*On Feb. 18, 2012, the invitation-only memorial was held for Whitney Houston in her Newark, New Jersey hometown.
Family and close friends gathered at New Hope Baptist Church to pay their respects to the legendary songstress, who had died seven days earlier at a Beverly Hills hotel. Various news outlets streamed the service live. The funeral’s pastor was gospel singer Marvin Winans, while Houston’s cousin Dionne Warwick presided, introducing speakers and singers, and sharing her own thoughts about “Nippy.”
Whitney’s mom Cissy Houston and 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, held onto each other as three police officers escorted Houston’s casket inside. Houston’s ex-husband, Bobby Brown, appeared briefly at the service. He reportedly approached the casket, touched it, and left immediately. Cameras captured outside the church.
Brown later said in a statement that he and his children were asked not to sit with the family, so he decided to leave rather than make a scene.
Among those who performed at the funeral were Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and R. Kelly, who broke down while singing “I Look to You.”
Gospel singers BeBe and CeCe Winans and the Rev. Kim Burrell also paid tribute to Whitney, who first began singing with the church’s gospel choir as a child.
Filmmaker Tyler Perry spoke about several conversations he had with Houston, and praised the “grace that kept on carrying her all the way through. The same grace led her all the way to the top of the charts.”
Actor Kevin Costner, her co-star in “The Bodyguard,” recalled a movie star who second guessed her own superstardom, and “still wondered, ‘Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Will they like me?”‘
Ray J., who spent time with Houston during her last days, broke down crying as Whitney’s casket was carried out to her biggest hit, “I Will Always Love You.” Ray J’s sister Brandy placed her hand on his back to comfort him. Bobbi Kristina began crying, and Houston’s mother could be heard wailing, “My baby!”