>>> good evening. her music moved us and whitney houston found her voice as a young girl and some of the top names gathered with her family and friends for a stirring and joyous tribute to her life. it was up with week ago the 48-year-old superstar was found dead inside a beverly hills, california, hotel room. tonight, mourners continue to leave rememberences to houston outside the new hope baptist church where earlier more than a thousand people attended the private funeral. but potentially millions of others watched on television. as the service was broadcast uninterrupted on the cable news channels. nbc's rehema ellis has more on whitney houston's emotional sendoff. good evening.
>> reporter: good evening, lester. the high spirited service lasted for almost four hours. whitney houston's only child, 18-year-old bobbi kristina and her mother cissy were joined by an invitation only family and friends. with stevie wonder and a full choir, the church made a joyful noise. new hope baptist was filled with more than a thousand people, standing room only. they celebrated whitney houston's life in a gospel music revival. clive davis discovered her voice.
>> 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.
>> reporter: kevin costner was whitney's co-star in her first movie, "the bodyguard."
>> the whitney i knew despite her success and worldwide fame 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.
>> reporter: friends like actor an movie producer tyler perry just loved her.
>> so what i know about her, she loved the lord and if that was a grace that carried her all the way through it was the same grace that carried her home.
>> reporter: singer alicia keys fought back tears.
>> she was so -- such a beautiful human being. really, really caring. beautiful, thoughtful human being. call you for no reason at all. but to see hi.
>> reporter: outside, people crowded around whatever screens they could find as an army of journalists, many from overseas, reflected whitney's worldwide fame. in this newark hair salon they focused on the jersey girl.
>> even though i see it on tv, it's unbelievable.
>> you can feel it in your body.
>> reporter: finally in the church that gave roots to her dazzling voice, it was the last voice that was heard. i will always love you
>> reporter: aretha franklin, a long-time family friend was scheduled to sing at the funeral but she did not attend. her publicist said franklin was suffering from leg spasms. bobbi brown was here, but he left early after a disagreement over seating arrangements.
>> rehema ellis, thank you.