Kevin Costner speaks. A little about him... a little about Whitney. Photo: Snapper
Whitney Houston was remembered yesterday in Newark, New Jersey, in the Baptist church she grew up in by her family, celebrity friends and 1500 mourners in a televised memorial service that included a performance by Stevie Wonder, singing, Love’s In Need Of Love Today, and an emotional rendition of Send Me an Angel by Alicia Keys.
But it was Kevin Costner, her co-star of The Bodyguard, who admitted what deep down we all knew – that anyone could have played his role but nobody else could’ve played hers in that movie. Costner delivered an affecting eulogy, encouraging mourners to “suspend [their] sorrow just long enough to remember the sweet miracle that is Whitney." But it was a eulogy that often coasted so close to self-serving - with no fewer than three anecdotes about Costner’s own childhood church experiences and a clanger that began with the words “Whitney’s favourite story of mine” -that the Reverend Jesse Jackson, sitting to his right, on the other side of Reverend Jo A Carter, appeared unimpressed throughout most of it. But that might’ve been grief.
Whitney’s brother-in-law and real-life bodyguard, Ray Watson, who found the singer dead, also spoke, along with Houston’s sister in law, Patricia Houston, who gave the type of honest eulogy only a relative can.
Tyler Perry speaks at Whitney's funeral
The surprise element, (apart from the appearance of R&B singer, R. Kelly who covered Houston’s I Look to You) was a eulogy from filmmaker Tyler Perry, (who wrote and directed Precious) a man who was apparently close to the performer and who pulled out what might be described as an Earl of Spencer level performance -a eulogy so powerful and true, several members of the choir stood up at different moments just to pay their respects to it.
Perry, who quoted from two bible passages in Romans, saying that nothing could separate Whitney from God’s love and adding that it was God’s grace that carried her --only faltered slightly when he described, somewhat contradictorily, Whitney as “resting” but also “singing with angels”.
Perry managed to convey an almost operatic style of preaching with a raw authenticity, delivering a eulogy that was everything you’d want from a star-studded televised memorial service where the casket is gold: goose bumps. He wasn’t the only one – the gospel performance by CeCe Winans was similarly outstanding. But it was Whitney's own signature hit, a song Costner said could never be attempted by another singer again, I Will Always Love you, that played as her casket was carried out of the church.
Ex-husband Bobby Brown left the church early, allegedly because his entourage of nine people were asked to leave and Brown stormed out with them, while only daughter, Bobbi Kristina, appeared, naturally enough, completely distraught. The Daily Beast is now reporting that Bobbi Kristina took off soon after the service to get high and has been battling her own addiction demons, allegedly checking into rehab last year.