"Step by Step" is a song written and originally recorded by singer Annie Lennox, later a cross over pop hit by R&B/pop singer Whitney Houston. The song served as the second single from Houston's 1996 soundtrack album, The Preacher's Wife. Lennox's recording originally appeared as the B-side to her 1992 single "Precious" Largely, Houston's version replaces Lennox's verses with new lyrics and omits portions from the bridge as well. Annie Lennox also provides background vocals in Houston's rendition.
Billboard called it "one of the shining moments on the soundtrack to The Preacher's Wife" and described it as "a rousing, gospel-kissed chugger", adding that "[i]t's been too long since Houston has cut loose on an uptempo number, and she whips through this jam with engaging ease".Entertainment Weekly in its review for The Preacher's Wife soundtrack wrote "Best among the non-gospel fare, [...] [is] Step by Step, a house throbber penned by Annie Lennox, represents an admirable departure but gets tripped up by a pallid Inspirations R Us lyric and perhaps too much of its author's stamp." According to J. D. Considine of The Baltimore Sun "Step by Step" is "a slick, synth-driven number that recalls the '80s-style sparkle of her early hits" and "certain to spend many weeks in the Top 10". In its review for the dance single for "Step By Step", Billboard called it an "uplifting anthem" in which "Houston cuts loose with stirring gospel fervor". Bob Waliszewski of Plugged In called it "aerobically upbeat", adding that the song "embraces the challenges of living day by day" While reviewing The Preacher's Wife album, Cary Darling of The Orange County Register noted that Houston "turns in a credible, danceable take on Annie Lennox's "Step by Step"" and that "the Teddy Riley remix digs a deep new jack groove."The Miami Herald wrote that "Step by Step" is a "punchy dance/ pop number" and its "bass-rumbling remix seems a natural for clubs".
Following Houston's death in 2012, Entertainment Weekly published a list of her 25 best songs and ranked "Step by Step" at number 13 because: "The Preacher's Wife wasn't a masterpiece, but for gospel lovers, its soundtrack was [...] [a]nd its Annie Lennox-penned second single — an ode to not biting off more than you can chew, set to a churchy dance beat — peaked at a respectable No. 15 on the pop charts." It was placed at number five on Idolators list of "Whitney Houston’s 10 Best Songs That Radio Forgot" because the song "teaches us that we can overcome any obstacle".BET placed it at number 22 in their list of "The 40 Best Whitney Houston Songs" because "she ably recalls her '80s uptempo prime with a result that's both spirit- and body-moving".
After its release, "Step by Step" reached number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the U.S. Houston's single charted successfully across the globe, reaching the Top 20 in over 45 countries. It was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. It was also successful in Europe and peaked number ten on the composite European Hot 100. In the United Kingdom, the song was released in late 1996 as the first single from The Preacher's Wife soundtrack. It peaked at number six and was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry. In February 2012, after Houston's passing, it re-entered the UK singles chart at number 83. As of 2012, the song had sold 235000 copies in the United Kingdom. In Australia, it peaked at number 12 and spent 15 weeks on the chart. It was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association. In Austria it peaked at number six and spent 16 weeks on the chart.
The video shows mainly Houston wearing a brown raincoat and dancing to the song on a center stage while other dancers join her as the song develops. Houston's footages are intercut with scenes of a youth center, being restored by youngsters after a fire. The video was directed by Paul Hunter.