LL Cool J Honors Whitney Houston With Public Prayer

LL Cool J prays for Whitney Houston at Grammys
LL Cool J reads a prayer as he recalls the recent death of singer Whitney Houston, at the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday. (Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)

Yes, Jesus loved her. And Whitney Houston sang about that love in her last public performance with gospel singer Kelly Price two days before she died.

Houston, who was found dead in the bathtub of her hotel room on Saturday afternoon, sang “Jesus Loves Me” with the R&B and gospel singer at Price’s “For the Love of R&B Grammy Party” on Thursday.

Then, on Sunday night, the secular music industry mourned the loss—and prayed to "our heavenly Father" to comfort Houston's family—at the 54th annual Grammy Awards.

The industry commemorated her with a fitting tribute in which Jennifer Hudson performed an emotional rendition of one of Houston’s most popular songs, “I Will Always Love You.” But before that, host LL Cool J kicked off the night with a prayer to honor the musical superstar (which you can watch below).

“There’s no way around it,” the rapper told the audience. “We’ve had a death in our family,” he said. “For me, the only thing that feels right is to begin with a prayer for a woman who we love, for our fallen sister, Whitney Houston.”

As the star-studded crowd bowed their heads, LL paid tribute to the six-time Grammy winner.

“Heavenly father, we thank you for sharing our sister Whitney with us,” he said. “Today our thoughts are with her mother, her daughter and all of her loved ones. And although she is gone too soon, we remain truly blessed to have been touched by her beautiful spirit, and to have the legacy of her music to cherish and share forever. Amen.”

He then introduced a clip of one of Houston’s biggest Grammy moments: her performance of “I Will Always Love You” at the 1993 awards show.

For Houston’s last performance, she sang an old hymn often sung by children in Sunday school.

“Jesus loves me! This I know/ For the Bible tells me so./ Little ones to Him belong/ They are weak, but He is strong,” Houston proclaimed at L.A.’s Tru Nightclub.

The late pop star attended Price’s party with her 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown. Price spoke of the performance at Sunday’s pre-Grammys red carpet.

“I wasn’t expecting her to sing,” the nominee told E! News’ Ryan Seacrest of Houston’s performance. “I wasn’t asking her to do that.”

The renowned singer was expected to appear at producer Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy party, the same event where Davis—who discovered the star when she was a teenager—introduced Houston to the music world nearly 30 years ago in 1983.

Davis dedicated the night to Houston, tearfully toasting her in front of an audience of celebrities, who memorialized her career.

“I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me for so many years. Whitney was so full of life,” Davis said Saturday evening. “Whitney was a beautiful person and she had a talent beyond compare. She graced this stage with her regal presence so many times, giving so many performances here over the years. So, simply put, Whitney would have wanted the music to go on.”

The iconic singer was pronounced dead Saturday at 3:55 p.m. PST, at the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel. An autopsy was performed Sunday at the request of police investigators, but coroner’s officials are not releasing information about it.

Officials are not ruling out any cause of death until they have toxicology results, which will likely take weeks to obtain, but there were no indications of foul play or obvious signs of trauma. Chief Coroner Ed Winter declined to provide any further details on the room's condition or any evidence investigators discovered.

Beverly Hills Police Lt. Mark Rosen told reporters his agency may release more details Monday about Houston's death, but it will depend on how comfortable detectives feel.

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