Whitney Houston was just a fresh-faced 19-year-old upcoming singer (and model) when record exec mentor Clive Davis brought her to The Merv Griffin Show. Houston made her TV debut with a performance of "Home" off The Wiz soundtrack, as she didn't have any original music out yet. "You won't forget that name; Whitney Houston," Merv Griffin prophetically exclaimed after the amazing performance. We still miss you, Whitney!
Stacy Ferguson, or Fergie as we know her today, was a mainstay on The Disney Channel's childrens' music series Kids Incorporated from 1984 to 1989. Here she is in 1986 singing Lionel Richie's hit "Say You, Say Me." Damn, girl had those pipes even at 11-years-old! And no, we have no idea why that creepy clown is there or why she's singing to him.
Check out a very young Shakira performing "Su Nombre" on Colombian music TV series Caribe Alegre y Tropical in 1988. Surprisingly it seems this series is still on air in Colombia! Stick around because at about 4 minutes in, Shaki gives us a Spanish rendition of Madonna's "La Isla Bonita," appropriately.
It's hard to believe late great R&B princess Aaliyah was only 10 years old when she took on (and killed) the jazz standard "My Funny Valentine" on a 1989 episode of Star Search, the TV singing competition popular from the mid '80s into the '90s that paved the way for shows like American Idol and The Voice.
It may feel like No Doubt's been making hits forever but even the ska-pop band got their start on television. Check out a 20-year-old Gwen Stefani and crew performing original song "Up Yours" on San Pedro, California's local access program The Gig in January 1990, nearly two years before the release of their self-titled debut album.
This one may not come as much of a surprise. Mariah Carey's TV debut, performing her breakout hit "Vision of Love" on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1990, is widely known as the moment the general public figured out Mariah wasn't just a "studio singer" and could hold her own live. Go ahead and watch because it's still just as great as when it first aired 24 years ago.
It's hard to believe Lauryn Hill was still a high school student when she played troubled runaway Kira on the long-running soap opera As The World Turns. While Hill's performance on the Jessica and Duncan wedding episode in 1991 wasn't her first time on TV, (remember her audition on Showtime at The Apollo at 13?) it certainly was one of her best early TV performances. FYI: This was two years prior to Hill's breakout role in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.
The were a handful of go-to TV shows for up-and-coming pop, R&B and hip hop groups to perform on in the early '90s, and Showtime at The Apollo was definitely one of them. Check out TLC, still one of music's most successful groups, performing their second single (and first No. 1 song) "Baby-Baby-Baby" on the stage of the famous Harlem, New York City venue in 1992.
This rare gem may be the most entertaining clip in this whole list. Behold an extremely young Backstreet Boys performing a song titled "Loverboy" (yeah, we don't know either) on Florida's local 6 News in 1993. That makes youngest member Nick Carter just 13 years old here. Don't miss A.J.'s amazing parted bowl cut hairstyle. This performance and interview were three years prior to BSB dropping the first iteration of their breakout debut self-titled debut album.
It's common knowledge Christina Aguilera has one of the biggest voices of this generation. That doesn't mean a 12-year-old Xtina slaying this Whitney Houston "I Have Nothing" cover on Disney's The New Mickey Mouse Club in 1993 doesn't still blow us away. The best part? You can hear that trademark Christina vocal growl even then. Want more? Check out Xtina's Star Search performance at 8yo of Etta James' "Sunday Kind of Love."
Britney and Justin?! Two for one! Keeping with the New Mickey Mouse Club theme, check out young Britney Spears and a rapping (yes, rapping) Justin Timberlake perform a "modernized" version of The Staple Singers' soul classic "I'll Take You There" in 1994. That makes Brit about 12 years old here and Justin 13. Who knew then what was to come for these two?
Green Day made their national TV debut in June of 1994 performing breakout hit "Basket Case" on the Late Show With David Letterman. The single came off the band's '94 album Dookie, which was was actually their third, but first to blow up for the trio, going Diamond in the States (sales of 10-million copies or more).
Before R&B vet Brandy made it big as a singer, she co-starred in the short-lived ABC sitcom Thea. In an episode that aired in November 1993, Thea misses a birthday trip to a Motown concert because of work so Brandy's character Danesha performs Aretha Franklin's signature hit "Respect." It was instantly clear 14-year-old Brandy had vocal and performance chops beyond her years. Less than a year later Brandy dropped her self-titled debut album featuring breakout hits "I Wanna Be Down" and "Baby."
If you're a Jay Z fan, you know he's been part of hip hop long before 1996; From his appearance on early mentor Jaz-O's "The Originators" in '89 to a rare '94 solo track "I Can't Get Wit That," not to mention numerous remixes and freestyles. But it seems Hov's '96 performance on BET's Teen Summit of his first two official solo singles, "Dead Presidents" and "Ain't No N***a," may have been his first national TV performance. Something tells us those people would be a lot more hype if this was 2014 and they were on stage with frekin' Jay Z.
Thanks to an interlude on Beyonce's recent self-titled visual album, almost everyone knows about Destiny's Child's first appearance (as Girls Tyme) on Star Search. Instead, get into this 1998 DC performance of their breakout hit "No No No (Part 2)" on the short-lived VIBE TV hosted by Sinbad (yes, that Sinbad). Between VIBE magazine having a TV show, Sinbad hosting and the girls' outfits, it doesn't get much more '90s than this, folks!
We've known JoJo slays vocally since we first heard her debut single "Leave (Get Out)" in 2004, but get into a 7-year-old Joanna Levesque holding her own with comedic icon Bill Cosby on Kids Say The Darndest Things in 1998. Not only does young Jo show off some impressive pipes, her ability to keep up with Cosby is a testament to her maturity and inherent ability to perform. Want more? Check out JoJo performing Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools" at age 8 on singing competition Destination Stardom.
Before hitting it big with her provocative breakout hit "I Kissed a Girl," Katy Perry went by her government name, Katy Hudson, and was (believe it or not) a Christian artist. Behold a young Katy (Perry) Hudson performing original track "Growing Pains" (off her one album as Katy Hudson) in 2001 on Christian TV channel Trinity Broadcasting Network's Day 7. Who knew just seven years later Katy would be singing lyrics like "I kissed a girl and I liked it, the taste of her cherry Chapstick."
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