The coffin holding the remains of singer Whitney Houston is carried to a hearse after funeral services at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012. Houston died last Saturday at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., at the age 48. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — After all the testimonials from relatives and friends, the songs from legends and pop stars, the preaching and even laughter, the raw emotion of Whitney Houston’s funeral came down to just one moment: The sound of her own voice.
As the strains of her biggest record, “I Will Always Love You,” filled the New Hope Baptist Church at the end of the nearly four-hour service Saturday and her silver-and-gold casket was lifted in the air, the weight of the moment was too much for her mother to bear.
Gospel singer Cissy Houston wailed, “My baby! My baby!” as she was held up by two women and led out of the church behind her daughter’s body.
A few steps behind her was the pop icon’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, also crying uncontrollably as she was comforted by Houston’s close friend, singer Ray J.
It was the most searing scene on a day with mixed moods as family, friends and a list of celebrities — sometimes one and the same — came to the humble New Hope Baptist Church, where Whitney Houston first wowed a congregation, to remember one of music’s legends, but also a New Jersey hometown girl.
Houston died the previous Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif., on the eve of the Grammys at the age of 48.
She is to be buried Sunday next to her father, John Houston, in nearby Westfield, N.J.
Her death marked the end of a life of stunning achievement. Blessed with a voice of great power and beauty, Houston became one of pop music’s most successful artists over a career that spanned nearly three decades and segued into film with hits like Login to read more