The funeral of singer Whitney Houston at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey was attended by some of the nation's most celebrated musicians and actors on Saturday. It was also broadcast live on national television.
The 1,500 “invitation-only” guests included dozens of celebrities and musicians including Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Tyler Perry, Alicia Keys, Kevin Costner and the late singer’s ex-husband Bobby Brown. It was a celebration of her life, with tributes, songs and stories.
The church holds special significance because it’s where Houston first sang as a child. Houston, who passed away on Feb. 11, was 48.
Kevin Costner, her co-star in “The Bodyguard,” said he and Houston had a lot in common and that the church "was our private bond."
He said despite her fame "the Whitney I knew still wondered am I good enough, am I pretty enough, it was the burden that made her great and... what made her stumble in the end."
Costner added, it was "the inexplicable burden that comes with fame - call it doubt, call it fear - I've had mine.''
A teary Alicia Keys spoke about her friendship with Houston and sang a tribute to her friend.
"She would call you for no reason at all, just to say Hi. That's rare," said Keys. "I think in so many ways she reached back to me, and all these beautiful young artists and made us feel strong and capable and loved. So I think she's an angel to us."
Her mentor Clive Davis said "she never took anything for granted, she was always grateful."
Tyler Perry remembered Houston's grace.
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Family friend Aretha Franklin said on NBC’s “Today” show on Friday, that she had believed Houston has overcome her demons. She said Whitney, “looked fresh, she looked healthy and she looked gorgeous. And I thought, 'Yes, she has conquered her challenges and she's on the way.'"
Meanwhile, Bobby Brown briefly attended the funeral after spending time with his and Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina. She was admitted to the hospital earlier this week for stress and anxiety.
Brown said, "We continue to provide love and support to Bobbi Kristina. She is dealing with the tragedy of her mother's death and would prefer to do it outside of the public eye. I ask again that our privacy be respected."
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The funeral ended with a recording of Houston's "I Will Always Love You" as her casket was taken from the church and the guests poured out behind it.
Close family friend Aretha Franklin had been expected to sing at the service but was reportedly too ill to attend.
Whitney Houston is to be buried on Sunday at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, New Jersey.