Whitney Houston will finally be laid to rest today, after her funeral service yesterday went off with a certain amount of conflict. Bobby Brown may have eventually received an invitation but he didn’t stay to see the “home going service” as Whitney’s family termed the occasion.
The invitation to the service read as follows:
“With heartfelt gratitude, the Houston Family requests the honor of your presence at the home going service for Whitney Elizabeth Houston.”
“Home going” service is a term common in the black community and refers to the person going home to God. Usually, the services are more cheerful and upbeat than funerals and Whitney Houston’s was no exception, with performances from stars such as Stevie Wonder, R Kelly and Alicia Keys.
It truly was a homecoming as her body was driven through the streets of Newark in a gold hearse, past the housing projects where she grew up. Then the platinum coffin with gold handles was carried at noon into the red brick church where little Whitney first sang in public, at the age of 11, in the gospel choir alongside her mother Cissy.
Balloons and flowers were tied to the railings of the New Hope Baptist Church, in Newark, New Jersey, as if for a party. The massive choir wore white and stood to start the service with an electrifying gospel song that said, “Gratefulness is flowing from my heart…”
Kim Burrell personalized a Sam Cook song, to say: “There was a time when she thought she couldn’t last but I know those cares have passed. It’s been a long, long time coming, but I know change has come.”
Kevin Costner, Whitney’s co-star in The Bodyguard, the iconic movie that catapulted her to big screen superstardom was there. Along with her cousin, Dionne Warwick, they gave emotional tributes to a star who died way too soon.
“Off you go Whitney, escorted by an army of angels to your heavenly father. When you sing before him don’t you worry, you’ll be good enough.”
Oprah Winfrey and Mariah Carey were also in attendance. Sadly, Aretha Franklin, godmother to Whitney, was too ill to attend the service.
Whitney’s send-off was lavish. Her casket is platinum wit gold handles. It will be guarded by ten security guards until the burial service today. Her family will have one last viewing before then.
But unfortunately, Whitney’s funeral was marred with controversy. Her ex-husband Bobby Brow left the church before the service had even begun, after members of Whitney Houston’s family objected to Bobby bringing a nine-person entourage with him. Apparently, they were asked to leave. Bobby was welcome to stay but he chose to leave with the others.
Brown’s side of the story is that the group included his four other children from other relationships. They said they were “seated by security” and asked to move on three separate occasions, with no access to Bobbi Kristina.
“In light of the events, I gave a kiss to the casket of my ex-wife and departed as I refused to create a scene,” he said, adding that his kids “are completely distraught over the events.”
Whitney Houston will be laid to rest Sunday next to her father John at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, New Jersey. He was buried there in 2003.
RIP Whitney. Yesterday, and today, should be about you.