Whitney Houston Funeral Recap
Whitney Houston was honored by friends and family at New Hope Baptists Church in Newark, N.J. on Saturday, February 18.
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.
Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder were among those who performed at the service. Speakers included Kevin Costner, Tyler Perry, music mogul Clive Davis, who helped launch her career, gospel stars Kim Burrell and Donnie McClurkin, musical director Rickey Minor and Cece Winans, a gospel singer who is also the godmother of Houston's daughter. Gospel singer and pastor Marvin Winans gave the eulogy.
Guests also included Queen Latifah, Brandy and her brother Ray J, who made headlines after being romantically linked to Houston. Ray J recently opened up about their relationship and though he didn't confirm whether he was ever romantically involved, he said he had "a lot of love" for the singer and was seen tearfully reaching out for his friend as her casket was brought down the aisle of the church.
The service opened with a choir of gospel singers and closed with Houston's 1992 signature hit, "I Will Always Love You."
Houston was pronounced dead at age 48 at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California on February 11, a day before the 2012 Grammy Awards.
Houston's family decided against a public memorial, instead electing to allow the service to be broadcast live by television networks and online.
FRIENDS CELEBRATE WHITNEY HOUSTON
Houston's mentor Clive Davis told the congregation, "You wait for a voice like that for a lifetime. You wait for a face like that, a smile like that, a presence like that for a lifetime. And when one person embodies it all, well it takes your breath away."
Houston's cousin, soul singer Dionne Warwick introduced several soul, gospel and pop music performers including Alicia Keys, CeCe Winans, Kim Burrell, Donnie McClurkin, R. Kelly and Stevie Wonder.
Alicia Keys spoke before her performance of the song, "Prelude to a Kiss" and told the congregation, "It was so obvious the way she just crept into everybody's heart."
Stevie Wonder performed "Ribbon in the Sky" and "Love's in Need of Love Today." The singing legend told the audience, "In my fantasy world, I had a little crush on Whitney."
Actor and director Tyler Perry, who reportedly supplied the plane that flew her body from Los Angeles to her native New Jersey earlier this week, said that it was Houston's grace which brought her to the top of the charts and now the singer "is resting, singing with the angels."
BOBBY BROWN LEAVES THE SERVICE
Houston's ex-husband Bobby Brown, 43, was spotted leaving the singer's funeral shortly after service began.
He issued a statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com following the service which read, "My children and I were invited to the funeral of my ex-wife Whitney Houston. We were seated by security and then subsequently asked to move on three separate occasions. I fail to understand why security treated my family this way and continue to ask us and no one else to move. Security then prevented me from attempting to see my daughter Bobbi-Kristina."
"In light of the events, I gave a kiss to the casket of my ex-wife and departed as I refused to create a scene," the statement continued. "My children are completely distraught over the events. This was a day to honor Whitney. I doubt Whitney would have wanted this to occur. I will continue to pay my respects to my ex-wife the best way I know how."
Houston married Brown in 1992 and filed a domestic abuse charge against him the following year. The pair got divorced in 2007. Houston had sole custody of the couple's only daughter, 18-year-old Bobbi Kristina Brown.
KEVIN COSTNER REMEMBERS WHITNEY HOUSTON
Kevin Costner, who was Houston's co-star in the 1992 film "The Bodyguard," was among those who spoke and performed at the funeral. His emotional speech touched on their shared childhood experience growing up in Baptist churches, casting her in her iconic first role and her unwarranted insecurities.
"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.
"Whitney, if you could hear me now, I would tell you, you weren't just good enough, you were great," 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? Now, the only ones who sing 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 are 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," Costner continued. "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."
WHITNEY HOUSTON LAID TO REST
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.
Investigators have not revealed what killed Houston, who was found unconscious and underwater in a bathtub by a member of her staff. Her autopsy has been completed but the results will not be released until a toxicology report is produced, which could take up to eight weeks.
The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office recently issued subpoenas for Houston's medical and pharmacy records in a routine move that could speed up its investigation. Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said "a number of doctors" were contacted.
He had previously confirmed that bottles of prescription drugs were found near Houston's body on the day she died. A source close to the matter told OnTheRedCarpet.com that one of them was the antibiotic amoxicillin.
Mixed with alcohol, some medications can cause death. It is unclear what substances Houston ingested on the night she died. The singer had struggled with addictions to drugs such as cocaine and pills and alcohol for years. She relapsed and returned to rehab in May. Witnesses say they saw Houston drinking champagne the night before her death.
Two days before she died, she celebrated and performed at a Los Angeles nightclub in what marked her final performance, although it is unclear whether she consumed alcohol (check out photos and video from the event).