The music diva was mourned at the landmark marquee at the Apollo Theater in Harlem called her “A True Music Icon.”
On Sunday afternoon, a bouquet of pink roses was at the entrance, attached to a sign reading “RIP Whitney.” Also written on the sign were part of the lyrics to “Yes, Jesus Loves Me,” a gospel tune that Houston sang in her last public performance during a pre-Grammy party.
Harlem’s Sean Combs recalled sitting beside her at a BET Awards ceremony.
“She was there for a good time,” he said. “She always hit you with that beautiful smile. She gave you that grandma hug that shook your body. … She was not a hater, she was a congratulator. To hear her sing was like listening to magic.”
The Harlem resident Rev. Al Sharpton remembered Houston.
“Yes, she had an outstanding range,” he said. “Yes, she could hit notes no one else could reach. But what made her different was she was born and bred in the bosom of the black church.”
“A lot of artists can hit notes but they don’t hit us. Say words but they have no meaning. Have gifts and talent but no anointing. Something about Whitney that would reach in you and make you feel,” Sharpton said.
A couple of tourists passed by, stopping to read the marquee honoring Houston and look at the bouquet atop the Apollo lettering at the entrance.
“Wow,” said J.B. Quemon, 37, of Paris. “She was a diva. International.”
His friend, Melanie Girard, 26, also of Paris: “She was the top, beautiful. But she lost herself.”
Houston died Saturday in a hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 48. The cause of death is unknown. Her death came on the night before music’s biggest showcase, the Grammys.
Houston was a New Jersey native who got her start singing at church and went on to become an international superstar.