Saturday, February 18, 2012

Whitney Houston Funeral Recap

[UPDATE: The funeral service has ended, but you can watch it in its entry in the video, below.] A week after her death, the world says farewell to superstar Whitney Houston. About 1,500 guests -- including Oprah, Brandy, Monica and Beyoncé and Jay Z -- will attend the private, invitation-only funeral at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. But, you can watch it here live. The ceremony will feature performances by Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, R Kelly, Kim Burrell and Aretha Franklin. Whitney's Bodyguard co-star Kevin Costner and her musical mentor Clive Davis are scheduled to speak; Marvin Winans will deliver the eulogy. Following the funeral service, Whitney will be buried at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, NJ next to her father, John Russell Houston, Jr., who died in 2003.

This is the video of the funeral service.

What Had Happened:

3:43pm: As the casket is exiting the church, "I Will Always Love You" is playing. So emotional. Such a beautiful service filled with laughs and tears. May Whitney rest in peace.

3:38pm: Looks like it's a wrap. Flowers are being taken away. Everyone, except the family, is asked to remain standed.

3pm: Pastor Marvin Winans presents the eulogy. He promises he won't speak for long, but he's been waiting "all day." He brought his twin brother, Carvin, and the rest of his family on stage had them sing "Tomorrow", a song of of theirs Whitney sung way back when.

2:54pm: Whitney's music director Rickey Minor. Wait, he's verging on the point of vein inappropiate, talking about how he looooooooved Whitney and how incredible pretty she was. He loved her hairstyles and outfits, too. Whitney would shot down his ideas, but he wold tell her "you'e gonna do it and you're gonna love it an she would say, 'is that so.'" He says their watershed moment was the Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl. "Because you were there, Whitney. I'm here."

2:48pm: Next up to sing, CeCe Winans. She's singing "Don't Cry For Me" and the last song Whitney sung, "Yes, Jesus Loves Me."

2:45pm: Dionne reads a poem about how she feels about her departed Nippy.

2:41pm: On the verge of tears, R Kelly sings "I Look to You."

2:24pm: Patrcia Houston, Whitney's manager, sister-in-law says Whitney's life was "misunderstood, even by herself....Even when she was tired or a bit lost, she gave and gave and gave and gave ..when she did not want do things, she did them anyway." She tells Cissy she did everything she could to heal Whitney, but Whitney. LA Reid was Whitney's "industry uncle." To fans, she would dedicate her last tour to fans "through all the weight gain and stress, she finished her tour like a champion." Filming "Spakle" was some of the happiest times in Whitney's life. "She put the 'spark' in Sparkle and Krissi that was for you." She also thanked Oprah and Diane Sawyer -- which was odd. She says the last conversation she and Whitney had was at the Beverly Hilton the Tuesday before her death and Whitney concerned about information she heard about her (Whitney).

2:23pm: Looks like Cissy Houston is being escorted out of the church by one of those "nurses".

2:08pm: Stevie Wonder says he had a crush on Whitney. Sang a special rendition of "Ribbon in the Sky." [Here's a photo, too, of one of the many "nurses" milling around the church.]

2:01pm: Moving right along, Ray Watson, Whitney's brother-in-law and bodyguard of 11 years, says Whitney took a Bible wherever she went. "This is not time, this is a glad time," he says.

2pm: Uh-oh, Dionne -- who's the emcee -- introduces Aretha Franklin, without knowing she's not there.

1:45pm: Clive Davis, Whitney's industry father, he lost his mother when he was a teenager, his mom was 47 when she died and he his dad passed the following year. he say she was a"left an orphan, no money." In 1983, Whitney "shattered" him when she sang The Greatest Love of All. They both spoke about music, a subject they both loved. She "lived music" and was a "natural genius at interpreting songs." He says there will perhaps never been another performance of her rendition of the Star-spangled Banner. "When I needed her, she was there. She was there for me. An eternally loyal friend." He urged Bobbi Kris to be proud of her mother because she loved her so much. "She'll forever be looking after you and will never let go of your hand." Last Tuesday, Whitney came to see him and played him her new song from Sparkle and he played songs he wanted her to record. I want don't know I'm getting in shape, I'm swimming an hour a day. I am committed to get my high notes back. No cigarettes. I will be ready by August." (He keeps referring to hotel rooms/suites as "hotel bungalows." Very rich.)

1:35pm: Alicia Keys says Whitney was "beautiful human being" who would call her "no reason but to say 'hi.'"

1:16pm: Actor Kevin Costner got a huge applause. He says "I Will Always Love You" wasn't originally supposed to be in "The Bodyguard" -- "What Becomes of a Broken Heart" was. He and Whitney had a lot in common: They both grew up in the Baptist church, his grandmother played the piano and led the choir and his aunts sang in the choir. He says he postponed filming of the movie for a year until Whitney's tour was over. Still, she needed to screen test for the role. He says Whitney's initial test was a disaster after she put on too much makeup, which ran down her face under the lights. He asked her why she did it. She said, “I just wanted to look my best.” She went back in with a new face, “and the studio fell in love with her.”

1:10pm: Kim Burrell performs "A Change Is Gonna Come." Whitney's favorite song. She changed the words to fit the occasion.

1:05pm: Bishop TD Jakes says he met Whitney for the first time on the set of "Sparkle." He says no matter how famous you are, death is inevitable, but "love is greater than death." "Death has not won, your tears may flow, your pain my come, the flowers may whither, the phones may stop ringing -- don't you dare think that death has won....Love will last forever, for God is love."

12: 55pm: BeBe Winans brings his sister to the pulpit and says he's going to miss the "crazy Whitney." She even joked about singing background for them. He then gave an emotional performance of a song he originally wrote for, and sung at, his brother's funeral.

12:50pm: Tyler Perry is preaching. He says she had "a grace that kept on carrying her and she loved the Lord. He says she's now "singing with the angles."

12:49pm: Dionne Warwick introduces Tyler Perry.

12: 40pm: Pastor Donnie McClurkin is singing.

12:20pm: Invocation time.

12:19pm: The mayor of Newark, Corey Booker, is speaking.

12:17pm: New Hope's musical director, A. Curtis Farrow is laying down the law. No cell phones, no pictures and no recording. "In cases of emergency" exit in the rear. (Addendum: Farrow was probably speaking to Bobby and telling him and his entourage to leave.)

12:10pm: We're in church! This choir is feeling it.


Addendum: Me missed this part. Ray J, Whitney's on/off boyfriend, was overcome with emotions as pallbearers removed her casket.


UPDATE, Feb. 20: Fans are flocking to Fairview Cemetery to visit Whitney's grave.

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