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On February 18, Whitney Houston’s funeral was celebrated in Newark at the N.J.’s New Hope Baptist Church. What was actually a private service, with 1,500 of Whitney Houstonâs loved ones, was broadcasted in its entirely on TV and online in order to give Houstonâs worldwide fans the chance to say farewell to the beloved star.
The funeral went on for almost four hours; it was a celebration of Whitney Houstonâs life and legacy. Several friends and family members took the stage to share their memories and pay homage to the late diva. Unfortunately, Houstonâs godmother, Aretha Franklin, was unable to attend the service due to health problems. Furthermore, Whitney Houstonâs ex-husband, Bobby Brown, left the church before the beginning of the service. Aside from these two unfortunate elements, the celebration was glorious. An amazing gospel choir gave a very touching farewell.
All of the people who had the chance to participate in the ceremony shared something special and emotional. Donnie McClurklin sang ‘Standâ, and Tyler Perry passionately described Houstonâs personality and her love for the Lord. BeBe Winans, standing with his sister, CeCe, by his side, sang the song âI Really Miss Youâ right before Bishop T.D. Jakes spoke.
The pastor underlined how love is greater than death, ending his speech with, âLove will last forever, for God is love.â Kim Burnell then gave a touching performance of âA Change Is Gonna Come’, adapting it to a description of Whitney Houstonâs approach to life and faith.
One of the sweetest speeches was given by Houstonâs friend, actor Kevin Costner. He shared with the crowd personal and funny moments. He stressed how he and Houston, despite different thoughts, were very similar. âThe church was our private bond,â Costner said. He also talked about the infamous movie âThe Bodyguard’, which starred Costner and Houston together.
He told the whole story: how he choose her in the first place and how not all of the people involved in the movie’s production were ready to go along with this decision, due to Houstonâs inexperience with acting and her race.Â During his speech he looked very emotional and deeply connected to the late artist and her family. He also described Whitney Houstonâs insecurity. He explained how she would often worry about not being good enough or pretty enough and how she was afraid people did not like her.
âPeople didnât just like you, Whitney, they loved you,â said Costner. âGod himself wonders how He created something so perfect [âŚ] When you sing in front of Him, donât you worry, youâll be good enough.â Alicia Keys then sat at the piano, visibly moved, and talked about how important the 48-year-old singer’s life was. She passionately sang âPrelude To A Kiss’, ending it by singing, âWhitney is an angel.â
Next, Clive Davis went through a memory of his personal relationship with the artist and her long career, and he talked about being her mentor and producer. He closed his speech by saying, âI loved her very much [âŚ] Whitney was purely and simply one-of-a-kind [âŚ] When I needed her, she was there [âŚ] Bobbi Kristina, always be proud of your mother.â
Ray Watson, Houstonâs brother-in-law and longtime bodyguard, gave a touching speech and stated, âWe gotta give back to our entertainers; treat them well, with dignity, treat them with love, and stop ridiculing them.âÂ Stevie Wonder gracefully took his place at the piano, thanking God for letting him live at the same time as Whitney Houston.
He added that he had a little crush on her when they worked together and said, âWe loved her so much, and that wonât stop.â Wonder sang an alternate version of âRibbon in the Sky’, which he modified on his way to the funeral, then concluded with a joyful performance of âLove Is in Need of Love Today.â
Patricia Houston gave a long, moving speech, underlining the positive attitude that characterized the late singer, as well as her respect for the Lord. R. Kelly, visibly heartbroken, performed ‘I Look to You’ with the choir.Â It was a song he had written and that Whitney Houston had sung in her last studio album. Houstonâs cousin, Dionne Warwick, who presided over the funeral, introduced speakers and singers, then read a poem, right before CeCe Winans sang âDonât Cry For Meâ and âYes, Jesus Loves Meâ.
After this, Rickey Minor explained how Whitney Houston changed his life and how lovable the artist was from every point of view. As a conclusion, Pastor Marvin Winans sang with his entire family before he started preaching.Â The ceremony ended with the casket of Whitney Houston leaving the church while her famous performance of âI Will Always Love Youâ embraced the congregation.
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