Host and director A. Curtis Farrow wouldn’t ask for a moment of silence.
“I’m a church boy,” said Farrow, “and we believe in making noise.”
As images of the Whitney Houston appeared on the Prudential Center video screens tonight, the capacity crowd at the McDonald’s Gospelfest did just that.
It was an opportunity to say another loud, long goodbye to Houston, who always considered gospel the bedrock of her sound. Nobody at McDonald’s Gospelfest, the annual celebration of devotional music that has become a spring tradition in Newark, needed to be reminded of Houston’s deep gospel roots or her local ties. But it was still gratifying to hear her sing “This Day,” one of her most powerful spiritual recordings.
Then, in tribute, Gary Houston, Whitney’s brother and a singer in his own right, led the New Hope Mass Choir in a rendition of “Let The Church Say Amen.”
A poised but plainly emotional Cissy Houston — Whitney’s mother, and a legendary church singer — had already moved the crowd with an aching rendition of the gospel standard “Deep River.” Accompanied by a small choir, Houston floated from high note to high note as if lost in a reverie. Like so many of the songs aired at Gospelfest, hers was one of perseverance through an ordeal, and a prayer for deliverance from strife. Afterward, she thanked her listeners for their cards and well-wishes. She did not mention her daughter by name, and she did not participate in the tribute
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