Two women pause Saturday near a memorial to singer Whitney Houston at the… (Mel Evans/Associated Press )
Whitney Houston's funeral, described as a "home going celebration," is unfolding in her childhood church with gospel tributes and eulogies from celebrities, including Kevin Costner, who described her as “beautiful as a woman could be.”
Gospel singer BeBe Winans said he would miss "crazy Whitney." And Alicia Keys sang “Send Me An Angel” after telling how her friend Whitney made her and other artists feel “strong and capable and loved.”
The private funeral, broadcast live online from New Hope Baptist Church, brought out thousands of family members, friends and fans to the church on what started as a gray, drizzly day.
PHOTOS: Whitney Houston's funeral
Amid the tears and mournful remarks from Newark Mayor Corey Booker and filmmaker Tyler Perry, there were moments of comedy.
When Winans took to the church's podium with his sister, CeCe, he said people have focused on Houston's talents, but what he really will miss is "crazy Whitney."
At that quip, laughter broke out in the church.
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Kevin Costner, Houston's "Bodyguard" co-star, also took to the podium.
He told those assembled, "I urge us all... to dry our tears, suspend our sorrows and, perhaps our anger, just long enough to remember the sweet miracle of Whitney, never forgetting that Cissy and Bobbi Kristina sit among us."
Costner said he and Houston were more similar than people might think.
"We both grew up in the Baptist church," he said, sharing anecdotes about how his upbringing paralleled that of Houston's.
He also shared how he supported Houston even while she had doubts over her performance in the 1992 film.
"You, Whitney, are the only one who could have played Rachel Marron at that time," he said. "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."
Filmmaker Perry said that after a 4-1/2-hour meeting with Houston in Atlanta, he was struck by how Houston seemed to be blessed.
"There was a grace that carried her," he said. "A grace that brought her up through singing ... the same grace that led her all the way to the top."
Before a she played her set on a grand piano, R&B singer Alicia Keys said Houston called her "Keys on the keys" and shared how they came up for nicknames for each other and how the late singer "crept into everybody's hearts."
Among those at the funeral were Houston’s ex-husband, Bobby Brown, cousin Dionne Warwick, Ray J, Brandy, and Keys.
Houston died Feb. 11 in Beverly Hills at age 48. Her body arrived in New Jersey late Monday. She will be buried at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, N.J., where her father is interred, according to her death certificate.
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