A crowd gathered at the entrance to Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, south of Newark, where Houston’s body arrived late Sunday morning. She was laid to rest next to her father in the cemetery. Her burial brings an end to her “coming home,” as her family dubbed the invitation-only memorial service held a day earlier at her childhood church in Newark.
The family-only burial is in contrast to the emotionally charged, star-studded memorial service held at New Hope Baptist Church, where Houston, nicknamed “Nippy,” was soloing in the junior choir by age 11.
“Jesus Loves Me” was the last song Houston sang in public before her death on February 11 in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 48. So it was fitting that the mourners — comforted and encouraged by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and R. Kelly — heard the simple, but powerful, “Jesus Loves Me,” this time performed by CeCe Winans. One of the most emotional moments in the service came when Keys recalled how Houston helped her and others achieve success. Keys ended her tribute to Houston by singing “Send Me an Angel,” her voice soaring into the rafters of the sanctuary.
Oprah Winfrey, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Spike Lee were among those who attended. Houston’s former husband, Bobby Brown, also arrived at the service but left soon after.