Sunday, February 19, 2012

A shoulder to cry on: Alicia Keys' tears for Whitney as she hugs Bobbi Kristina and Cissy after heartfelt performance

-Stevie Wonder also consoles family after performing two songs
-Gospel singer Cece Winans and R Kelly take to the alter for stirring renditions
-Mariah Carey is sitting next to X Factor judge LA Reid
-Ray J has head in hands for most of funeral

By Dionne Clarke

Tender hugs: Alicia Keys embraces Whitney Houston's mother Cissy Houston, left, and daughter Bobbi Kristina, after a moving performance at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, today where the singer's funeral was being held

A tearful Alicia Keys shared a tender moment of consolation with Whitney Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina and mother Cissy today.

The 31-year-old singer embraced the pair, who were sat front row at the New Hope Baptist Church, after performing a moving rendition of Send Me An Angel.

Keys, who was wearing a black trouser suit teamed with a white top, said a few words before her piano and vocal recital.

Shedding tears: The 31-year-old signer was already crying when she arrived at the piano to perform, where she also said a few words before singing, describing Whitney as an 'angel' and a 'beautiful, caring human being'

She was already tearful as she walked to the piano and spoke about her friendship with the 48-year-old singer.

‘We called each other Meema,’ Alicia recalled. ‘She was such a beautiful, caring human being. She would call you for no reason at all but just to say hi. And that’s rare I think, sometimes.'

‘I feel like in so many ways she reached back to me and to Michael and Brandy and Jordin [Sparks] and all these young artists and made us feel strong and capable and loved.

'I think she is an angel to us. She has been an angel to us.'

Stevie Wonder took to the piano next to serenade the congregation.

‘Dionne, Cissy and to all the family, I want you to know as have millions of people said not just in this time but throughout her career, we loved her so much and that won’t stop,’ the legendary singer said.

Showing his support: Bobbi Kristina was spotted wearing her sunglasses as Stevie Wonder embraced her after his second performance

Raising the roof: Stevie performed twice as he remembered Whitney

‘In my fantasy world I had a crush on Whitney,’ he laughed.

‘I understand that Ribbons in the Sky is one of the ones that she liked a lot,’ Stevie said before explaining that he changed the lyrics to make it more appropriate for church and the occasion.

‘What God gives is never a coincidence and more than a happen-stance,’ he sang.

‘Who can lose with God on our side. And no more Whitney do you have to cry. You will always be our ribbon in the sky. And angel from God’s choir of love. Whitney an angel from the choir. From God’s choir of love.’

He received a standing ovation when he finished his heart wrenching tribute to Whitney.

Stevie then sang another song, Love’s In Need Of Love Today, accompanied by the choir. It was a hit of his from the Seventies.

R Kelly took to the podium to sing I Look To You and was visibly shaken and tearful.

From the heart: Alicia lifted the roof with her soaring performance as she paid tribute to the late singer

Friend in a time of need: Keys hugs Kristina after the performance

The singer had written a few songs off of Whitney’s last album and they were very good friends.

Cece Winans, Whitney’s close friend, then gave a stirring performance of Don’t Cry For Me.

The Grammy Award-winning singer sang a duet with Whitney on the track Count on Me for the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack.

She then sang Yes Jesus Loves Me which was the final song that Whitney sang two days before her death.

Bobbi Kristina was seen putting her hand around the waist of her grandmother Cissy and comforting her as she bent over in tears.

Denise Council, who attended the ceremony at New Hope Baptist Church, said the teenager was equally as tearful.

'Bobbi Kristina broke down, but she was good,' Council told People magazine. 'She was up in the first row ... and (did) pretty good, all considering. (Whitney's mother) Cissy was wonderful.'

The church was filled with purple and white flowers. Purple was apparently Whitney’s favourite colour.

Mariah Carey was sitting next to X Factor judge LA Reid and Ray J had his head in his hands for most of the funeral.

Powerful vocals: Grammy Award-winning gospel singer Cece Winans performed Don't Cry For Me and then Yes Jesus Loves You. R Kelly performed I Look To You and was emotional and tearful throughout

Consoling each other: As Winans performed Yes Jesus Loves You - the last song Whitney performed in the days before her death - Cissy bowed her head, overcome by emotion, as her granddaughter Bobbi put an arm around her



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