It was a farewell fit for he Queen of Pop. Whitney Houston was laid to rest in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey at a gravesite next to her father who died in 2003. On Saturday, a celebration of her life took place at the very church where her birdsong voice first bellowed in the choir as a young girl – New Hope Baptist Church. The nearly four hour service was streamed online for all to witness and cable network news outlets carried the homegoing services live.
Houston passed away exactly one week ago at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, California just one night before the annual Grammy awards ceremony; and on the eve of record industry mogul Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party.
Reports say Houston was found unconscious in her hotel. When paramedics arrived at the scene they were unable to revive her. Medical Examiners performed and autopsy but are awaiting toxicology reports to determine the exact cause of death. Police reported there were no signs of foul play.
The silenced Pop star is gone too soon – at age 48.
Faithful fans who appreciated Whitney for her dedication to her hometown roots stood outside during her funeral holding signs of support, thanks and condolences all the while the sanctuary was packed with close family, friends and music industry colleagues who gave heart-warming personal tributes in remembrance of the super star who was referred to as a christian, mother, daughter, and friend.
The celebration of life included gospel great Pastor Donny McClurkin who sang his dynamic spiritual “Stand,” at the family’s request. The Winans family paid homage through song and ministry. Clive Davis, who is also Whitney’s Godfather, expressed his gratitude and thanks for Whitney’s love and support- saying her beautiful singing will now continue before the Lord.
In a sweet solo, Alicia Keys thanked Whitney for her love of mentoring and support for the younger generation in the music industry. R. Kelly, who wrote songs for the pop star, sang a beautiful rendition of one of Houston’s latest hits “I Look to You.” Stevie Wonder said Whitney loved his song “A Ribbon In The Sky,” therefore he changed the lyrics just two days before the funeral and shared the melody in dedication to his late friend. Actor Kevin Costner told stories the two shared on the set of Houston’s first film The BodyGuard, and there were many more. Whitney was remembered back home; where obviously her heart’s dedication is still felt.
Adorned before a beautiful golden casket covered with white flowers where the body of the golden voice lay, sat Cissy Houston, mother, and Whitney’s daughter Bobbi Kristina along with a host of relatives and dearest friends. Reports say Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown attended services but left after he reportedly said he was informed there was not enough seating for his additional guests. Reports also indicate Bobbi Brown was torn over the situation and said he’ll continue to pay his personal tribute to his ex-wife.
The heartfelt service ended with Whitney’s recorded song- one of her greatest ever, “I Will Always Love You.” The recording was heard all throughout the church as her casket was gracefully carried out the sanctuary.
Whitney Houston, who received an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities from Grambling State University, was the Greatest Love of All. She’ll be remembered for her dedication to family, friends, fans and music; her witty personality, her drive to satisfy her fans, and her true love of God.
See Whitney in one of her final music videos on the homepage on the SmoothJazzTimes.com YouTube Channel. Her song “I Look To You” is moving and heartfelt by all.
Rest in Peace Whitney.