BRAND NEW ON E!
The Grammy-winning diva has signed a record $100 million deal to remain with Arista Records, the label she's been with since Clive Davis first signed her nearly two decades ago. Houston's megabucks contract is said to be the music industry's biggest ever, topping even the $80 million deal signed by troubled songbird Mariah Carey in April.
But unlike Carey's new multi-album deal with Virgin Records, Houston still owes six new albums to Arista under her current contract. "Whitney Houston is the queen of Arista Records," Arista president Antonio "L.A." Reid tells the Hollywood Reporter. "She really has earned this deal. But this wasn't an exchange of money for guaranteed anything."
Some previously speculated that Houston might jump ship and join her mentor Davis, who started J Records after Arista sent him packing in a power struggle last May. But Reid insists "there has never, ever been a question of her leaving Arista."
Under terms of the deal, Houston, 37, will get $25 million up front. In return, she'll fulfill her commitment to release six new albums and two greatest-hits compilations for Arista.
"I am so excited with this new deal and I'm looking forward to going into the studio soon to start work on my next album," Houston said in a statement. "Arista Records has been my home since the beginning of my career. I am happy to be continuing the relationship and I look forward to working with L.A. Reid and the new Arista family."
Since her smash 1985 debut Whitney Houston, the pop queen became one of the biggest-selling female artists of all time, selling more than 140 million albums worldwide, winning six Grammys and turning out classics like "The Greatest Love of All" and "I Will Always Love You."
Her 1987 sophomore album, Whitney, made her the first female artist to debut at number one on the Billboard album charts, and generated seven consecutive number-one singles. Her last album, 2000's Whitney: The Greatest Hits, handed Houston her eighth consecutive multiplatinum album.
But recently, Houston was making news more for her bizarre behavior than her music. In January 2000, she was stopped at a Hawaiian airport by security guards after they allegedly found half an ounce of marijuana in her carry-on bag. The drug charges were later dropped after Houston pleaded no contest and agreed to pay several fines.
Still, the Hawaii incident sparked what would become a tabloid-fueled frenzy over Houston's state of health. The pot bust--followed by a series of strange incidents and a no-show at the Oscars--led some to speculate that Houston was battling a drug problem.
"We all have good times and bad," Reid told the New York Daily News. "I looked at Whitney Houston and saw a woman dedicated to her career."