An excerpted version:
I’m going to say some stories. Maybe some of them you know; maybe some of
them you don’t. I wrote ’em down because I didn’t want to miss anything.
The song “I Will Always Love You” almost wasn’t. It wasn’t supposed to be in the
movie. The first choice was going to be “What Becomes of a Broken Heart.” But it
had been out the year before and in another movie, and we felt that it wouldn’t
have the same impact and so we couldn’t use it.
So what becomes of our broken hearts?
Whitney returns home today, to the place where it all began, and I urge us all,
inside and outside, across the nation and around the world, to dry our tears,
suspend our sorrow, and perhaps our anger, just long enough, just long enough to
remember the sweet miracle of Whitney.
Never forgetting that Cissy and Bobbi Kristina sit among us. Your mother and I
had a lot in common.
I know many at this moment are thinking, “Really?” [ Laughter from the audience.
] “She’s a girl, you’re a boy. You’re white, she’s black. But our sister could
really sing. So what am I talking about? Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, they
don’t have anything in common at all.” Well, you’d be wrong about that.
We both grew up in the Baptist church. It wasn’t as big as this. My grandmother
played the piano, and she led the choir and her two daughters. My mother and my
aunt both sang in it . . .
I can see her in my own mind running around here as a skinny little girl,
knowing everyone, everyone’s business, knowing every inch of this place. I can
also see her in trouble, too, trying to use that beautiful smile, trying to talk
her way out of it, and Cissy not having any of it . . .
At the height of her fame as a singer, I asked her to be my co-star in a movie
called “The Bodyguard.” I thought she was the perfect choice, but the red flags
came out immediately. Maybe I should think this over a bit! [ Laughs. ]
I was reminded that this would be her first acting role. We could also think
about another singer was a suggestion. Maybe somebody white. Nobody ever said it
out loud, but it was a fair question. It was. There would be a lot riding on
this. Maybe a more experienced actress was the way to go. It was clear I really
had to think about this.
I told everyone that I had taken notice that Whitney was black. The only problem
was I thought she was perfect for what we were trying to do . . .
The Whitney I knew, despite her success and worldwide fame, still wondered: Am I
good enough? Am I pretty enough? Will they like me?
It was the burden that made her great . . .
Whitney if you could hear me now I would tell you, you weren’t just good enough
— you were great. You sang the whole damn song without a band. You made the
picture what it was.
A lot of leading men could have played my part, a lot of guys could have filled
that role, but you, Whitney, I truly believed that you were the only one who
that could have played Rachel Marin at that time. [ Applause. ]
You weren’t just pretty — you were as beautiful as a woman could be. And people
didn’t just like you, Whitney — they loved you.
I was your pretend bodyguard once not so long ago, and now you’re gone too soon,
leaving us with memories of a little girl who stepped bravely in front of this
church, in front of the ones that loved you first, in front of the ones that
loved you best and loved you the longest.
Then, boldly, you stepped into the white-hot light of the world stage, and what
you did is the rarest of achievements. You set the bar so high that professional
singers, your own colleagues, they don’t want to sing that little country song —
what would be the point?
Now the only ones who sing your songs are young girls like you who are dreaming
of being you some day.
And so to you, Bobbi Kristina, and to all those young girls who are dreaming
that dream and maybe thinking they aren’t good enough, I think Whitney would
tell you: Guard your bodies, and guard the precious miracle of your own life,
and then sing your hearts out — knowing that there’s a lady in heaven who is
making God Himself wonder how he created something so perfect.
So off you go, Whitney, off you go . . . escorted by an army of angels to your
Heavenly Father. And when you sing before Him, don’t you worry — you’ll be good