The Whitney Houston memorial - - Jackson, MS

The Whitney Houston memorial

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Fans created a makeshift memorial for singer Whitney Houston outside the church where her memorial is being held Saturday. (Source: CNN/WCBS) Fans created a makeshift memorial for singer Whitney Houston outside the church where her memorial is being held Saturday. (Source: CNN/WCBS)
Whitney Houston's memorial is being held at New Hope Baptist, the church she attended as a child in Newark, NJ. (Source: CNN/WCBS) Whitney Houston's memorial is being held at New Hope Baptist, the church she attended as a child in Newark, NJ. (Source: CNN/WCBS)
Whitney Houston died Feb. 11 at the age of 48. (Source: MGN) Whitney Houston died Feb. 11 at the age of 48. (Source: MGN)

3:52 p.m. The service is concluded.

3:44 p.m. Houston's song I Will Always Love You is playing to end the memorial as the casket is lifted and taken down the center aisle of the church. Family is starting to file out. Everyone began clapping as the song ended.

3:39 p.m. Winans and the choir are singing God Has Spoken; Let the Church Say Amen. The attendees, with the exception of family, were asked to sit. The announcer noted there were "more stars than at the Grammys." 

3:36 p.m. "We ask... all of us that are hurting, that you would lift us up, and Father we will not leave here bitter or upset," Winans said.

3:32 p.m. Winans has not mentioned Houston once during his "prioritize" sermon. But he said that faith should not be something that is attached only to the end of your life. He ended it with "You could never put God first and have God forget you and leave you."

He is saying a prayer thanking God for Whitney Houston, and he prayed that God would give everyone the ability to "prioritize."

3:22 p.m. Winans is talking about "prioritizing," or placing the most important things first in your life, like faith. He said the Bible is everyone's "owner's manual," so they can get the best performance out of their lives.

Winans' response to the news agencies who asked what he was going to talk about in his eulogy: "Come Sunday, I do this every Sunday."

3:12 p.m. The crowd gave New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is in attendance, a standing ovation for flying the flags at half-mast when Marvin Winans introduced him. Winans is reading from Matthew 6:25.

3:03 p.m. The Rev. Marvin Winans is speaking. He brought up other members of the Winans family. He joked that although BeBe and CeCe are known as Houston's friends, he actually met her first. He asked Carvin Winans, his twin brother, to come and sing Tomorrow, a song of theirs Houston used to sing. Marvin went to the piano, and the crowd is standing up as they perform.

2:52 p.m. CNN reported Bobby Brown left the church earlier because he brought a large entourage to the memorial that he wanted to bring in, but they could not be accommodated.

2:45 p.m. Warwick read from the poem I'm Free, saying that was how she felt about her "Nippy." CeCe Winans is singing.

2:42 p.m. R. Kelly is singing I Look to You along with the choir.

2:39 p.m. "My last conversation with her was at the Beverly Hilton," Pat Houston said. "We were having lunch. She had concerns about information she had heard about her. And I reminded her that in her 20s, she gave the world her life with her golden voice. In her 30s and 40s, she gave her life to her husband and child.

"And she was approaching her 50s, and it was time to live for Whitney. She said, 'Because He lives, I can always face tomorrow.' And she had a huge smile on that oh-so-beautiful face."

2:25 p.m. Pat Houston, Whitney's sister-in-law, is at the pulpit and has started to speak. She said she is comforted knowing everyone's time is in God's hands. "Today the world is saying goodbye to that incredible soul," she said. Pat said one thing she could be sure of was that even when Whitney was tired, she always gave. "Though we will not see her in the flesh, she is ever-present with us." Pat paused, holding back tears, as she talked about how Whitney always tried to do the right thing.

2:08 p.m. Warwick introduced Stevie Wonder. "I wanted to stop and give all praise to God for allowing me to be alive at the same time as Whitney," he said. Wonder is performing Ribbon in the Sky, which was one of her favorite songs. But he is changing the lyrics, personalizing it to Houston.

2:03 p.m. CNN reported Houston's ex, Bobby Brown, has left the service. Houston's longtime bodyguard, Ray Watson, is speaking. Watson is telling stories about he and Houston while on the road, evoking laughter from the crowd. Watson said everyone needed to treat entertainers with more dignity and love.

1:59 p.m. Warwick introduced Aretha Franklin, who is not there. Franklin was reportedly not feeling well, although she was expected to attend.

1:52 p.m. Houston's mentor Clive Davis recalled the "indelible" memories left behind by the singer. He also talked about her growth as an artist. "Whitney was no longer they shy one," he said. "She was no longer the introverted one. She was there among music. She was returning to music, and that was her passion.

"The Lord and her religion were obviously her life-guiding force. Music as well was her passion."

He also told Bobbi Kristina Brown that her mother would be forever looking after her.

1:38 p.m. Alicia Keys is performing.

1:33 p.m. Costner spoke about Houston's experience when doing a screen test for The Bodyguard. He said she dealt with uncertainty and was nervous.

"I asked her to trust me and she said she would," he said. "A half hour later, she went back in to do her screen test and the studio fell in love with her.

"The Whitney I knew, despite her success and worldwide fame, still wondered, 'Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Will they like me?' It was the burden that made her great and the part that caused her to stumble in the end."

1:18 p.m. Kevin Costner has started to speak. He is talking about the similarities between the unlikely pair of he and Houston, how they both grew up in the Baptist Church. He got several laughs from the crowd talking about his own experiences of growing up and getting in trouble as a child at church.

1:13 p.m. The Rev. Kim Burrell is singing a rendition of A Change is Gonna Come personalized for Houston. Prior to that, Bishop T.D. Jakes spoke about how even though people are sad, death has not won. "Love will last forever, for God is love," Jakes said.

12:57 p.m. BeBe Winans has come up to speak. He asked CeCe Winans to come with him. He is struggling with his emotions as he speaks. He said he would perform a song he wrote when his brother passed away. He also joked about how Whitney offered to help them as they prepared to go on their first tour.

"We sat in her closet," Winans said. "But the closet was about as big as this church, so we weren't crowded."

12:50 p.m. Dionne Warwick introduced Tyler Perry to "come give his words of expression." She referred to Houston by her nickname, "Nippy." Perry said he was surprised by Houston's openness when she first met him. He talked about the evidence of how much she loved the Lord, and how nothing separated her from God. 

"I'm completely thankful to God for all that he has done in her life," Perry said. "There was a grace that kept on and carried her all the way through.

"It was the same grace that carried her home."

12:42 p.m. The Rev. Donnie McClurkin is soloing with the choir. Jesse Jackson and T.D. Jakes are standing to his right. Most of the songs performed so far have taken on a celebratory tone, with the crowd standing and swaying along to the music.

12:29 p.m. A soloist is performing a rendition of Psalms 23 with the choir.

12:17 p.m. Bobby Brown has arrived at the service. There had been reports earlier in the week that the family had shut him out and did not want him there. The minister of music for the church is now speaking. He asked people "to not use your cell phones," as well as no recording or pictures. He introduced Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark.

"We are here to mourn our loss, but to celebrate her life," Booker said.

12:07 p.m. The service is underway. The choir, all dressed in white, began the memorial with praises of "Grateful." The second song is more upbeat, Hallelujah You're Worthy.


(RNN) – Aretha Franklin is reportedly sick and will not perform as planned at Whitney Houston's memorial Saturday.

She will still attend, according to CNN. Franklin was scheduled to sing The Greatest Love of All.

CNN reported "The Queen of Soul" did perform last night at New York's Radio City Music Hall and sang that song plus I Will Always Love You as a special tribute to her goddaughter.

Family and friends have gathered in Newark, NJ, for the private "going home celebration" of singer Whitney Houston.

The service is scheduled to begin at approximately noon EST at New Hope Baptist Church, which Houston attended and sang as a child.

Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, R. Kelly, gospel singer Kim Burrell, CeCe Winans and the New Hope Baptist Church Mass Choir, also will be singing, according to CNN.

The Rev. Marvin Winans will give the eulogy. Winans officiated the wedding of Houston and Bobby Brown in 1992.

Other planned speakers include music mogul and mentor, Clive Davis; Bishop T.D. Jakes, Tyler Perry and Houston's The Bodyguard co-star, Kevin Costner.

Around 1,500 people are expected to attend the invitation-only memorial. The Houston family announced they did not want to hold a public service.

A private viewing was held Friday for family. Houston is survived by her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown; and mother, Cissy Houston.

Fans of Houston pushed several of her albums back into the Billboard Top 200 following the news of her death, including the album Whitney: The Greatest Hits, which surged to number six. During her career, she became one of the best-selling artists of all time, the star of several movies and earned more awards than any female singer during her career.

However in recent years, she became almost as well-known for her tumultuous lifestyle involving alcohol, drug use and a rocky marriage with Brown that ended in 2006.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office announced toxicology reports would not be complete on the pop icon for six to eight weeks. Members of the Beverly Hills Police Department said foul play was not suspected in her death.

Houston's body was discovered in the bathtub of her room at the Beverly Hills Hilton. She was 48 years old.

This story will be updated throughout the memorial.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

SIDEBAR: Whitney Houston Extras


During Whitney Houston's long career, she received six Grammys, two Emmys, 30 Billboard Music Awards and 22 American Music Awards. More>>

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