Alicia Keys paid a moving tribute to Whitney Houston at the late singer’s funeral on Saturday. Dressed in a dark suit, a visibly emotional Keys sang “Send Me an Angel” at the service at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. She was replacing Aretha Franklin, who was unable to sing at the funeral due to illness.
Keys was joined at Houston’s final goodbye by a long list of big music and movie industry names, and she wasn’t the only one singing: Stevie Wonder, R. Kelly and gospel legends BeBe CeCe Winans, Donnie McClurkin and Kim Burrell also belted out tributes.
Houston, 48, passed away in a Beverly Hills hotel room on February 11, though the cause of death has yet to be established. During the service, Keys described Houston as “an angel,” revealing how the soul singer had helped her and other up-and-coming singers personally:
“She reached back to so many people; she reached back to me, to Monica and Brandy … all these beautiful young artists, and just made us feel strong and capable and loved. So she’s an angel to us, and has been an angel to us.”
Keys and Houston had been friends for some years. Like Houston, Keys was a protege of Clive Davis, and it was Keys who wrote “Million Dollar Bill,” the hit single on Houston’s latest album.
As well as Keys’ performance, Whitney’s Bodyguard co-star Kevin Costner delivered an emotional eulogy, in which he reflected on his and Houston’s shared Baptist church upbringings, and talked at length about the efforts they made to create the film that both are probably most famous for.
Here’s the full version of ‘Send Me an Angel’ from Alicia Keys at the service: