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Cissy Houston, Musical Legend, Turns 88

Sep 30, 2021 09:30AM ● By Kassidy Garland
Cissy Houston

Emily “Cissy” Drinkard was born on September 30, 1933, in Newark, New Jersey. She was the eighth and final child of Nitcholas "Nitch" Drinkard and Delia Mae Drinkard. The family was originally from Georgia, where they own a decent amount of land, but moved to New Jersey after their child was born.

When Cissy was five years old, her mother died of a cerebral hemorrhage, and when she was 18, her father died of stomach cancer, leaving Cissy to move in with her older sister Lee, her husband, Mancel Warrick, and their three children, Mancel, Warrick Jr., Marie Dionne Warrick, and Delia Juanita “Dee Dee” Warrick.

From an early age, the family was encouraged to spend their time at church and sing. Cissy and three of her siblings, Anne, Larry, and Nicky formed “The Drinkard Four” at the encouragement of their father. They performed often at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. Eventually, the group added Marie Epps, Ann Moss, and Lee Drinkard to the group, becoming The Drinkard Singers. In 1955, Cissy married Freddie Garland and the two had one son, Gary Garland. The couple divorced in 1957.

Cissy’s first secular recording, “This Is My Vow”, came out in 1963, and she released a few more, including “Bring Him Back”, and “World of Broken Hearts”, before continuing her work in a group setting.


Although Cissy began her career as a gospel singer, her ability to sing across genres made her a commodity in the music industry. As her career in music gained momentum, Cissy started the group Sweet Inspirations, which included her niece, Dee Dee Warrick, in 1963. Also in 1961, Cissy Houston gave birth to her son, Michael, and in 1963, Cissy gave birth to her daughter, Whitney Houston. Cissy married John Houston, Jr., in 1964. 

Throughout the 1960s, Sweet Inspirations started singing backup for a number of famous acts, including Aretha Franklin, Elvis Pressley, Van Morrisson, and Jimi Hendrix. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Cissy Houston also appeared on albums for Bette Midler and JJ Cole. 

In 1996, Cissy Houston received a Grammy Award for the Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album for Face to Face. Two years later, she won her second Grammy for her album, He Leadeth Me.

Cissy also contributed to a number of projects with her family throughout her career, as there were a number of extraordinary musical talents in the Houston/Warrick family. Cissy, unfortunately lost her daughter, Whitney, in 2012, and her granddaughter in 2015, both to drowning.



History Makers

All Music

 Kassidy Garland has had a great appreciation for reading and writing since she was young. She graduated from West Chester University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English & Women and Gender Studies. With a concentration in creative writing, Kassidy has 5 years of experience writing blogs, articles, and for social media. Kassidy is also pursuing a Master’s degree in IT with a concentration in Web Development. Based out of Philadelphia, Kassidy loves to write about a number of topics and looks forward to sharing her passion with those at FunTimes Magazine. 

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