She watched her grow up and blossom into a phenomenal talent. And now that Whitney Houston is gone, Aretha Franklin will lead tributes to her girl.Along with another old friend Stevie Wonder, the Queen of Soul will sing at the funeral of the late diva, who was her goddaughter.
Speaking to People, the powerhouse singer lamented the loss of her goddaughter – especially just when it seemed that her life was back on track. "Seeing previews for the new Sparkle movie I thought, boy she looks good, healthy, fresh and has that twinkle in her eyes!" "But in looking back now, I recall her European tour: Still exciting, but unable to sing what she wanted to had to be disheartening.
"We were all aware of her challenges" said Aretha, before adding that she was "always rooting for her".
Meanwhile, Whitney’s publicist, Kristen Foster, also confirmed that invitations have gone out to many other celebrities who want to pay their respects.The singer's ex-husband, Bobby Brown, her co-star in The Bodyguard, Kevin Costner and chat show queen Oprah Winfrey will all attend.Others confirmed are Chaka Khan, the Rev Jesse Jackson and Whitney’s on-off boyfriend Ray J. The eulogy will be given by gospel singer and family friend Marvin Winans, while Whitney's long-time musical mentor Clive Davis will speak at the funeral.
Marvin, a grammy-award winning gospel singer and pastor, is delivering the eulogy at the request of Whitney's devastated mother, Cissy. Organisers have been working to prepare Newark’s New Hope Baptist Church, for some of the biggest names in music, setting up speakers and drums in the aisles. In keeping with the family’s wishes for a low-key service, the streets around the church will be shut down. But the funeral will be shown on television and internet, allowing fans to witness the send off for the tragic singer.