It was a scene of moving emotions as mourners at the New Hope Baptist Church where Whitney Houston was given a befitting farewell prior to her interment on Sunday. They came from far and wide and even the Angels came singing for a lady of song whose history of musical talent will never depart humanity
Though a family affair, sympathisers, friends, celebrities across America converge to celebrate a pop icon whose departure to the world beyond was least expected. And so Whitney Houston got a befitting farewell on Saturday at crows converged to witness the spectacle of a rousing departure. The history of the ceremony will remain forever in the mind of numerous admirers.
It all kicked of at about 11 o’clock American timewhen three police officers escorted Houston’s silver casket, draped with white roses and purple lilies. White-robed choir members began to fill the pews on the podium. As the band played softly, the choir sang in a hushed voice, “Whitney, Whitney, Whitney.”
“We are here today, hearts broken but yet with God’s strength we celebrate the life of Whitney Houston,” Rev. Joe A. Carter told the packed church after the choir behind him sang “The Lord is My Shepherd.” “Whitney, you are the only woman that could bring all of us together. Whitney, today is your day.”
Complete Coverage: Death of a pop diva…. Couttesy CBS
A gospel choir, members dressed in white and gold, opened the funeral with song, and churchgoers were swaying and clapping along. Some stood in the aisles in the full church. Others were more mournful; singer Ray J., who spent time with Houston during her last days, broke down crying. His sister, singer Brandy, put her arm around him.
Houston’s mother, Cissy Houston and Houston’s daughter, 18-year-old Bobbi Kristina, clutched each other in the front of the row.
Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Hudson, Robert Flack, Chaka Khan, Rev. Jesse Jackson, actor Lela Rochon, Monica and Jordin Sparks were among the guests at the funeral. Houston’s cousin Dionne Warwick presided over the service, introducing speakers and singers and offering short comments about Houston between them.
At the beginning of the service, filmmaker Tyler Perry praised Houston’s “grace that kept on carrying her all the way through, the same grace led her all the way to the top of the charts. She sang for presidents.”
“There are two constants that I know about Whitney Houston,” Perry said. “There was a grace that carried her from heaven down through Miss Cissy Houston, a grace that brought her up through singing. The other thing I know for sure: Whitney Houston loved the Lord.”
When Costner gave his remarks he made the crowd laugh at various points while remembering their friendship and working relationship.
He talked about what the pair had in common: Both had been raised in the Baptist church and both liked to sing. He said Houston, of course, was a much better singer.
“I thought she was the perfect choice,” Costner said about casting Houston in “The Bodyguard,” her first movie role.
“Whitney if you can hear me now, you weren’t just good enough,” he said about Houston despite her insecurities. “You were great.”
Costner, his voice cracking, ended by saying, “When you sing before Him, don’t worry, you’ll be good enough.”
Watch live streaming video of Whitney Houston’s funeral beginning 12:00 p.m. ET byclicking here.
Before her performance, Alicia Keys, wiping tears, called Houston a “beautiful human being,” adding, “She’s an angel to us. She’s been an angel to us.”
Actor Kevin Costner, filmmaker Tyler Perry, music producer Clive Davis and musicians Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys joined friends and family gathered to pay their respects..
More than 1,500 packed the New Hope Baptist Church for the nearly four- hour service that celebrated Houston’s life and career.
Costner remembered his co-star in “The Bodygiard” as a movie star who was uncertain of her own fame, who “still wondered, ‘am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Will they like me?’ ”
“It was the burden that made her great and the part that caused her to stumble in the end,” Costner said.
Pictures coming later