'You were as beautiful as a woman could be': Kevin remembers Whitney

There were tears, there was applause and even, miraculously, laughter at a 'home going' service for Whitney Houston.

'Home Going' because in the tradition of the baptist church where the diva was raised and where they had come to celebrate her life, she was returning to her maker.

Leading the tributes was Kevin Costner – her co-star in The Bodyguard – who remembered her heyday.

With her flower-laden casket just in front of him, the actor shared anecdotes from their time on the film and recalled how he fought for the singer to be cast against studio opposition.



His powerful eulogy also touched on the doubts and insecurities that often assailed his friend even at the height of her fame and sometimes "caused her to stumble".

Addressing her directly, he said:  "You weren't just pretty, you were as beautiful as a woman could be."

"People didn't just like you, Whitney. They loved you. I was your pretend bodyguard once not so long ago, and now you're gone, too soon, leaving us with memories".

Choking back tears, Kevin said goodbye one final time: "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 will be good enough".


The speech delivered with Whitney's mother Cissy and daughter, Bobbi Kristina, sitting before him in the front row, moved the congregation to a standing ovation.

A letter from Cissy had been included in the programme for the service. "I thank God for the beautiful flower he allowed me to raise and cherish for 48 years," she had written.

Dionne Warwick, the artist's cousin and fellow singer, had been asked to act as master of ceremonies and bravely held together a day fraught with emotions.

In the absence of Whitney's godmother Aretha Franklin, who was unable to attend due to illness, she welcomed a galaxy of stars, including Stevie Wonder, Oprah, Mariah Carey, R Kelly, Roberta Flack and Piers Morgan. 

Introducing Alicia Keys, she revealed that her relative had "adored" the young singer.

Alicia  who received a hug from Cissy and Bobbi Kristina  returned the compliment with a rousing medley of songs, including Send Me An Angel, changing the lyrics to "Whitney is an Angel".


"We called each other Meema," she revealed. "She was such a beautiful human being. She'd call you for no reason at all but just to say hi. And that’s rare I think sometimes".

"I feel like in so many ways she reached back to me and to Brandy and Jordin [Sparks] and all these young artists and made us feel strong and capable and loved."

Whitney's mentor Clive Davis recalled his protege's talent, saying: "You wait a lifetime for that kind of voice to come along".

He added that she had been making an effort to turn her life around, telling him in the days before her death: "I'm committed to getting my high notes back. No cigarettes. I'll be ready by August."


Narada Michael Walden, who produced some of the late singer's hits, said: "Everyone was feeling Whitney's spirit in there, it was beautiful."

The proceedings at Newark's New Hope Baptist Church ended with the strains of Houston's biggest record, I Will Always Love You, soaring through the church.

With streets around the chapel closed for the ceremony, fans gathered near the funeral home to say their goodbyes, shouting along the route: "We love you, Whitney"

The following day the pop icon was laid to rest next to her father, John Russell Houston, Jr., at the Fairview Cemetery in a private service witnessed by her closest friends and family.

And in memory of the local girl who became a global music icon, flags in her home state of New Jersey hung at half mast.