The late, great Whitney Houston will be laid to rest tomorrow. The funeral service is currently underway in the New Hope Baptist Church in Houston’s home town of Newark. In addition to Whitney’s mother, her daughter, her ex-husband and the rest of her family, stars like Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey and others have arrived to pay tribute to the star. Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder are among some of the names expected to perform, while Houston’s long time friend and mentor Clive Davis will speak. Her co-star in the movie, The Bodyguard Kevin Costner will also address the congregation today. There is one camera in the venue and that will be streamed across the globe today, tonight and for some tomorrow. I’m watching it live on CNN and I’ll be bringing you some of the tweet messages and condolences from the service today. Among the tissues and the tears, we remember and honour one of the greatest voices of our time. RIP Whitney Houston:
@lupingcayisa: The Choir lady leading the Lord is my sheperd has Whitney’s Raves to the T cc
@SwaziDlamini @judith_sephuma #Whitneycnn
@MelanieCarmen: These songs are so moving R.I.P Whitney Houston.
@ShahanR: A fans tribute…his drawing of Whitney. #WHITNEYFUNERAL lockerz.com/s/184998494
19:44 (local time) Donnie McClurkin is now on stage. The congregation is standing, as he sings “Stand” for Whitney.
19:49: Dionne Warwick says a few short words before introducing Tyler Perry.
“God bless you. The Houston family. I know this grief.” He is telling the congregation of how he met Whitney four years ago and how “candid” she was about her life and just before he would step in to give her some words of encouragement, she would say “But the Lord”. He is talking about her grace and how it carried her home, singing for presidents and more. “Whitney Houston loved the Lord”. “Say whatever you want. God was for her and she is resting singing with the angels.”
19:55: BeBe Winans is now on stage. He’s the first one to breakdown on the stage, he was very close to her. He is telling the congregation of how they practiced in her closet and her room before they went on their tour. The song he is singing is a song he wrote for his brother, who passed away when he was 48 too. The irony. The song is called “I Really Miss You” and he says when she entered the church for his brother’s service “She just waved her hand and said family, family and so family is here today to save us”
@CNNshowbiz BeBe gets mourners to laugh. In a true celebration of her life, he sings “I Really Miss You” #WhitneyCNN
20:05: Bishop T.D Jakes is now on stage. “You may think death has won, but it is a lie. Love will last forever for God is love”.
@billboard “I realize the dichotomy that the family faces right now… but you shared her w/ the world, & we thank you,” Bishop T.D. Jakes to family.”
Rev. Kim Burrell is now on stage singing “A Change is gonna Come” because Whitney loved this song. “She was born in Newark” words modified for the beautiful Whitney.
20:17 Kevin Costner “Whitney returns home today to the place where it all began. Dry our tears, suspend our sorrow and perhaps our anger just long enough for our sweet miracle of Whitney. Your mother and I have a lot in common and I know many of you of thinking really?” The congregation laughs. “We both grew up in the Baptist church. It wasn’t as big as this. My grandmother played the piano and she lead the choir.” He recalls his time in church, how he was yanked out for passing notes to his friends, drinking the grape juice. Whitney loved those stories. “It was easy for us to laugh. Church was what we knew”. “Whitney if you could hear me now I’d tell you, you weren’t just good enough”.
“Off you go, Whitney, to your heavenly Father. When you sing before Him, don’t you worry you’ll be good enough.”
20:36: Dionne introduces the wonderful Alicia Keys performs. She tells of how “Mima” was her nickname. She is singing Angel, “Can you send an angel to guide me”. This in light of her saying how Whitney inspired her, Brandy and Monica and other younger singers, “She made us feel strong and capable and loved”
20:46: Clive Davis is now on stage. “I cant tell you how moved, touched, inspired I am today. I feel the great spirit in this great church. It’s helping me with my grief and my heavy heart. “You wait for a voice for a lifetime. And when one person embodies it all, well it takes your breath away when I met her in 1983. Whitney said to Davis on the Tuesday before her death, “Clive I’ll be ready by August”, to which he said “Well Whitney I’m going to hold you to it. Everyone in Heaven is waiting and I know you’re going to raise the roof like nobody before”
21:00: Ray Watson, her Brother-In-Law and bodyguard is up on stage speaking. He has been her bodyguard for over 11 years. Aretha Franklin was expected to speak, but she isn’t well today so Ray has replaced her. “We had some good times. She accepted me as her brother although I was her bodyguard. She called me Uncle Ray in her playful time.”
21:09: Stevie Wonder is now ready to perform. “This is such an emotional moment. I wanted to stop and give all prayers to God for allowing me to be in life the same time as Whitney. And Dionne, Cissy and to all the family I want you to know as millions of people have said, not just in this time, but throughout her career, we loved her so much and we wont stop. What you didn’t know is that in my fantasy I had a little crush on Whitney”. He sings “Love’s In Need of Today”.
21:25: Whitney’s manager and Sister-In-Law Pat Houston is up on stage, “Let the redeemers of the Lord say Hallelujah. Even when she was tired or a bit lost, she gave, and gave and then gave some more. When she did not want to do things, she did anyway and we are so much more grateful for it. You were the rock that held her together professionally. Your wisdom of the industry did not go unnoticed. She had more respect for you on one hand. You gave her hope. Thank you for your love over all these years. She loved you. My partner and my sister, Whitney Elizabeth Houston. There are no words to describe how I feel. You stand, I need you and today I stand. Her legacy that she left behind was music but what she left for you was her love for God.”
21:43: R Kelly takes to the podium to sing Whitney’s “I Look to You” off her last album of the same name. What a fitting tribute.
21:46: Dionne Warwick says, “I would like to share a few words with you that I feel are quite appropriate. Don’t greeve for me for now I’m free I’m following the path God made for me. I took his hands when I heard him call. I turn my back and left it all.”
CeCe Winans then follows this by her tribute “Don’t cry for me” to Whitney.
21:55: Ricky Minor Houston’s Music Director is now on stage. “We were going to take the world by storm. It didn’t take me long to realise how much I love Whitney Houston. That face, that smile. That’s not why I loved Whitney Houston.” He said it could’ve been the hair, the outfits, the grace. “Whitney Houston changed my life forever, by entrusting me with her music career. Why? I believe that God sent her. She was my gift and I was hers.”
22:00 Marvin Winans is called up to lead everyone in prayer. He has now called his extended family up onto the stage. He recalls how he met her in Beverly Hills many years ago. The Winans family is about sing Tomorrow. After their brilliant performance, Marvin headed back to the podium where he preached.
The service ends with a “Let The Church Sing Amen”
That was a lovely, heartfelt service, befitting of who the diva, the talent that Whitney Houston is and despite her untimely passing, she will be remembered forever through her music, her life as a daughter, a mother and friend and a legend. Rest In Peace Whitney Houston.
““I Will Always Love You”
I would only be in your way
So I’ll go
But I know
I’ll think of you every step of
Love you, oohh
My darling you
That is all I’m taking with me
Please don’t cry
We both know I’m not what you
Will always love you
Will always love you
[Instrumental / Sax solo]
life treats you kind
And I hope
you have all you’ve dreamed of
And I wish you joy
But above all this
I wish you love
Will always love you
Will always love you
I, I will always love
Darling I love you