MANILA, Philippines – The world said goodbye to music legend Whitney Houston in an emotional service held at the New Hope Baptist Church in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey Saturday, February 18th.
The invite-only memorial lasted over 3 hours, was attended by friends and brought together some of music’s greats. Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, R. Kelly, Dionne Warwick, and Clive Davis were all in attendance.
Houston’s “The Bodyguard” co-star Kevin Costner delivered a humorous but touching eulogy about Houston’s insecurity and eventual triumph.
Behind the scenes, Costner said that he and Houston bonded over the fact that they both grew up in the Baptist church. “The church was the center of our social life and Whitney and I would laugh knowing it was also the place where you could really get into big trouble.”
“It was easy for us to laugh. The church was what we knew. It was our private bond,” he added.
He also talked about her insecurity while auditioning for the part, “The Whitney I knew, despite her success and worldwide fame, 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 revealed that Houston almost didn’t get the role. “ I thought she was the perfect choice, but the red flags came out immediately. I was reminded that this would be her first acting role, we could also think about another singer, maybe somebody white.”
He added, “I told everyone that I had taken notice Whitney was black. The only problem was, I thought she was perfect for what we were trying to do.”
He ended saying the movie would not be the same without her, and that she was the only woman for the role.
“Whitney if you could hear me now, I would tell you, you weren’t just good enough, you were great. You sang the whole damn song without a band. You made the picture what it was. A lot of leading men could have played my part. A lot of guys could have filled that role. But you, Whitney, I truly believe were the only one who could have player Rachel Marron at that time. You weren’t just pretty, you were as beautiful as a woman can be, and people didn’t just like you. They loved you.”
Singer Alicia Keys called Whitney her angel and a beautiful and caring human being. Wiping away tears before singing “Send Me Angel” she recalled Houston was not just an inspiration for her growing up but also a motivator for many young singers of her time.
“In so many ways she reached back to so many people, to so many young artists. She made us feel strong and capable and loved,” Keys said.
Stevie Wonder performed “Love’s In Need of Love Today” while R. Kelly sang “I Look To You,” a song he had written for Whitney’s last album of the same name.
Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown was also present but left even before the service started. He was asked to be reseated 3 times.
Brown’s 15-year marriage with Houston ended in 2007. They have one daughter together, Bobbi Kristina Brown.
Houston’s godmother Aretha Franklin who was also supposed to sing at the event was not feeling well and could not attend the event.
Houston passed away February 11th. Her body was found in the tub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, but a cause for her death has yet to be determined.
She will be laid to rest Sunday, February 19th (US time) next to her father John Russell Houston Jr. at the Fairview Cemetery in her hometown New Jersey. – Rappler.com
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