STARS, family and friends mourned Whitney Houston in a spirited funeral service at her hometown church yesterday, a week after the sudden her death whose great voice made her one of the biggest pop stars of her era.
A choir had guests swaying to gospel music in the crowded New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where Houston first honed her wide vocal range as a young choir singer with her mother Cissy Houston, a back-up singer for Aretha Franklin.
“Whitney returns home today to the place where it all began,” said actor Kevin Costner, who starred opposite Houston in the 1992 hit film The Bodyguard.
He urged those around the world to “dry our tears, suspend our sorrow – and perhaps our anger – just long enough, just long enough to remember the sweet miracle of Whitney.”
Houston, who died in a Beverly Hills hotel room last week, recorded stirring love songs and vibrant dance tunes during a 30-year career that peaked with her 1992 signature hit I Will Always Love You and paved the way for a generation of singers that followed her.
During the service her cousin and famed soul singer Dionne Warwick introduced a host of soul, gospel and pop music greats from the past and present, including Alicia Keys who said “it was so obvious the way she just crept into everybody’s heart” before performing the song Prelude to a Kiss.
Influential Hollywood actor and producer Tyler Perry said Houston’s “grace that led her all the way to the top of the charts,” and that “she is resting, singing with the angels.”
Gospel singers who performed at the service included Kim Burrell and Donnie Mcclurkin who sang Stand while the choir and church stood and swayed.
Many of Houston’s fans in the past several days have left flowers, cards and balloons dedicated to the singer who became a global star with her 1985 debut album that included the hits
Saving All My Love For You, How Will I
Know and Greatest Love Of All. There was a heavy police presence outside and streets were cordoned off.
REST IN PEACE: Whitney Houston hearse arrives at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey yesterday.
SHAME: Bobby Brown, is denied entrance to the funeral service of ex-wife Whitney Houston yesterday.