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When 11-year-old Whitney Houston sang her first solo in church she was petrified. "I stood there stiff as a board," she says, "but I sang this song and the people went crazy." Now 21, Houston has conquered stage fright, taken her three-octave voice to the pop life and is still driving people crazy. So crazy in fact that they boosted You Give Good Love, a song from her debut album, Whitney Houston, to the No. 1 spot on the R&B chart.

Not a bad start for someone who took no formal vocal training and reads only a little music. But as the daughter of gospel and soul singer Cissy Houston and the cousin of pop diva Dionne Warwick, Whitney has some serious genes going for her. At age 15, she was singing backup alongside her mom for the likes of Lou Rawls and Chaka Khan. More coaching came when she joined her mother's nightclub act.

Houston, who is also a model, has an apartment near her parents' New Jersey home, though she won't be seeing much of the state for a while. She embarked on her first national tour in June, opening for pop singer Jeffrey Osborne. She plans to headline in the fall. Her 45-minute set is very straightforward. "God gave me a voice to sing with and when you have that," says Whitney, "what other gimmick is there?"

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