People throng the streets outside New Hope Baptist Church, where Whitney Houston was being remembered with speeches and songs.
Whitney Houston remembered during emotional funeral By Tina Susman L.A. Times NEWARK, N.J. — In a fitting tribute to a musical life, Whitney Houston was remembered Saturday at the Baptist church where she once sang in the choir, on the gritty streets of Newark where fans belted out her hits, and from the preacher’s podium where a constellation of stars offered memories in words and song as they bid farewell to one of their own. Although New Hope Baptist Church was filled to capacity with many celebrities — Kevin Costner, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder — the invitation-only funeral service resonated with gospel hymns and preaching that one pastor said “brought the world to church.” When the congregation’s whiteclad gospel choir sang, many of those in attendance waved their
hands. They responded with applause when a clergy member said: “Glory to God! God be praised!” Costner, among the first of 16 speakers and singers, remembered Houston as a “sweet miracle” and spoke of having to battle studio executives who shied away from pairing him — a white leading man — with a black woman in “The Bodyguard,” the romantic tale of a pop star named Rachel Marron seeking protection from a stalker. “I thought she was perfect for what we were trying to do,” Costner said of his co-star, adding that he also had to push an insecure Houston to dive into what would be her first starring role. “You made the picture what it was,” said Costner, his voice growing husky. “A lot of guys could have played my part, but I believe you were the only one who
could have played Rachel Marron at that time,” he said. “You were as beautiful as a woman could be.” The service was described by her family as a “home-going,” an expression that reflects their Christian belief that in death a soul returns home to God in heaven. “We are here today, hearts broken, but yet with God’s strength we celebrate the life of Whitney Houston,” said Pastor Joe Carter as her flower-draped silver casket was carried to the front of the church. “Whitney, you are the only one who could bring all of us together. Whitney, today is your day. We celebrate.” Eulogies ranged from heartwrenching to humorous, with bits of entertainment biz trivia thrown in.
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Life Achievements • Recipient of 20 American Music Awards, more than any other solo artist • Sales: 140 million albums, 50 million singles • Fourth best-selling female artist in the U.S. • Listed by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time
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