Kevin Costner delivers moving speech at Whitney Houston's funeral
Kevin Costner, who was Houston's co-star in the 1992 film "The Bodyguard," was among those who spoke and performed at the singer's funeral at a New Jersey church where she showcased her singing skills as a child.
Houston's memorial service took place at the New Hope Baptist Church in the city of Newark in the singer's native state of New Jersey. Costner opened his speech talking about what he had in common with Houston, including their Baptist church-going childhoods.
Update: 2/19/2012 9:00 a.m. PT -- We can no longer offer video clips from Whitney Houston's funeral service as the Houston family only granted permission for 24 hours.
"Whitney returns home today to the place where it all began, and I urge us all, inside and outside, across the nation and 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," Costner said. "Never forgetting that Cissy and Bobbi Kristina are sitting among us. Your mother and I had a lot in common. I know many at this moment are thinking, 'Really? She's a girl, you're a boy. You're white. She's black. We heard you like to sing, but our sister could really sing. So what am I talking about? Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, they don't have anything in common at all. Well, you'd be wrong about that. We both grew up in the Baptist church."
Costner recalled asking Houston to star opposite him in what would be her first movie, "The Bodyguard" and though there were reasons to be worried about the casting, he remained confident in the decision.
"At the height of her fame as a singer I asked her to be my co-star in a movie called 'The Bodyguard.' I thought she was the perfect choice, but the red flags came out immediately," Costner recalled. "I was reminded that this would be her first acting role. 'We could also think about another singer,' was a suggestion. Maybe somebody white. Nobody ever said it out loud, but it was a fair question, it was. There would be a lot riding on this - maybe a more experienced person was the way to go. It was clear, I needed to think about this. I told everyone that I had taken notice that Whitney was black. The only problem was, I thought she was perfect for what we were trying to do."
He also said that Houston lacked confidence in her performance in the film, but the 57-year-old actor assured the congregation that she was the only woman for the job.
"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 - a lot of guys could have filled that role, but you, Whitney, I truly believe were the only one that could have played Rachel Mirren at that time," Costner continued.
"You set the bar so high that professional singers, your own colleagues, they don't want to sing that little country song. What would be the point?" Costner added. "Now, the only ones who sings your songs are young girls like you, who are dreaming of being you some day. And so to you, Bobbi Kristina and to all those young girls who are dreaming that dream, that maybe thinking, are they good enough? I think Whitney would tell you, 'Guard your bodies, guard the precious miracle of your own life, and then sing your hearts out,' knowing that there's a lady in heaven who is making God himself wonder how he created something so perfect. So off you go, Whitney, off you go. Escorted by an army of angels to your heavenly father, and when you sing before him, don't worry... you'll be good enough."
After the memorial service, the iconic pop singer will be laid to rest 15 miles away, at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, according to her death certificate, which was obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com. Her father was buried there after he died in 2003.