Family and friends of the music legend, Whitney Houston bid farewell to her at a private ceremony held at the New Hope Baptist Church, in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday.
The “invitation- only,” funeral service was watched by millions of her fans across the world as the event was streamed live by several websites and television channels.
Up to 1,500 guests attended the ceremony with Stevie Wonder, Kevin Costner and Clive Davis paying tributes in person among others.
Musical tributes were paid by Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, R Kelly, BeBe and CeCe Winans, and the Rev Kim Burrell. Stevie Wonder performed “Love's in Need of Love Today,” and Alicia Keys “Send me an Angel”.
Kevin Costner, her co-star in the blockbuster movie “The Bodyguard,” gave an emotional speech as he said “Off you go Whitney, escorted by an army of angels to your heavenly father. When you sing before him don’t you worry, you’ll be good enough”.
Aretha Franklin was expected to perform at the event but could not reach the church as she was reportedly too ill to attend. Mariah Carey, Oprah Winfrey and Queen Latifah were at the church to pay their tributes to the music wonder, Whitney Houston.
The streets of Newark witnessed the final journey of Houston as her body was driven through the streets in a gold hearse. The platinum coffin decorated with white roses and purple lilies was carried to the church by noon where her musical career started.
Whitney Houston first sang in public in the gospel choir at the New Hope Baptist Church at the age of 11.
Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown attended the ceremony though he exited the church shortly after touching his former wife’s coffin.
Bobby Brown later revealed that he was asked to change seats several times and was prevented from seeing his daughter Bobbi Kristina. He chose to leave the church as he did not want to create a scene, Brown said in a statement.
Afterwards, Houston’s coffin was carried down the aisle by the pallbearers as “I Will Always Love You,” resonated across the church.