Whitney Houston Remembered, Life Celebrated By Family And Friends At New Hope Baptist Church

NEWARK, NJ (CBSNewYork) — Some of the biggest names in entertainment packed the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark on Saturday to say goodbye to music legend Whitney Houston.

“We’re here today, hearts broken. But with God’s strength, we celebrate the life of Whitney Houston,” Pastor Joe Carter said at the start of the service. “Whitney, today is your day.”

VIDEO: Click Here To Watch The Full Funeral Service

Houston’s flower-covered casket was placed at the center of the church where the superstar got her start as a child singing in the choir.

As guests arrived, the choir dressed in white and gold sang quietly “Whitney, Whitney, Whitney.” In the front row, Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina clutched her grandmother, Cissy Houston.

PHOTOS: Whitney Houston Funeral | Whitney Houston’s Life Remembered | NJ Remembers Whitney Houston

Mourners, there by invitation only, included an all-star roster of music and Hollywood celebrities, including Clive Davis, Kevin Costner, Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Elton John, Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Dionne Warwick and Chaka Khan as well as Rev. Jesse Jackson and Gov. Chris Christie, among many others.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports

“And just made us feel like strong, and capable and loved,” Keys said.

EXTRA: See The Full Schedule For Houston’s Service 

The gospel choir opened Houston’s funeral in song. Mourners were given a program called “Celebrating the life of Whitney Elizabeth Houston, a child of God.” It featured a picture of Houston looking upward on the front and pictures of her as a child with her mother and of her daughter, Bobbi Kristina.

One of the first to take the stage was Newark Mayor Corey Booker who said while it is a sad day, it’s also a day to remember Houston.

“We are here to mourn our loss and celebrate her life,” he said. “God is in Heaven and with Him is one of His angels, Whitney Houston.”

Filmmaker Tyler Perry said Houston had a miraculous life and “a grace that kept on carrying her all the way through. It was the same grace that carried her home.”

“And before I could get anything out to encourage her, she would say ‘but the Lord’,” said Perry.

Kevin Costner, Houston’s co-star in “The Bodyguard,” teared up as he spoke of his longtime friend. He said Houston overcame doubts about herself to become great.

“The Whitney I knew despite her success and worldwide fame still wondered ‘am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Will they like me?’ It was the burden that made her great and the part that made her stumble in the end,” he said. “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 you worry — you’ll be good enough.”

Costner told mourners the story behind the film and the song she made a hit.

“It wasn’t supposed to be in the movie. The  first choice was ‘What Becomes Of A Broken Heart’?” he said.

“Whitney, if you could hear me now, I would  tell you, you were not just good enough, you were  great,” he added.

Music mogul Clive Davis spoke of Whitney’s love of music and her rise to stardom.

“You wait for a voice like that for a lifetime,” he said.

But he also had a message for Houston’s daughter.

“Bobbi Kristina, always be proud of your mother,” he said. “She loved you so very much.”

Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, CeCe Winans and R. Kelly also took the stage and paid tribute to the superstar in song.

Houston’s godmother Aretha Franklin was scheduled to sing, but did not attend. Franklin’s representative said she was sick and decided not to go.

Fans were kept far away from the funeral. A large fence was placed around the church to keep the media and fans from getting too close.

But since the news of her shocking death broke last Saturday, her fans have been mourning the loss of their icon and gathered as close as they could Saturday to honor her life.

“It’s devastating,” said fan Faye Shannon from Pleasantville, New Jersey. “She was a beautiful person, always has been, outspoken.”

Some fans returned to the place entrusted with Whitney Houston’s body for one final night, the Whigham Funeral Home.

“She’s home. She’s home and I’m very grateful to her mother and her family for allowing it to happen this way, that the community and Newark and around the world can have closure with her because she was like family,” Peggy Lacy of Newark told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reports

“Continue to rejoice because as we saw earlier today it was more or less a returning home it was a celebration for her, so we can go ahead and put aside our sorrows but she’ll always forever remain in our hearts,” said Jahrell Thompson of Hillside, N.J.

It’s been one week since Houston’s death. The 48-year-old singer was found lifeless in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel last weekend.

She was last seen the Thursday before looking disheveled and there were reports she was drinking heavily in the days leading up to her death.

But fans are remembering her music instead of her person struggles.

“I just wanted to be near her,” said fan Marie Altabelli from Bloomfield, New Jersey. “I never got to see her alive.”

Hedwig Bentol flew into Miami with her friend and left flowers and balloons at the church.

“We know that she didn’t know us, but we felt like we knew her through her voice, through her music and that beautiful smile she has,” said Bentol.

As Houston’s casket was carried out of the church, one of her most famous songs, “I Will Always Love You,” was played. Houston’s mother Cissy, had to be helped as she walked up the aisle as Houston’s daughter began to cry.

Houston will be buried at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield next to her father, John Russell Houston.

Please share your thoughts below…

  • Greetings From Aunt Jemima's Plantation

    Cissy Houston be flipping those flapjacks on the plantation hey that be Mammie bringing the family back home to the cotton fields. Y’all come back now ya hear?

  • Aunt Jemima's Homestyle Negroe Hotcakes

    This project low life nappy head negroe hoe needs to go back to the plantation cotton fields where Mammie came from. Maybe she’s related to Felix the Cat, he was a Chicago project negroe too.

  • june

    Whitney was love and she will be missed. R. I. P

  • Anthony Gafoor

    Lord forgive the haters for they know not what they do and say. Whitney was a beautiful soul whose music gave joy to millions. She may not have been perfect but who is. May her soul rest in peace.

    • toy

      People can be so ignorant!! I pray for them too because it’s sad to hear some of the things people have to say. Someone lost a mother. Someone lost a child. Many lost a friend. RIP Whitney I will remeber her for the beautiful person that she truly was.

  • kami rader

    Our flag of the United States of America does NOT represent a once extremely talented singer that made the personal choice as an adult to become a crack addict which ultimately lead to her death. That is NOT what our flag represents therefore it should NOT be flown at half mast!
    Understand what the meaning of our flag does represent and get a grip on reality people! This is a much bigger concern……..our flag should only be lowered for those who are willing to make and many have made the sacrafices with their own life for you and I! freedom is never free and the men and women serving in our US Military, Firefighters and Police Officers make those sacrafices for us everyday! These men and women deserve the respect of our flag being lowered at half mast and only for them!

  • 1uniquemonique

    Why was Whitney treated as if she was a goddess or the “First Lady?” She was an alkie and a junkie. Once an addict, always an addict!!!!

  • karen

    can we now please resume normal programming. 10 minutes at the top of the 6pm news was not warranted. she was from new jersey and a part of the entertainment world. may she rest in peace, and her daughter have a long and fulfilling life.

  • Amy Winehouse: I'M NOT DEAD! IT WAS A HOAX!


  • Amy Winehouse: I'M NOT DEAD! IT WAS A HOAX!


    • Fed up with people stuck on the STUPID dial

      all I can “say” is.. Shut up. Such simple banter. There are more people than those you’ve listed that give their lives for the sake of others. But, have you opinion and give it a break..

  • Ben Bairrington

    RIP Whitney.

    You entertained millions with a voice made for an angel.


  • Love NYC

    Speechless. Silent tears for yet another senseless loss.

    • BumblesForPresident


  • ace11

    What time do the riots begin?

    • Fed up with people stuck on the STUPID dial

      Ace11.. you have limited brain matter.

    • bitch

      ! pm are u ready

  • Tina

    I simply knew her as the “Voice”. She was such a gifted singer..Whitney I sincerely loved your person. Rest in the Lord’s bossom my favourite…We will miss you loads but God knows best…

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