Yesterday, the final voice that family of friends of Whitney Houston heard as they remembered her life at her funeral was that of her own. “I Will Always Love You” played throughout New Hope Baptist Church, in Newark, NJ, as the star-studded crowd said their final goodbye to the musical legend.
The nearly four hour funeral brought both tears and laughter as music mogul Clive Davis, actor and friend, Kevin Costner, cousin Dionne Warwick, and Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mom, gave moving eulogies. Performances from Alicia Keys, R. Kelly, Stevie Wonder, and BeBe and CeCe Winans. Aretha Franklin, Houston’s godmother, was due to sing as well, but due to illness did not attend.
Davis told Bobbi Kristina, Whitney’s 18-year-old daughter, “You always be proud of your mother. She loved you so much. She’ll be forever looking after you, and never let go of your hand.” Davis, who discovered Whitney first in 1983, noted, “You wait for a voice like that for a lifetime. You wait for a face like that, a smile like that, a presence like that. And when one person embodies it all well, it takes your breath away.”
Costner, Houston’s co-star in “The Bodyguard,” seemed to have it right when he said, “There’s a lady in heaven who is making God himself wonder how he created something so perfect. So off you go, Whitney. Off you go. Escorted by an army of angels and your heavenly Father. And when you sing before Him don’t worry- you’ll be good enough.”
Also in attendance was Whitney’s close friend, singer Ray J., who was said to be dating the late singer at the time of her death. He was so overcome with emotion, his sister Brandy was seen trying to offer the only thing one could at this difficult time- comfort.
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And so, in the words from the song that Whitney made famous, we remember… “Bittersweet memories that is all I’m taking with me. So, goodbye. Please, don’t cry. And I will always love you.”
Houston was laid to rest today in a private ceremony at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, N.J. She was buried next to her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003.
Rest in peace Whitney…