Life Of Whitney Houston Celebrated At Newark Funeral
Family, friends and fellow stars remembered Whitney Houston's voice, love and -- most of all -- faith at her homegoing service Saturday at the New Jersey church in which she grew up.

A "who's who" of musical performers adapted lyrics in tribute to Houston, who died a week ago at age 48.

Virtually everyone in the program spoke of Houston's Baptist background and beliefs.

Patricia Houston, the singer's sister-in-law and former manager, said Houston retained her love for God.

"In her final days, she held on to what you taught her to believe in," Patricia Houston said. "I promise you she did."

Actor Kevin Costner received a standing ovation after he spoke of Houston's courage when she tried out for a starring role in the 1992 movie "The Bodyguard."

Speaking at the service in Newark, Costner recounted his own second thoughts of putting her up for the role. She was a novice, he said, and the studio had questions of whether choosing a person of color would be good for the box office.

In the end, Costner said, Houston nailed the tryout and went on to further fame and success.

"So off you go Whitney, off you go, escorted by an army of angels to your heavenly father," Costner told mourners at the funeral. "And when you sing before him, don't you worry. You'll be good enough."

Houston's casket, covered with a large spray of flowers, rested in front of the altar at New Hope Baptist Church during the three-and-a-half hour service.

At the conclusion, her iconic recording of "I Will Always Love You" was played as her coffin was removed. Her mother, Cissy Houston, leaned on her escorts as they helped her down the aisle. As she followed the casket, the sounds of her late daughter's voice filled the church.

While many of her fans lamented the fact that Houston's service was invitation-only, Pastor Marvin Winans, who delivered the eulogy, thanked Houston's mother for having the service at the church. "That took a lot of courage. And because of that you brought the world to church today," he said during his eulogy.

Clapping and swaying mass choirs opened the midday homegoing service, performing rousing versions of gospel standards.

Gospel singer and friend Kim Burrell sang a reworked version of Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come," adding glimpses of Houston's life to the lyrics. After finishing, she walked down to the pew where Cissy Houston sat and embraced her.

One of the most emotional moments in the service was Alicia Keys singing "Send Me an Angel," her voice soaring into the rafters of the sanctuary.

Stevie Wonder, who sang "Ribbon in the Sky" -- adapting it to refer to Houston -- said millions will continue to love the late singer. R. Kelly sang "I Look to You" -- one of Houston's last hit songs -- and CeCe Winans, of the Winans music family, performed "Don't Cry for Me" and "Jesus Loves Me."

Speakers, including Bishop T.D. Jakes and director-producer Tyler Perry, spoke of Houston's faith -- and the promise of tomorrow.

Jakes delivered, to applause, a message of victory over death.

"Death has not won. Your tears may flow. The flowers might wither," he said. "You will find people you love may leave you outwardly, but (they) will not leave you inwardly."