Whitney Houston’s loved ones gathered to say farewell to the legendary singer they called “Nippy” at a private funeral in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey, on Saturday. Her fans across the world were able to view the homegoing service, which was broadcast globally from the New Hope Baptist Church, where Whitney grew up.
Following remembrances from her family and friends including Pastor Marvin Winans, Kevin Costner, Clive Davis, and cousin Dionne Warwick, some of music’s greatest voices performed emotional tributes to “The Voice” including Alicia Keys, R. Kelly, Stevie Wonder, Kim Burrell, and the Winans family.
Alicia Keys fought back tears as she shared memories of the woman she affectionately called Meema. “I feel like in so many ways, she reached back to so many people,” said Alicia, who sang “Send Me an Angel.” “She reached back to me, she reached back to Monica and Brandy and Jordin [Sparks] and all these beautiful young artists, and made us feel strong and capable and loved. She’s an angel to us and she’s been an angel to us. I think we’ve been sent an angel for a long time.”
Stevie Wonder personalized his classic “Ribbon in the Sky” for his dear friend. “This is such an emotional moment,” said Wonder. “I want to just stop and give all praise to God for just allowing me to be in life at the same time as Whitney.”
A visibly shaken R. Kelly performed “I Look to You,” the song he penned for Whitney’s 2009 album. “We love you, Whitney. Rest in peace,” he said.
Other celebrities paying their respects included Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Tyler Perry, Mariah Carey, L.A. Reid, Monica, Brandy, Ray J, and Diane Sawyer.