Credit: Samir Hussein/Getty Images Photo: The World Mourns the Loss of Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston's funeral earlier today in Newark, New Jersey was a sad occasion, but also a joyful one, as Whitney's family and friends stepped out to celebrate the extraordinary life of the recently departed singer. Although Whitney's ex-husband, Bobby Brown, ultimately did not stay at the ceremony, plenty of other celebrity guests were seen paying their respects. 

Spotted at the service were the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was one of the first to arrive, followed by American Idol winner and Whitney's Sparkle castmate Jordin Sparks, who was shortly followed by her fellow A-list songbird Mary J. Blige. (Aretha Franklin, who was slated to perform, was unable to do so due to injury.) Newark mayor Cory Booker delivered a few remarks, as did Whitney's dear friend Tyler Perry, who described Whitney's "grace that brought her up through singing." Kevin Costner also gave a touching speech, as seen in the video below, about working with Whitney on the set of The Bodyguard.

Later in the afternoon, Alicia Keys filled in for Aretha Franklin with a touching performance of "Prelude to a Kiss," while music mogul Clive Davis described Whitney's "searing battles" before calling her "a loyal friend" and "simply one of a kind." Stevie Wonder told the crowd that he "had a little crush on Whitney," then performed at the piano, while R. Kelly performed Whitney's gospel-tinged comeback anthem "I Look to You."

As for a sendout? The soundsystem played Whitney's most iconic smash, "I Will Always Love You," as the audience streamed out of the church. All-in-all, a touching tribute to one of music's biggest stars.

Source: E! Online

Credit: Newsy Photo: Watch! Kevin Costner's Unforgettable Speech at Whitney Houston's Funeral (VIDEO)

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