Whitney Houston’s Funeral: Live Blog

Feb 18, 2012 8:50am
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Bobbi Kristina arriving at Whitney Houston's funeral. Credit: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images.

3:43 p.m. ET: “I Will Always Love You” plays as Whitney’s casket is carried out.

3:41 p.m. ET: The service appears to be over. They’re figuring out logistics of getting the casket out of the church and clearing out the packed house. ”As you can see, we have more stars here than the Grammys,” the man at the podium says. “That says something.”

3:38 p.m. ET: Prayer turns to song — the choir is singing “Amen.”

3:36 p.m. ET: Whitney’s golden casket is covered with flowers — the arrangement is almost as big as the casket itself.

3:34 p.m. ET: Winans appears to be wrapping up his eulogy. He asks everyone to bow their heads for a prayer.

3:12 p.m. ET: Marvin Winans reveals that N.J. governor Chris Christie is at the church. He thanks Christie for standing by his decision to lower the state’s flags to half mast today.

3:08 p.m. ET: Now the whole Winans family is performing “Tomorrow.”

2:59 p.m. ET: Pastor Marvin Winans, a Houston family friend, is delivering Whitney’s official eulogy. He thanks Cissy Houston for her willingness to “forget about everything else” and have the service at their family church.

2:53 p.m. ET: Ricky Minor, Whitney’s musical director, takes over the podium. He met Whitney when she was 18: “It didn’t take me long to realize that I love Whitney Houston. … What a voice. Not a voice. The voice.”

2:48 p.m. ET: Cece Winans, Bobbi Kristina’s Godmother, is singing one of her biggest hits: “Don’t Cry for Me.”

2:45 p.m. ET: Dionne Warwick, who’s emceed much of the services, is now speaking.

2:41 p.m. ET: No speech from R. Kelly. He launches into song — Whitney’s “I Look to You.”

2:37 p.m. ET: Patricia’s last conversation with Whitney was at the Beverly Hilton. “She was approaching her 50s and it was time for her to live for Whitney,” she says.

2:33 p.m. ET: Patricia says the “six weeks of filming ‘Sparkle’ were some of the happiest times of her life.”

2:30 p.m. ET: Patricia Houston is the first to suggest that Whitney’s demons may have been her downfall. “To my mother in law,” she says, referring to Cissy Houston, “yes you did everything you could, but the choice was always hers.”

2:25 p.m. ET: Patricia Houston, Whitney’s sister-in-law, has taken the mike to speak. “Today the world is celebrating this magnificent women,” she says. “When she was successful, she did win some unfaithful friends and enemies,” she adds,”but Whitney succeeded anyway.”

2:17 p.m. ET: Stevie Wonder’s the first performer to do more than one song. He’s launched into “Love’s In Need of Love Today.”

2:11 p.m. ET: Stevie’s also singing a song he penned about Whitney. He calls her voice “the gift from heaven.”

2:08 p.m. ET: Time for Stevie Wonder. “This is such an emotional moment,” he begins.

2:03 p.m. ET: Ray Watson, Whitney’s brother in law and one of her bodyguards, it up at the podium sharing his favorite Whitney anecdotes.

1:59 p.m. ET: Dionne Warwick announces Aretha Franklin, but Franklin’s not at the church. She says, “She loves Whitney like she was born to her.”

1:57 p.m. ET: Clive reveals that Whitney told him, last week, that she was newly committed to her health. She was swimming and doing vocal exercises. “I’m commited to get my high notes back, no cigarettes,” he remembers her saying. “Clive, I’ll be ready by August.”

1:56 p.m. ET: Clive calls out to Whitney’s daughter: “Bobbi Kristina, you too, always, always be proud of your mother. She loved you so very much.”

1:51 p.m. ET: “She listened to each song carefully, sitting on the carpet,” Davis says about Whitney’s process. “It wasn’t long before she stood before me and totally owned each song, finding meaning that I don’t think the composers even suspected was there.”

1:46 p.m. ET: Clive Davis is up, the record exec. who discovered Whitney. “You wait for a voice like that for a lifetime,” he says.

1:42 p.m. ET: Keys sings, “Whitney’s an angel.”

1:35 p.m. ET: Alicia Keys wipes away tears as she sits down at the piano. They had nicknames for each other — Mema.

1:34 p.m. ET: Costner talked for nearly 20 minutes. He choked up at the end: “Off you go Whitney, off you go. Escorted by an army of angels to your heavenly father. When you sing before him, don’t you worry. You’ll be good enough.” Click here for more on his tribute.

1:25 p.m. ET: Costner on casting Whitney in “The Bodyguard:” “I thought she was the perfect choice but the red flags came out immediately. … I was reminded that this would be her first acting role. You could also think about another singer, was the suggestion — maybe somebody white. Nobody ever said it out loud, but it was a fair question, it was. There would be a lot riding on this. Maybe a more experienced actor was the way to go.”

1:19 p.m. ET: Costner talks about acting up in church as a kid, passing notes and giggling with friends. His dad dragged him out: “I believe even the preacher prayed for me.”

1:18 p.m. ET: Costner says he and Whitney had a lot in common — religion: “We both grew up in the Baptist church. … My grandmother played the piano and she led the choir. Her two daughters, my mom and my aunt, sang in it.”

1:17 p.m. ET: Costner: “The song, ‘I Will Always Love You,’ almost wasn’t. It wasn’t supposed to be in the movie. The first choice was ‘What Becomes of a Broken Heart.’ … So what becomes of our broken hearts?”

1:16 p.m. ET: Kevin Costner takes the podium to cheers from the crowd. “This feels right,” he says.

1:12 p.m. ET: Gospel singer Kim Burrell sings a song she wrote for Whitney. First line: “She was born in Newark.”

1:05 p.m. ET: Bishop TD Jakes is speaking. “Your spirits are wounded,” he says. “I feel that too.” He met Whitney on the set of “Sparkle,” the last movie she filmed.

12:59 p.m. ET: BeBe Winans is performing “Home,” a song he wrote after his brother died at 48.

12:56 p.m. ET: A tearful BeBe Winans says he’s going to miss “crazy Whitney.” The gospel singer shares an anecdote about preparing to sing with Whitney in her closet. “She said, and this is what I’m gonna miss, ‘Y’all broke, right?’ And then she says, ‘I’m rich, right? So I can buy whatever y’all want.’”

12:52 p.m. ET: Perry brings the crowd to their feet saying emphatically, “Nothing was able to separate her from her love of God.”

12:49 p.m. ET: Tyler Perry talks about his “candid” conversations with Whitney and her problems: “Before I could get words out to encourage her, she would say, ‘But the Lord.” “There was a grace that carried her down from heaven,” he says. “From what I understand, she wasn’t even supposed to be able to speak, let alone sing, because of an incident that happened to her as a child.”

12:48 p.m. ET: Dionne Warwick takes the podium and thanks everyone in attendance, as well as her cousin Whitney. She introduces Tyler Perry.

12:35 p.m. ET: ABC News’ Stephanie Wash reports that Brown left in a black Cadillac Escalade. Still no intel on why. He was also with his daughter LaPrincia.

12:24 p.m. ET: Bobby Brown just left the funeral and drove off with his son Landon Brown.

12:20 p.m. ET: Newark mayor Cory Booker at the podium: “We are here to mourn our loss but to celebrate her life. … We love you, Whitney Houston.”

12:18 p.m. ET: There (may) be no live tweeting from Houston’s funeral. The head of the New Hope Baptist church just asked everyone to turn off their cell phones.

12:10 p.m. ET: The church continues to sing, clad in white, hands clapping.

11:56 a.m. ET: The New Hope Baptist Choir and a children’s choir from PS 22 in Staten Island are singing Houston’s “Greatest Love Of All.”

11:48 a.m. ET: Bobby Brown is in the building.

11:47 a.m. ET: E! news reports that Mary J. Blige has arrived at the church.

11:33 a.m. ET: There’s a “frozen zone” surrounding the New Hope Baptist Church, barring public access to the area for several blocks. Newark mayor Cory Booker put it in place to give the family privacy.

11:26 a.m. ET: Bobby Brown has left the hotel and is en route to church, dressed in a black suit and black hat. His son Landon is accompanying him in the car.

11:16 a.m. ET: The program for today’s services has been released, and reveals that Kevin Costner, Houston’s “Bodyguard” co-star, is speaking, as previously reported. Alicia Keys and R. Kelly are among the performers:

Processional
Scripture by Joe Carter
Selection Donnie McClurkin
Tyler Perry
TD JAKES
Selection Kim Burrell
Kevin Costner
Clive Davis
Ray Watson
Selection Stevie Wonder
Ricky Minor
Selection Alicia Keys
Selection R Kelly
Patricia Houston
Dionne Warwick
Selection CeCe winans
Eulogy Marvin Winans
Recessional

11:08 a.m. ET: The Rev. Jesse Jackson was one of the first to arrive at the church. Outside, at approximately 9:45 a.m., he told reporters that Houston had “God’s gifts,” adding that “she didn’t go to Juilliard; she went to New Hope. [She comes from] an environment that honed her talents. We find joy in her singing…Forty-eight years is not a very long time. Jesus [died] at 33. Sometimes bright lights burn out quickly. But when we have them, we get so much illumination. From her, we got that joy.”

11:01 a.m. ET: Change of plans: Aretha Franklin will not perform at the services, her rep tells ABC News Radio.

11 a.m. ET: Bobby Brown is in town. ABC News’ Stephanie Wash spotted him at a Newark hotel, embracing members of his family. He was casually dressed in a white t-shirt, jeans, sneakers and a backwards baseball cap. He was with his son Landon Brown and brother Tommy Brown.

8:50 a.m. ET: It’s a somber day in the music industry as Whitney Houston’s family, friends and colleagues prepare to lay the pop icon to rest. Check back with this blog starting at 11 a.m. ET for live coverage of her funeral at Newark, N.J.’s New Hope Baptist Church.

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The gold hearse carrying Whitney Houston. Credit: Rich Shultz/AP Photo.

 

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