” is the best selling gospel album of all-time. Houston died February 11, 2012, shortly after completing the film “Sparkle.” Several biographies have been published of Houston, including “Good Girl, Bad Girl: An Insider’s Biography of Whitney Houston” (1996) and “Whitney Houston: The Biography” (2003).

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Leah Johnson is a University of Michigan- Dearborn graduate and she has a B.A. degree in Communication. In college, she minored in Psychology and African American Studies after developing a love her history, culture and African American literature. She currently works in the Communication and Marketing Department at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Two of Leah's "She-ros" are Ida B. Wells Barnett, the fearless journalist who exposed the truth about lynching, and Madame CJ Walker, the first self-made African American female millionaire. "I love these women because they were determined and did what was necessary to succeed and defend the truth. That lets me know that I can be a successful African American woman as well," said Leah.

In her spare time, Leah enjoys traveling, bowling, shoe shopping, and spending time with friends and family.

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