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Whitney Houston’s Funeral Features Performances by Alicia Keys, R. Kelly + More

Vince Bucci, Getty Images

Whitney Houston‘s three-hour funeral was aired on CNN and streamed online today (Feb. 18). While pop divas like Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige were in attendance and the likes of Alicia Keys, R. Kelly and Stevie Wonder performed, it was still a traditional Baptist worship service at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., where Houston was born.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the priest said, “We gonna have church today,” and that’s just what they had while celebrating the singer’s life and her immovable faith.The services began with soulful choirs raising the roof so high that Whitney herself probably heard them up in heaven.

Actor/director/producer Tyler Perry recalled Houston’s candor, praising how she had immovable faith even in times of heaviness. Her ‘The Bodyguard’ co-star Kevin Costner, who actually suggested that she sing ‘I Will Always Love You’ and to do the first few bars a capella, asked everyone to remember the “sweet miracle of Whitney” and with his voice cracking, he said, “People didn’t just like you. They loved you.”

Alicia Keys took a seat at the piano at 1:35, saying Whit called her “Keys on the keys” and shared that their nickname for one another was “Mema” before belting out ‘Prelude to a Kiss.’

Houston’s mentor Clive Davis was composed but compassionate, saying, “You wait for a voice like that for a lifetime, a face, a smile, a presence like that for a lifetime. When one person embodies it all, it takes your breath away. That’s how I felt in 1993,” when Whitney shattered him with her version of ‘The Greatest Love of All.’ He also referred to her as “an eternally loyal friend.”

Stevie Wonder performed “Ribbon in the Sky’ while R. Kelly crooned ‘I Look to You.’

Overall, the ceremony was very worship and faith driven. When her casket was rolled out, ‘I Will Always Love You’ played. R.I.P, Whitney Houston. You and your beautiful voice will be missed.

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