Whitney Houston was laid to rest on Sunday after a Saturday memorial service at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. Despite her struggles, her family and friends called out her faith in Jesus at the ceremony.
“I don’t care what was going on with her, I don’t care what it was, she stayed grounded in the Word,” Patricia Houston, the singer’s sister-in-law and manager, said at the funeral, according to transcripts of Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN.
“A friend … sent a note reminding us that our dear sister, aunt, mother, friend in Christ has been set free. Free from pain, free from sorrow, free from crying, free from sin, free from death. We will see her again but until then she rests peacefully in the Lord’s presence.” She went on to say that “the legacy that she left was music but what she left for you was her love for God and she had it and she was absolute, she was absolute about that.”
Houston is the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston of the Drinkards gospel quartet and later the Sweet Inspirations vocal group of Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley. Houston is also a cousin of singers Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick. She established the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children in 1989 to tackle problems such as homelessness, children with cancer and AIDS, and other issues of self-empowerment.
According to TMZ.com, the day before her death she told a friend, “I’m going to see Jesus … I want to see Jesus.” Hours before she died, she quoted Matt. 3:13-17, which chronicles John baptizing Jesus in the Jordan and God’s voice descending from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
With more than 170 million combined album, singles and videos sold worldwide during her career with Arista Records, Houston established a benchmark for superstardom and influenced countless other vocalists, female and male. Houston is the only artist to chart seven consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits; the first female artist to enter the Billboard 200 album chart at No. 1; and the only artist with seven consecutive multi-platinum albums. The Bodyguard soundtrack is one of the top 10 biggest-selling albums of all-time.
“I’m the type of person that when I would see this (a heavy heart) with anyone I would want to just want to say something encouraging. But before I could get words out to encourage her, she would say ‘but the Lord,’” actor and director Tyler Perry said at the funeral. “And the conversation went on … we would talk a little bit more, and she would go back into this sadness and just when I’m about to step in she would say, ‘But my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His amazing grace.’”