Whitney Houston's Funeral Brought the World to Church

Whitney Houston's Funeral Brought the World to Church

The historic "homegoing" let the world in on the Black Baptist tradition

Kelley L. Carter

by Kelley L. Carter, February 18, 2012

Whitney Houston's Funeral Brought the World to Church

all that He has done.”

Perry said she had a grace that kept on carrying her.

“Whitney Houston loved the Lord. And in every conversation we had over the years it was evident that she loved the Lord,” he said.

Longtime family friend and collaborator BeBe Winans broke down and tearfully when he shared a story about his first major tour with sister CeCe Winans. His story made people laugh, and he found himself chuckling as well when he said of Houston “she decided in the height of her career that she was going to come and sing background to BeBe and CeCe,” he said. Winans said that after he protested, Houston said “you my brother and sister right? And I’m your sister, right? And we love each other right? She said and y’all broke, right? That is the Whitney (that I will miss).”

Rev. Kim Burrell shifted gears. She was to sing “I Believe in You and Me,” but asked right before she performed if she could do another song that she remixed for her longtime pal. She sang a personalized version of Sam Cooke’s “Change is Gonna Come.”

Costner, who co-starred with Houston in 1992’s The Bodygaurd, entertained the audience, talking about he and Houston’s shared background of their Baptist church beginnings. He talked up the “sweet miracle of Whitney,” and talked often to Houston’s mother down in the pew.

“There can be little doubt in this room that she has joined their ranks,” Costner said of Houston’s place in musical history, citing Franklin, Warrick and her mother. He went on to say that the debate will begin about the greatest singers of all time. “It will have little meaning to me if her name is not on it.”

Costner also talked about the burden that comes with fame, a seemingly poignant moment for the audience at the service.

“It was the burden that made her great. And the part that caused her to stumble in the end. Whitney if you could hear me now, I would tell you that 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 believed that you were the only one who could have played Rachel Marron at that time. You weren’t just pretty. You were as beautiful as a woman could be. People didn’t just like you Whitney,” he said. “They loved you.”

There were many tributes like this one from nearly everyone who took centerstage at the service.

Keys, who wiped away tears while sitting behind a piano, talked about their nicknames for one another.

“She crept into everybody’s heart. She was such a beautiful human being. Really, really, caring, beautiful, thoughtful human being. Would call you for no reason at all. Just to say ‘hi.’ That’s rare, I think,” Keys said. “In so many ways, she reached back to so many people. She reached back to me. She reached back to Monica. And Brandy and Jordin and all of these beautiful young artists. So many artists. And made us feel like strong. And capable. And loved. She’s an angel to us.”

Keys sang her tune “Send Me An Angel.” Following her performance, she embraced Houston’s mother and daughter, Bobbi Kristina.

Throughout the service, there wasn’t a beat missed.

Clive Davis, Houston’s mentor, said he was moved and that the spirit in the church was helping him with his grief and his heavy heart.

He talked about spending time with Houston just last week in Beverly Hills.

“We talked non-stop music, a subject that we both … loved. I couldn’t help but reminisce about all that we’d shared together over the years,” Davis said. “In the past, every hit we shared was pure joy. Neither of us could believe the incredible worldwide explosion when it happened. We just felt utter disbelief. I would ask her are you pinching yourself? She never took anything for granted. She was never arrogant. She was always grateful and appreciative.”

Davis said she captured the world forever.

It was an outpouring of devotion for Houston – her passion for music was celebrated, her love of God was pronounced.

Other performers, including Kelly and Wonder, brought the house down with their tributes to Houston.

In his final prayer, Pastor Winans gave the medicine that most needed to hear “we thank you for this life of Whitney Elizabeth Nippy Houston. We thank you that she was a dear friend. And we echo the sentiments of all that have come to show their love. Father, I pray. ... Let us leave here recognizing that Whitney left too soon. Let us leave here impacted by her life. Saying that I want to fiinish what God has started. Let us make you

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