Whitney Houston’s nearly four-hour memorial service on Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey featured moving speeches from the likes of Tyler Perry and Kevin Costner, along with tearjerker performances from legendary singers like R. Kelly, Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder.
Aretha Franklin couldn’t make it to her goddaughter’s funeral to perform due to leg spasms.
“Regretfully, I am so sorry that I was unable to be with you at Whitney’s service today,” the soul singer said in a statement.
“I had every intention of being there. But unfortunately I had terrible leg spasms and locked leg muscles until 4:00 a.m. this morning following my concert last night, which I’ve been having for the last few days.”
Franklin was missing, but Wonder, Keys, CeCe Winans, BeBe Winans and Kelly did a good job of taking her place.
Alicia Keys sings “Send Me An Angel”
Singer Keys named Houston as one of her influences in music and thanked her with a stirring tribute.
“We called each other Meema,” Keys recalled. “She was such a beautiful, caring human being. She would call you for no reason at all but just to say hi. And that’s rare I think, sometimes.”
“I feel like in so many ways she reached back to me and to Michael and Brandy and Jordin [Sparks] and all these young artists and made us feel strong and capable and loved,” she continued. “I think she is an angel to us. She has been an angel to us.”
Stevie Wonder sings “Ribbons in the Sky” and “Love’s In Need of Love Today”
Wonder managed to make the mournful crowd smile with his memories of Houston.
“In my fantasy world I had a crush on Whitney,” he joked. “I understand that ‘Ribbons in the Sky’ is one of the ones that she liked a lot.”
“What God gives is never a coincidence and more than a happenstance,” he sang in the emotional song. “Who can lose with God on our side. And no more, Whitney, do you have to cry. You will always be our ribbon in the sky. And angel from God’s choir of love. Whitney an angel from the choir. From God’s choir of love.”
The attendees gave him a standing ovation before he launched into his song, “Love’s In Need Of Love Today,” with the assistance of the church choir.
R. Kelly sings “I Look to You”
Singer R. Kelly gave the most emotional performance of the memorial. The R&B singer struggled through a performance of the song he wrote for Houston’s 2009 album, “I Look To You.” His voice was strong, but broke with emotion in several parts.
Image courtesy WENN.com
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