Fans outside Houston's funeral use technology to watch, share thoughts

Fans gather in New Jersey outside the funeral for Whitney Houston.

Story highlights

  • Fans watched on TV, their laptops, and their smartphones
  • Many spoke of the impact Houston's music had on their lives
  • They called the service a beautiful and fitting tribute
A tight police cordon couldn't keep Whitney Houston's fans away from her funeral Saturday, and as they watched the service on their laptops, smartphones, and TV, they shared their emotions all online.
Fans talked of the impact Houston had on their lives, whether her music gave them the confidence to pursue a singing career or just brightened their childhood memories.
Seeing the posts of thousands of others on sites like Facebook and Twitter made some fans feel like they were part of a big community sharing the same grief and thoughts.
"It was very inspirational to see how she touched millions of lives," said Vincent Coleman, 26, who watched the service using his iPhone.
"It was just refreshing to see how she just had such a dynamic impact on the world."
New Jersey to honor Whitney Houston
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Mourning Whitney Houston online
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Another fan, Garrett Griffen, wrote on CNN's Facebook page that he was thankful the funeral service was topping the news Saturday.
"In this small moment in time a bigger audience is coming together to not only remember a great human being who had faults and worked through them, but we are also witness to the power of love and how it is greater than all suffering," he wrote.
Many fans said they enjoyed the jubilant singing by the two gospel choirs, the New Hope Baptist Church Mass Choir and the New Jersey Mass Choir, which opened the service.
They enjoyed hearing Bishop T.D. Jakes speak of victory over death, with many fans simply tweeting his words: "Death has not won."
"TD Jakes was born to preach," wrote Twitter user Banky Wellington.
Joy Malone, a photographer in New Rochelle, New York, tweeted that the music at the service was "pure beauty." That the funeral was held at New Hope Baptist, where Houston sang as a girl, was an fitting goodbye, Malone told CNN.
"We all know that she did have some rough patches in her life, but it kind of represents the full circle. This is where she came from," Malone, 31, told CNN. "It's just beautiful that she's going home here."
One Twitter user named Jodi Gomes cheered Houston's mother, gospel singer Cissy Houston: "Well done Ms. Cissy for sending your baby home this way."
Sireze Booker, 20, told CNN's iReport that he remembered his mother and sister listening to Whitney Houston's music when he was growing up, and that he eventually became a fan himself.
The music inspired and comforted him, he told CNN from DeKalb, Illinois.
"I think this is a wonderful tribute," Booker said of the service. "It's going to hit me hard probably a little later during the funeral, but this is beautiful. This is exactly what Whitney would have wanted."
A "beautiful, powerful, uplifting service" is what Facebook user Amy Richardson Peterson wrote. Nancy Dougherty-Shuryn said she was "shedding tears" watching the funeral and would later light a candle for Houston.
Jason Kanner, 42, who runs an artist management firm in New York, wrote on Twitter that the service "is giving me a big case of the sads." It was a beautiful and fitting way to remember someone whose music he enjoyed growing up, he said.
"It would just take you away from your problems at the moment. It would make you feel like everything was OK," he told CNN. "t was a rare gift of an artist to do that."
Since Houston's death a week ago, Kanner said, he and his colleagues played Houston's songs over and over on the speakers around the office.
"We just played it every day for five days on a loop," he said. "It was great."
In Quentin, Virginia, Jackie Baker credited Houston with giving her the confidence to start singing in school and church choirs.
Today, Baker, 45, sings in a band called Shake Machine that covers popular music from the '70s and '80s -- though she points out she "wouldn't dare attempt Whitney."
Baker told CNN's iReport she can remember her "absolute awe" at seeing Houston's video for "How Will I Know" for the first time. That, she said, was when her shyness disappeared.
"Thank you Whitney not just for inspiring music, but for an angel's voice that inspired all young women of the '80s and '90s era to give it all they had," Baker wrote. "You were a wonderful example to us all. I thank you from the depths of my soul."