Whitney Houston

Gospel Artist BeBe Winans Opens Up About Whitney Houston

RNS photo courtesy BeBe Winans

RNS photo courtesy BeBe Winans

In his new book, “The Whitney I Knew,” gospel artist BeBe Winans describes his 28-year friendship with singer Whitney Houston. Winans, 49, and his sister CeCe, performed with Houston, and sang at her funeral in February. His older brother, Marvin, gave the eulogy for Houston at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J.

In an interview, Winans talked about the faith of the woman known just as “Whitney,” and why he won’t rush to see her in “Sparkle,” the movie that opens Friday (Aug. 17).

Whitney Houston's Funeral Saturday: No Fans Allowed

Fan signs a poster for singer Whitney Houston at the New Hope Baptist Church, Ne

Fan signs a poster for singer Whitney Houston at the New Hope Baptist Church, Newark, New Jersey. Photo by STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty

NEWARK, N.J. — With TV trucks and camera crews clogging the streets and thousands of fans hoping for a glimpse of the event, Whitney Houston's family has decided that no one but invited guests will get near her funeral on Saturday.

That means no procession, no video screens outside the New Hope Baptist Church for the noon service — and no fans who want to pay their respects.

City streets will be locked down for six square blocks around the church beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday, Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio said.

Celebrities from Aretha Franklin (who is Houston's godmother) to the Rev. Jesse Jackson have been invited to the funeral. Others confirmed on the guest list, according to CNN, are Chaka Khan, BeBe and CeCe Winans, songwriter Diane Warren, pop singer Darlene Love, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Antonio "L.A." Reid, Ray J and Brandy.

No one without an invitation will get into the service for the 48-year-old singer who died Saturday in her Beverly Hills Hilton hotel room.

Gospel Great Marvin Winans to Lead Funeral for Whitney Houston

Grammy-winning Gospel singer Marvin Winans. Image via Getty Images.

Grammy-winning Gospel singer Marvin Winans. Image via Getty Images.

NEWARK, N.J. — Grammy Award winner and longtime family friend Marvin Winans will deliver the eulogy for Whitney Houston during her funeral Saturday (Feb.  18) at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, the church pastor said Tuesday night.

Houston’s family rejected a public final farewell to the pop icon, choosing instead to hold a private, invitation-only funeral at New Hope, the singer’s childhood church, which seats about 1,500. The Rev. Joe A. Carter, pastor at New Hope Baptist Church, said he will officiate the service, scheduled to begin at noon. Houston was born in Newark and raised in nearby East Orange.

Winans, who also serves as the lead pastor at Detroit’s Perfecting Church, told the Detroit Free Press that he felt like he had lost a sibling when he learned the 48-year-old singer had died Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Houston’s mother, gospel singer Cissy Houston, her cousin Dionne Warwick, and other family members gathered at Whigham Funeral Home in Newark well into the early morning hours Tuesday to shape plans for the service, funeral director Carolyn Whigham said.

Remembering "Nippy": Houston's Church Mourns the Death of a Famous Daughter

Whitney Houston sings at a 2011 pre-Grammy Awards event. Photo via Getty Images.

Everybody has a favorite Whitney Houston song, a memory that makes them stand still and think about how this soulful pop superstar made them feel when they heard her sing.
   
Remember the chill when she sang the national anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl, or how "I'm Every Woman" empowered women, providing confidence and inspiration?
   
But anyone who knew Houston understands that her talent came from one place, the God she served at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. This is where it all started for its daughter, where she was the darling of the choir as a child who left people speechless, belting out gospel songs and hymns.
   
What she did through song on Sunday mornings, the members of her home church returned the favor on Sunday (Feb. 12) the only way they know how. They prayed.
   
They prayed for Emily Cissy Houston, Houston's mother, the minister of music for 54 years at the church.

The Grammys: Something Old, Something New, Something… Meh

Before anything else, I have to give serious props to Jennifer Hudson for doing her acapella tribute to Whitney Houston, whose death at age 48 cast a noticeable pall over the otherwise celebratory evening. With a photo of the recently deceased pop legend hanging over her and millions watching, Hudson pushed back her emotions to deliver a rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” that few could pull off in any situation, let alone one with that kind of pressure. She proved herself a true professional and a peer worthy of comparison to other superstar divas like Houston.

Beyond that stand-out moment, the Grammys offered what seemed to be a house divided in the music world, some of which was reassuring, and some of which simply made me feel old and out of touch.

In Memory of Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston performs onstage during the 2011 Pre-Grammy Gala. Photo by Getty

Whitney Houston performs onstage during the 2011 Pre-Grammy Gala. Photo by Getty Images.

The Bible teaches us: “A good name is better than precious ointment and the day of death, than the day of birth.” (Ecclesiastes 7:1)

On this day, as the world morns the unexpected passing of legendary singer Whitney Houston, this wisdom reminds us that when we grieve death, we grieve our own loss.

Ms. Houston has passed from time into eternity, from this veil of tears to a place where there is no more pain and no more tears, where the only relevant judgment is the judgment of God Almighty.

As a girl, Ms. Houston sang in church, and in her last public performance she sang, “Yes, Jesus Loves Me.” In the time and space between, she lived a life of wealth and fame, of joy and pain.

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