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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Whitney Houston's Funeral

Aired February 18, 2012 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, Whitney Houston's funeral, a proper farewell for an all-American diva.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We celebrate the life of Whitney Houston.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: The family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God wanted me now. He set me free.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Faith.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A grace that carried her from heaven down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And final good-byes from those who knew and loved her best.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lady in heaven who is making God himself wonder how he created something so perfect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Whitney Houston, a final farewell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We loved her so much and that won't stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: This is a special edition of PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(SONG PLAYING)

REV. JOE A. CARTER, NEW HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH: Whitney, today is your day. We celebrate. Today is your day, Whitney. Today is your day.

Now, I want to just say that we came here to celebrate and this is how we celebrate. We have church. We have church.

CROWD: Yes.

CARTER: The loving people you see, this family, they love the Lord. And it is their faith that is holding them together and so it's not about anybody but Whitney today. And we celebrate and want to support and strengthen this family in this hour.

(SONG PLAYING)

TYLER PERRY: It was Pat that introduced me to Whitney a while back. And she and I sat in a restaurant in Atlanta just the two of us, sat there talking for about an hour and a half about four years ago. And during this time she was telling me about her life and I was very surprised at how candid and open and revealing she was as she was talking to me. And she would talk about some things she had went through, some things that had made her sad, some things that were tough.

And as I would see her talk about this, I would see this heaviness come upon her. And I'm the type of person that when I would see this with anyone I would want to just want to say something encouraging. But before I could get words out to encourage her, she would say "but the Lord."

CROWD: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

PERRY: And the conversation went on, the conversation went on, we would talk a little bit more, and she would go back into this sadness and just when I'm about to step in she would say, "But my Lord and saviour Jesus Christ and His amazing grace."

(APPLAUSE)

It was at that moment that I knew that I would do all I can to stand with her. And from that moment to now, I've been standing with her family and her, and I am just completely thankful to God for all that He has done in her life.

CROWD: Yes.

PERRY: There are two constants that I know about Whitney Houston, and one is that there was a grace that carried, a grace that carried her from heaven down through miss Cissy Houston. A grace that bought her up through singing. A grace that -- from what I understand, she wasn't even supposed to be able to speak, let alone sing because of an incident that happened to her as a child but there was a grace that kept carrying her all the way through.

(APPLAUSE)

The same grace led her all the way to the top of the charts, sold all of these albums, and just done some amazing things. Won all these awards. She sang for presidents. And there was a grace that kept on carrying her. That's one thing I know.

And the other thing I know for sure and this is more important than anything she's ever done in her life, Whitney Houston loved the Lord.

CROWD: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

PERRY: And in every conversation we had over these years, it was evident that she loved the Lord. She loved the Lord. And when I think about it, there's a scripture that keeps burning in my heart, I keep thinking about the apostle Paul in Romans when he was talking about I am persuaded that there is nothing that shall separate me from the love of God.

(APPLAUSE)

So what I know about her is that nothing separated her from the love of god. And if you look at what Paul was saying, he was describing her life so perfectly, he said neither height, which meant no matter how far she went in the stratosphere, nothing separated her from the Lord. Neither height, nor depth, no matter how much struggle, no matter what she had to go through, no matter what she had to walk through, it still wasn't enough to separate her from the love of God, nor principalities, nor power.

(APPLAUSE)

Nothing was able to separate her from the love of God.

(SONG PLAYING)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(SONG PLAYING)

REV. T.D. JAKES: The beautiful Whitney Houston, her voice, her song, her poise, her class. But that is not what brings you here, because you knew who she was, not just what she did. You paid a tremendous price in life. You shared her with the world and we want to take a moment and say thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

In moments like this it feels -- it feels like death has won, but the bible says that love is stronger than death. Your hearts are heavy, tears flow down, your spirits are wounded. I feel that, too.

REV. KIM BURRELL, "A CHANGE IS GONNA COME": She was born in Newark. She was heaven sent. Oh, like Newark, she's been busy ever since. It's been a long, a long time coming, but a change had to come, oh, yes, it did. Sometimes when we talk, they find life it's too hard living, but I know she wasn't afraid to die because Whitney understood somebody's waiting beyond the sky. It's been a long time coming, a change had to come, oh, yes, it did.

Sometimes she'd say I got to call my mother. I got to call her because I'm in need, yes, because when she, when she called you, she already knew mother, that immediately whatever she was going through, you would get down on your knees.

There was a time that she felt she couldn't last, but I know, I know, those cares have passed. It's been a long, a long time coming but I know a change from mortal to immortal, a change has come no more tears, no more rehearsals, no more crying, no more crying. A change, a change, a change, a change has come. The bet outfit to put on to be with God. A change, a change, a change, a change has come. It's been a long time, it's been a long time, it's been a long time, but I know she's with Jesus. It's been a long time coming, but a change has come. It's been a long, a long time coming, Whitney, a change has come. Yes, indeed.

KEVIN COSTNER: The Whitney I knew despite her success and worldwide fame still wondered am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Will they like me? It was the burden that made her great and the part that caused her to stumble in the end.

Whitney, if you could hear me now, I would tell you, you weren't just good enough, you were great. You sang the whole damn song without a band. You made the picture what it was. A lot of leading men could have played my part. A lot of guys, a lot of guys could have filled that roll. But you, Whitney, I truly believed that you were the only one that could have played Rachel Marron at that time.

(APPLAUSE)

You weren't just pretty. You were as beautiful as a woman could be. And people didn't just like you, Whitney, they loved you. I was your pretend bodyguard once not so long ago, and now you're gone, too soon, leaving us with memories of a little girl who stepped bravely in front of this church, in front of the ones that loved you first, in front of the ones that loved you best and loved you the longest.

Then boldly you stepped into the white hot light of the world stage. And what you did is the rarest of achievements. You set the bar so high that professional singers, your own colleagues, they don't want to sing that little country song, what would be the point.

Now the only one who sing your songs are young girls like you, who are dreaming of being you someday. And so to you, Bobbi Kristina, and to all those young girls who are dreaming that dream, but maybe thinking they aren't good enough, I think Whitney would tell you guard your bodies and guard the precious miracle of your own life and then sing your hearts out knowing that there's a lady in heaven who is making God himself wonder how he created something so perfect. So off you go, Whitney, off you go, escorted by an army of angels to your heavenly father. And when you sing before him, don't you worry, you'll be good enough.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALICIA KEYS: I feel like in so many ways, you know, she reached back to so many people. She reached back to me. She reached back to Monica and Brandi and Jordan and all these beautiful young artists, you know, so many artists. And just, you know, made us feel like -- like strong and capable and loved and just like, hey, mima. So I think she's an angel to us and she's been an angel to us, you know, and just been a beautiful human being, you know. So I think we've been sending angel for a long time.

He sent me an angel because I don't want to feel like a dove with no wings. And I don't want to know what a heart of stone would bring because that's a lonely road to travel and a heavy load to bare. And it's a long, long way to heaven but I got to get there because Whitney's an angel, see she is an angel and she is an angel, oh, yeah, she is an angel. And oh, we're never going to forget you, no, no. We're never going to forget what you done for us, no, no.

CLIVE DAVIS: You wait for a voice like that for a lifetime. You wait for a face like that, a smile like that, a presence like that for a lifetime. And when one person embodies it all, well, it takes your breath away. And that's the way I felt in 1983 when in the middle of your act at Sweet Water, Cissy, your daughter stepped forward and shattered me with her version of "The Greatest Love of All."

And that night we connected and we connected with each other every night thereafter. I thought of that just this past week when Whitney and I spent Tuesday afternoon in my bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I looked at her on the couch, saw that she'd applied a little make-up and was once again taking aback. She was one beautiful woman.

(APPLAUSE)

The Lord and her religion obviously was her life guiding force. Music as well was her passion. Whitney lived music. Whitney loved music. Personally all I can say is that I loved her very much.

Whitney was purely and simply one of a kind. Yes, she admitted to crises in her life. Yes, she confessed to Oprah about her searing battles, but when I needed her, she was there.

(APPLAUSE)

And Bobbi Kristina, you, too, always, always be proud of your mother. She loved you so very much.

(APPLAUSE)

She defined not only pure talent, but true heart and soul as well. She'll forever be looking after you and will never let go of your hand. So as I said earlier last week, last week Whitney came by my hotel, my hotel bungalow, alone. No bodyguard, no security, just Whitney and me. And she played her new cuts from "Sparkle" and I played some new music that I liked for her. It was like old times. And she looked at me and quietly said, "I want you to know I'm getting in shape. I'm swimming an hour or two a day and I'm committed to get my high notes back. No cigarettes. Plenty of vocal exercising.

Clive, I'll be ready by August.

Well, Whitney, I'm going to hold you to it.

(APPLAUSE)

DAVIS: Everyone in heaven, including God, is waiting and I just know you're going to raise the roof like no one else has done before.

(STEVIE WONDER SINGING "RIBBON IN THE SKY")

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(STEVIE WONDER SINGING "LOVE'S IN NEED OF LOVE TODAY")

PATRICIA HOUSTON, WHITNEY HOUSTON'S SISTER-IN-LAW: When someone dies, we are sad, we are angry, we are stunned, we are often bewildered and we may even feel abandoned. But the more I think of her life, the more I know that she is so safe and so precious in the eyes of God, that he carefully considered the time for her to come to another level of peace. I'm even more comforted by the fact that all of our times are in his hands.

Today the world is celebrating the life and times of this magnificent woman of grace, beauty and enormous talent. Today the world is saying good-bye in a way to that incredible soul. Today we as a family celebrate the life of our sister, our daughter, our mother and our friend.

There is so much I could say about her. She was one with a charmed and beautiful life, a life sometimes misunderstood, even by herself, but a life nevertheless that gave joy, happiness, enthusiasm, peace and beautiful music to millions of people across the world.

With all that I have been privileged to know about her, to share with her, what I can say for sure is that even when she was tired or a bit lost, she gave and gave and then gave some more. When she did not want to do things, she did them anyway. And we are so much better for it.

To my mother-in-law, yes, you did everything you could but the choice was always her. Remember this also, that there are people that Jesus could not heal because they did not want his help. So if God in body cannot do something, then you can feel confident that you are fine.

She put the spark in "Sparkle" and, Krissie (ph), that was for you.

(APPLAUSE)

P. HOUSTON: You were that spark. She wanted much for you. You know how she used to tell you say your prayers. Did you read that scripture? I don't care what was going on with her, I don't care what it was, she stayed grounded in the word.

Mom, you'd be proud. Be proud.

A friend sent a note reminding us that our dear sister, aunt, mother, friend in Christ has been set free.

Thank you, Londale (ph).

Free from pain, free from sorrow, free from crying, free from sin, free from death. We will see her again but until then she rests peacefully in the Lord's presence.

My partner and my sister, Whitney Elizabeth Houston. There are no words that can describe how I feel right now. I didn't think that I could do it, but she's always telling me to stand.

You stand, I need you. And today I stand to say that the legacy that she left was music but what she left for you was her love for God and she had it and she was absolute, she was absolute about that.

And Ma, no worries, in her final days she held on to what you taught her to believe in. I promise you she did.

(APPLAUSE)

(R. KELLY SINGING "I LOOK TO YOU")

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DIONNE WARWICK: I would like to share a few words with you. The words that I feel are quite appropriate of how I feel about my Nippy.

Don't grieve for me for now I'm free. I'm following the path God laid for me. I took his hand when I heard him call. I turned my back and left it all. I could not stay another day to laugh, to love, to work or play. Tasks undone must stay that way. I found that peace at close of day.

If my parting has left a void, then fill it with remembered joy. A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss, oh, yes, these things I, too, will miss. Be not burden with times of sorrow. I wish you sunshine on tomorrow.

My life's been full, I've savored much. Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch. Perhaps my time seemed all too brief. Don't lengthen it now with undue grief. Lift up your hearts and share with me, God, God, God wanted me now. He set me free. RICKY MINOR: I love Whitney Houston. Not because she's pretty. I mean, she's pretty, 5'10", cocoa brown skin. That face, that smile, those eyes. But that's not why I love Whitney Houston. I mean, not because she can sing. I mean, the girl sang, all right. I mean, what a voice. Not a voice, the voice. Hear me now.

(APPLAUSE)

MINOR: I love Whitney Houston. Could it be the dancing? Maybe not. Maybe not that. But I love Whitney Houston. I'm telling you, I love Whitney Houston. The hairstyles, I mean, come on. "Dance with Somebody," the hair? What about the bow in "How Will I Know"? The bow in the hair? You know what I mean.

I love Whitney Houston. Could it be for the outfits? I mean nobody can wear a gown like Whitney Houston. Can I get an amen, church?

(APPLAUSE)

MINOR: Nobody can wear a gown like Whitney Houston. That style, that grace, that smiling face.

I love Whitney Houston for all those things but so much more. Whitney Houston changed my life forever. By entrusting me, Ricky, from Monroe, Louisiana, with her career, with her music career.

(CECE WINANS SINGING "DON'T CRY FOR ME")

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(REV. MARVIN WINANS SINGING)

REV. MARVIN WINANS: I want us to recognize that our faith in God must not be something that we attach to the end of our lives. But that we must prioritize. That you make your decision based on your faith. That you walk according to what you believe. Knowing that you can never say yes to God and God make you ashamed. That you can never put God first and God forget and leave you.

I'm finished. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

WINANS: Every head bowed.

Father, we thank you for this life of Whitney Elizabeth "Nippy" Houston. We thank you that she was a dear friend, and we echo the sentiments of all that have come to show their love.

But Father, I pray by the power of the holy spirit that you would give all that are under the sound of my voice the thought to prioritize, to make you first. For us not to talk about you, but for us to live for you.

Let us leave here, recognizing that Whitney left too soon. Let us leave here impacted by her life, saying that I want to finish what God has started. Let us make you first. I pray that you would lift up Mike and Gary and Pat and Bobbi Kristina. Lift up Cissy. Lift up our (INAUDIBLE), life up Dionne. All of those that are touched, all of us that are hurting, that you would lift us up.

And Father, we will not leave here bitter or upset. But let the church say amen. Let the church say amen. God has spoken so let the church say amen.

(MUSIC)