Cissy Houston

US Open Tennis Tournament Opening Night Gala

Houston in 2007, photo by prphotos

Birth Name: Emily Lee Drinkard

Place of Birth: Newark, New Jersey, U.S.

Date of Birth: September 30, 1933

Ethnicity: African-American, with a small amount of English/Irish/Scottish

Cissy Houston is an American soul and gospel singer. Her family formed a family gospel group, The Drinkard Jubilairs, later The Drinkard Singers, who recorded the first gospel album on a major label.

She is the daughter of Adelia/Delia Mae (McCaskill) and Nitcholas/Nicholas “Nitch” Drinkard. Her father was born in Hilton, Early, Georgia. Her mother was born in Florida. Cissy has had a son, basketball player Gary Garland, with her former husband Freddie Garland; and two children, including singer and actress Whitney Houston, with her former husband, administrator and entertainment executive John Russell Houston, Jr. She is the maternal grandmother of Bobbi Kristina Brown. Cissy is the aunt of singer Dionne Warwick.

Cissy’s parents were both African-American, and she also has a small amount of English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. Cissy stated in an interview that she also has Dutch and Native American ancestry. It is not clear if this Native American ancestry has been verified/documented.

Cissy’s paternal grandfather was John Drinkard, Jr. (the son of John Drinkard, Sr. and Victoria Hansom). Cissy’s grandfather John was born in Early County, Georgia. Cissy’s great-grandfather John was born in Mississippi, and was a landowner near the border of Georgia and Alabama.

Cissy’s paternal grandmother was named Susie/Susan Belle/Bell “Delia” Fuller. Susan was born in Georgia.

Cissy’s maternal grandfather was named Stephen McCaskill (the son of Annie/Ann Hogan). Stephen was born in Florida. His biological father likely was John Jett McCaskill, who was white.

Cissy’s maternal grandmother was Emma L. Houston (the daughter of Oliver Houston and Rachel/Rachael Hill). Emma was born in Florida.

A DNA test of Cissy’s niece Dionne displayed on the show Finding Your Roots, with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2024) stated that Dionne’s genetic ancestry consists of:

*80% African
——–*24% Nigeria
——–*23% Benin & Togo
——–*14% Cameroon, Congo, & Western Bantu Peoples
——–*9% Mali
——–*6% Ivory Coast & Ghana
——–*4% Senegal
*19% European
——–*9% England & NW Europe
——–*5% Ireland
——–*3% Scotland
——–*2% Germanic Europe
*1% Asian
——–*1% Southern Philippines

Sources: Genealogies of Cissy Houston –

Cissy speaks of their ancestors –

Cissy’s paternal grandparents, John Drinkard, Jr. and Susie/Susan Belle/Bell Fuller, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Cissy’s mother on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Cissy’s maternal grandparents, Stephen McCaskill and Emma L. Houston, on the 1900 U.S. Census –

City’s maternal grandfather, Stephen McCaskill, on the 1880 U.S. Census –

5 Responses

  1. savanna says:

    why does it say “distant English, Irish, and Scottish” when it refers to her grandfather?
    Shouldn’t it say “*English, Irish, and Scottish (maternal grandfather)” or something?

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