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RIP Whitney

HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews | 2/23/2012, 5:10 p.m.
RIP Whitney

Whitney Houston has been laid to rest. No more fans clamoring for her autograph. No more reporters and paparazzi hounding her publicly and privately.

No more fears and anxiety, no more demons that drove her to the sanctuary of drugs and alcohol. No more pain and hurt--no more of any of these.

However, there remains the incessant buzz of rumor and conjecture. What killed her? Was she broke? What's going to happen with her estate? None of these questions bore any pertinence to Pastor Marvin Winans of Perfecting church in Detroit, with his priestly-looking raiment, as he delivered the eulogy at Houston's funeral service last Saturday at New Hope baptist church in Newark, N.J., a church that musically and spiritually nourished the gifted singer.

Houston, 48, died on Feb. 11 of undisclosed causes at the beverly Hilton. According to the coroner's office in los Angeles county, the toxicology report will be completed in several weeks.

"i want to thank mama Houston, cissy, for your willingness to forget about everything else and to have this service here," Winans began. "That took a lot of courage, and because of that, you've brought the world to church today."

He then hinted at what was to come in a eulogy that would quickly mutate into a sermon.

"i want to give honor to all of the bishops and pastors and all the folks that have come. i want to assure you that i won't be that long, but i've been waitin' on y'all all day," he quipped.

Besides thanking Houston's mother for sharing this "homegoing" moment with the world, Winans might have benefited from using a few of cissy Houston's comments found in the beautiful funeral program.

"i never told you that when you were born, the Holy Spirit told me that you would not be with me long," cissy Houston wrote in the program. "And i thank God for the beautiful flower he allowed me to raise and cherish for 48 years."

But before Winans' eulogy, which brought the more than three-and-a-half-hour-long service to a close, there was a procession of notables, each offering their favorite memories or their best performance for the pop icon.

"You wait for a voice like that for a lifetime," said clive Davis, who is noted for discovering Houston and ushering her to fame.

"You wait for a face like that, a smile like that, a presence like that for a lifetime.

When one person embodies it all, it takes your breath away."

Some rancor from Houston fans was directed at Davis for proceeding with his annual pre-Grammy party with Houston's body still in the hotel, particularly from chaka Khan, for whom Houston was once a backup singer. Davis justified it, saying that Houston would have "wanted the party to go on." Davis was also at Radio city Music Hall last Friday for Aretha Franklin's two-day concert. Franklin, who was Houston's godmother and closed her performance with a heartfelt rendition of "The Greatest love of All," suffered leg cramps and spasms and was unable to attend the funeral. "My heart goes out to my dear friend, cissy; Dionne [Warwick]; bobbi Kristina; and the rest of the family," Franklin said in a statement.