With mirth, movement and sorrow told fans, friends, family and colleagues Saturday goodbye to the voice of them all - Whitney Houston - at a ceremony in her hometown of Newark.
In a golden hearse arrived at her coffin to New Hope Baptist Church, where 1500 invited guests participated in a nearly four-hour memorial service.
Outside the church stood grieving fans with flowers and balloons. Some were wearing T-shirts with pictures of singing icon, others carried a banner reading: "We will always love you, Whitney." A paraphrase of her most famous song.
A historic day
"This is a historic day for me. I just want to be as close to her as possible," said Tamecca Melvin, a fan from Jersey City.
Whitney Houston died a week ago at a hotel in Beverly Hills at the age of 48 years. Although drug or a drug overdose is suspected of having played a role, there is still no official explanation for her death.
Among the guests were borgerretsforkæmperen Jesse Jackson, singers Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys and actor Kevin Costner, who played with Houston in the movie "The Bodyguard".
Her cousin, singer Dionne Warwick, tied together the ceremony and introduced the speakers.
You are good enough
Houston's former husband, Bobby Brown, also attended during part of the commemoration. Their stormy marriage ended in divorce in 2007.
"Now you take off, Whitney, escorted by an army of angels to your heavenly father. And when you sing to him, so be in no doubt: You're good enough," said Kevin Costner, who talked earnestly about a superstar who always had doubts about whether she struck.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the tone as the first speaker.
"We are here to mourn our loss - and celebrate her life. God's paradise, and with him is one of our angels, Whitney Houston," said Cory Booker.
Whitney Houston buried Sunday next to his father John Russell Houston at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield.
The memorial ceremony was concluded with a play of her biggest hit "I will always love you", while the coffin was borne out of the church. From TV2 Denmark.