February 18, 2012 20:53

Stevie Wonder, R Kelly, Alicia Keys perform at Whitney Houston's funeral

Late singer's ex-husband Bobby Brown storms out of service, while Kevin Costner gives 20-minute speech

Stevie Wonder, R Kelly, Alicia Keys perform at Whitney Houston's funeral

Photo: PA Photos

Stevie Wonder, R Kelly and Alicia Keys were among the performers at Whitney Houston's funeral earlier this evening (February 18).

Held at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, the lengthy ceremony was attended by a number of the late singer's family and friends, along with a host of names from the entertainment world.

Houston's ex-husband Bobby Brown left the service in dramatic fashion 20 minutes after arriving, before climbing into a waiting SUV outside and being driven away. According to reports, he later returned to the ceremony by a side door.

It is not yet clear why Brown exited the service - US TV host Shaun Robinson tweeted that he had been involved in a seating dispute, while his agent Jeff Allen told E! News he had left early in order to make it to a gig with his band New Edition in Connecticut tonight.

Meanwhile, Wonder sang 'Love's In Need Of Love Today', Keys played 'Send Me An Angel', while Kelly performed a cover of Houston's 2009 single 'I Look To You' during the service.

Houston's co-star in 1992 film The Bodyguard Kevin Costner made an emotionally-charged 20-minute speech offering his memories of working with the star. He addressed Houston's mother Cissy and daughter Bobbi Christina during the eulogy, commenting: "To you, Bobbi Kristina, and to all those young girls who are dreaming that dream, thinking that maybe they aren't good enough, I think Whitney would tell you, guard your bodies. And guard the precious miracle of your own life. Then sing your hearts out."

He continued:

Off you go Whitney, off you go. Escorted by an army of angels to your heavenly father. When you sing before him, don't you worry. You'll be good enough.

Houston's cousin Dionne Warwick, her sister Patricia and musical director Ricky Minor also spoke at the ceremony, while CeCe Winans, the godmother of Bobbi Kristina, performed Houston's track 'Don't Cry For Me'. Aretha Franklin, who had been expected to sing at the ceremony, did not attend after suffering health problems.

The service closed with an official eulogy from Reverend Marvin Winans, where he preached and sang gospel songs before Houston's coffin was carried out of the church as her 1992 smash hit 'I Will Always Love You' played and mourners exited.

Houston passed away last Saturday (February 11) at the age of 48, after she was discovered underwater and unconscious in a bath at a hotel in Beverly Hills. Though it has been widely reported that she died as a result of an overdose of Xanax and other prescription drugs mixed with alcohol, police have said it may take up to eight weeks for her cause of death to be formally confirmed.

A police spokesman has said that although prescription drugs were present in the singer's room, reports that they were involved in her death were still only "rumours and speculation".

Whitney Houston, 1963-2012 - obituary

Whitney Houston's life in photos

Whitney Houston - ten best songs





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