Young Whitney Houston: Never-Before-Seen Photos of the 'One in a Million' Superstar Before Fame

Photographer Bette Marshall's 1980s shots of the late music icon — featured in this week's issue of PEOPLE — show her in a new light

01 of 07

Marshall Meets Her Muse

"Young Whitney" book photos
Young Whitney. Bette Marshall

In an instant, photographer Bette Marshall can be taken back 40 years, to the first time she saw Whitney Houston perform.

"This beautiful girl in a white dress stood up and sang 'Tomorrow' from Annie," Marshall, 82, recalls of the then-18-year-old's showstopping moment in 1982 at mom Cissy's New York City concert. "My husband and I looked at each other and said, 'That is a superstar.'"

Afterward Marshall asked the Houstons for permission to take day-in-the-life photos of Whitney, beginning a four-year journey with the singer, who died in 2012 at age 48.

In her upcoming book Young Whitney (out Feb. 8, three days before the 10th anniversary of Whitney's death), Marshall shares stories about the star as well as never-before-seen images.

"I was very fortunate to see this butterfly emerge from her cocoon," says Marshall, whose book will also be the subject of an upcoming documentary, Whitney Houston in Focus. "She was one in a million."

02 of 07

At Home with the Houstons

"Young Whitney" book photos
Whitney Houston and her brothers Gary and Michael. Bette Marshall

For their first session in 1982, Marshall shot Whitney at her home in New Jersey with her family, including her brothers Gary and Michael.

"There was a warm feeling," Marshall says. "The home photos are so special to me because they were the most intimate ones of Whitney and her family."

03 of 07

A Musical Legacy

"Young Whitney" book photos
Whitney Houston. Bette Marshall

In Whitney's 1982 bedroom, she had a photo of her cousin Dionne Warwick on the wall. Next to it was a poster of her mom Cissy.

"There were no posters of teen heartthrobs," says Marshall. "It was the picture of Cissy and the little picture next to it of Dionne. She grew up with all those voices around her."

04 of 07

Mama's Girl

"Young Whitney" book photos
Cissy and Whitney Houston. Bette Marshall

"I'm sure like any teenage girl and their mother, they may have had their moments, but she really adored her mother," Marshall says of Whitney (with Cissy in the recording studio in 1982). "Cissy was her mentor."

"When she was about 12 or 13, Whitney told her mom she wanted to be a singer," Marshall continues. "She said, 'Well, if you're going to be a singer, then you're going to learn to do it right.' So Cissy became her coach."

05 of 07

Ready for the Majors

"Young Whitney" book photos
Bette Marshall

At Whitney's audition for CBS Records in 1982, Marshall saw a style "transformation" from little girl to young woman.

"I was surprised when I got there because maybe three or four weeks earlier, she had done an audition for Bruce Lundvall of Elektra Records in a little girl-looking dress," recalls Marshall. "Then, suddenly, she came in wearing this elegant silk blouse and pencil skirt and high heels. I don't know whether it was her choice, or if she was advised to wear that at that point, but she looked gorgeous. She also sang great."

06 of 07

Training Ground

"Young Whitney" book photos
Whitney Houston. Bette Marshall

"Church was like her second home. That's where she got all her first singing experience," Marshall says of Whitney (singing at a gospel event at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York City, in 1983). "She was very comfortable there."

07 of 07

Final Frames

"Young Whitney" book photos
Whitney Houston. Bette Marshall

Marshall's last time photographing Whitney was in 1986 during the video shoot for "Greatest Love of All" at N.Y.C.'s Apollo Theater.

"When I arrived, she came over and gave me a hug," Marshall says. "We greeted each other, and then she said, 'Now, I have to go be Whitney Houston.' She transformed as she walked back and sang 'The Greatest Love of All.'"

"I was totally thrilled and knocked out," Marshall adds. "She looked incredible. Now she was a star."

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