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Star-Filled Guest List at Whitney Houston`s Funeral; Bobby Brown`s Emotional Tribute to Whitney Houston; Ray J Breaks His Silence About Whitney

Aired February 17, 2012 - 23:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, HOST: Big news breaking tonight on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT - farewell to Whitney Houston. Tonight, the stunning new revelations about tomorrow`s funeral for one of music`s greatest legends.


Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the brand-new details about the incredible star-filled guest list.


NISCHELLE TURNER, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT CORRESPONDENT: I`m Nischelle Turner with the dramatic scene outside the church where Whitney Houston will be eulogized on Saturday. And as you can see, the emotion here is overwhelming.


HAMMER: Tonight, eyewitness to Bobby Brown. Bobby Brown`s powerful brand- new tribute to his ex-wife.


BOBBY BROWN, SINGER: I love her like I love God.


HAMMER: Tonight, the Whitney Houston insider who was right there for a remarkable SHOWBIZ newsmaker interview.

TV`s most provocative entertainment news show breaks news right now.


Hello. Thank you for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York with big news breaking tonight and a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT exclusive with the man responsible for some of Whitney Houston`s greatest successes.

Tomorrow, of course, the world will say farewell to Whitney, exactly one week after we got the still unbelievable news that she had died in a Beverly Hills hotel room.

And this was a somber day at her hometown church in Newark, New Jersey, where her family, friends, and some of the biggest stars in the world will all gather for her funeral.

I`m going to be right there for HLN`s live coverage of the funeral all day tomorrow along with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Nischelle Turner who has spent the day today at the church where the funeral will take place. Nischelle?

TURNER: Hey, A.J. You know, it`s just surprising how so many stars will be here tomorrow and performing for the funeral, including stars like Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder.

Someone else that will be here, though - Rickey Minor. Do you know that name? Well, Rickey is the band leader for the "Tonight Show" and will actually oversee all of the performances at the funeral tomorrow.

Now, Rickey was Whitney`s longtime musical director and he orchestrated some of her most memorable public performances including her legendary rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl back in 1991.

Now, when I spoke with him exclusively this afternoon, he told me that moment that would change her life forever.


(on camera) You know, I guess the first thing - so many people know you from "American Idol." They know you from the leader of the "Tonight Show" band with Jay Leno. But I don`t think a lot of people knew you as Whitney Houston`s friend and musical director for so many years. How did you guys meet?

RICKEY MINOR, BAND LEADER, "TONIGHT SHOW": Yes. Well, I got a call to come out that this girl who sings in a church in Newark, New Jersey, 18 years old, was trying to get a record deal and come out to L.A., and would I put together a band for her.

And I was 22. I was working with Gladys Knight and the Pips, so I already kind of felt like, OK, you know, I kind of got in the business. And she came to L.A. and we did the showcase and no one showed up.

TURNER: To Whitney Houston`s show?

MINOR: To Whitney Houston`s showcase. You know, there was - back then, it was about groups. And you know, it was Blondie. People wanted - if it`s a girl, she`s got to be the leader of a band, you know, the lead singer of a band.

TURNER: And nobody knew who she was.

MINOR: Well, I think that - you know, look, I mean, the record companies had an invitation, but it wasn`t a priority. They were looking for, you know - it was Shalomar, The Whispers.

And I don`t think, you know - a few people peeked in a room, but it wasn`t - they weren`t record execs. It was people like - where`s that voice coming from?

TURNER: You recognized the voice, though. Even though nobody showed up, you knew something was special about her voice?

MINOR: Well, I mean, yes. She opens up her mouth and, like, the angels, like, sing, and the skies open up. I mean, heaven just rejoices in that. You know, she`s just touching, you know, like every word, you know.

And a year later, Clive Davis called and said, "I signed her." They said, "You put the band together." We want to do it again and showcase her for the producers and songwriters of that time.

You know, it`s just that first - she sang "I want to Be Where You Are" - Michael Jackson. You know, and that`s a high note. I mean, "I Want to Be Where You Are," the high note and every time, you know, just did it. You know? Yes.

TURNER: And you guys became friends?


MINOR: Yes. I mean, you know, we talked after that and about what she was doing, what she wanted to do. And we both wanted to just be excellent - you know, be excellent. And it just - it happened, you know?

TURNER: So how did you become her musical director? How did that happen?

MINOR: Yes. So John Simmons is a guy who called me. He was her piano player. And I think he played here - he grew up in Yonkers and he played here.

And so when it was time for Whitney to go on tour after those showcases, he called me up and said, "Whitney wants you back to do the tour." And he was her music director. And -

TURNER: Whitney wants you to come back -

MINOR: Yes, to come back and do the tour and play bass on the tour. And so I left - at that time, I`d already done a lot of other acts and this is 1986. And I came back and the record was out.

You know, she had taken a couple years to make a great record. And he died a couple years after that of AIDS. And she called me up and says, "I`m going to need you." At that time, I was on tour with Al Jarreau. I was, you know - I mean, I`m always moving.

TURNER: But Whitney said, "I need you."

MINOR: "I need you. I`m going to need you."


MINOR: And -

TURNER: You dropped everything?

MINOR: No, I told her I was on tour with Al Jarreau. And she said - she says - I said, "Actually, we`re coming to Radio City. You should come to the show." And then - and she said, "I`ll come to the show."

She came to the show. Everyone was like, you know, Whitney Houston is at this show, you know? And she came backstage and she says, "You`re coming with me." You know, just like that. I mean, just so, so sassy. You know?

TURNER: And you went.

MINOR: And I went. I was like, listen, you don`t say no to Whitney Houston. It`s just like saying no to the queen. You can`t say no - you don`t say it. You just - you don`t even fix your mouth. You just say how high?

I mean, I think in - you know, so I was with her from years `89 to `99 and we continued to do, you know, television specials, you know, "VH1 Divas" and different TV shows.

TURNER: But the watershed moment was `91.

MINOR: It was `91.


MINOR: Yes. 1991 - actually 1990, I got the call. The super bowl, 1991 national anthem. And Whitney was so excited to sing that time.

TURNER: Was she nervous?

MINOR: You know, the thing about music and art and all that is that there is a certain amount of nerves you have to have. You have to have these butterflies in order to really kind of reach deep down.

But for the most part, we`re just going about the day, doing what we do. You know, it`s at that level where we have a commitment to excellence. We have no idea - the impact.

You know, we want to make an impact, but there`s no way to really be nervous about. It`s like, OK, I`m going to go and sing the national anthem. It`s the national anthem.

TURNER: I mean, she was just - she was just like, "OK, I`m going to go do this at the Super Bowl"?

MINOR: Yes. Yes. No, but at the same time - I mean, a performance is a performance. And every time you want to leave it all right there, you want to just go out there and leave it, everything you have right there. I mean, you want to be totally empty, you know, when you leave.

TURNER: Well, take me back to that night, because for all of us who watched it, it still gives me goose bumps to see that. It still gives me chills to hear that.

MINOR: It not only gives me goose bumps to hear it even if it`s a week or year or over and over again. To think of it gives me goose bumps because it was - it was literally a performance of a lifetime.

It was the game-changer. It was and still in my opinion arguably one of the most incredible renditions of it ever. You know -

TURNER: It was the best. So let`s just say -

MINOR: It was the best.

TURNER: It was the best.

MINOR: Let me just say this. The production, OK, great. The arrangement, great.

TURNER: You did it.

MINOR: No, no, no - great. But that`s nothing without that vocal. That vocal on top of that is what takes it over the edge. I mean, people will produce great records and they`ll write great songs. But if you don`t have that voice, that voice to put on it, then it`s nothing.

TURNER: Did she get it, that moment? Did she get, like, how phenomenal that was?

MINOR: Again, that moment, none of us did. It was only - you know - I mean, it wasn`t the age of Twitter and Facebook and everything now. So it took a time for it to get out to the press and for us to get back that it was what it was.

And we were together on Thursday, February 9th. And she came by rehearsal for a few hours. And we just talked about everything, but we always say that that moment was our moment. You know, that moment is probably - if you look back at your career, that was one of the turning points for both of our careers.


HAMMER: Now, Nischelle, I understand that Rickey and Whitney have been friends for so long. He knew her actually before she met Bobby Brown.

But today, you asked him to finally set the record straight about Whitney and Bobby`s much talked-about relationship. Stay where you are. I want to hear all about that.

And now, we move on to Bobby Brown`s emotional tribute to his ex-wife.


BROWN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for Whitney. That`s my love.


HAMMER: Tonight, eyewitness to Bobby Brown. The Whitney Houston insider who was right there is right here for a remarkable SHOWBIZ newsmaker interview. Plus, Whitney in her own words tonight.


WHITNEY HOUSTON, SINGER: My mother always used to tell me, "Above all, to thine own self be true." And that`s kind of what I want to teach Bobbi Kris, you know.


HAMMER: We`ve heard about Whitney`s incredible life from so many of her friends and fellow celebrities. And now, we hear it from the legend herself the night before she`s laid to rest. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN news and views.

The Black Eyed Peas` Fergie tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that Whitney was one of her biggest influences from the time she was a little girl.


FERGIE, SINGER: I remember watching the Grammys as a little girl and seeing her, this shining star up on stage and just being so iconic.

She was such an inspiration to me. I used to practice all of her songs, "All At Once," "Greatest Love of All." I knew every note, every word. I mean, that album was just such a classic for me.




BROWN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Whitney. That`s my love. You have to move on sometimes. I love her like I love God.


HAMMER: A powerful tribute to Whitney Houston by her ex-husband, Bobby Brown. That was during a New Edition concert just last night in Maryland, this as Whitney`s family and friends get ready to lay the star to rest. Of course, HLN will cover the funeral live tomorrow with coverage starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York with Bobby Brown`s tribute to Whitney. Bobby performed last night just hours after we learned that he would definitely be going to Whitney Houston`s funeral tomorrow.

Entertainment and lifestyle journalist, John Murray, was right there at the concert last night. He`s with us from Washington tonight.

And John, I have to imagine, there was a lot of anticipation before this show last night about whether or not Bobby would say anything at all.

And here, right now, we`re looking at the video that you shot at the concert. And when Bobby did say something, we heard him say, "I love her like I love God." Give me a sense of how emotional he was last night.

JOHN MURRAY, ENTERTAINMENT AND LIFESTYLE JOURNALIST: Well, before he even took the mike to talk, A.J., the room was electrified when he hit the stage. The place erupted. I mean, it was standing ovation, a thunderous applause.

And that was the first time that he acknowledged Whitney Houston during the show. And it was definitely emotional. You know, it was a time during the show where each of the individual New Edition members all greeted the crowd and introduced themselves as if the crowd doesn`t know who they are.

But again, at the end of the show, A.J., right before the group closed out with their song, "Home Again," Bobby asked if he could have a moment. And again, he acknowledged Whitney.

But Bobby asked those who know how to pray to set up a prayer for Whitney`s family, for Bobbi Kristina and everybody involved in this. He said it was a tough time. He got really, really emotional again and began to cry.

And the crowd began to applaud. And his group member, Johnny Gill, got up and admonished everybody there to pray for Bobby because he`s had a really, really, really tough week.

HAMMER: Sure. And I imagine that`s a big part of the reason the crowd applauded so thunderously when he first walked out on stage. It was sort of out of support for him.

But you`ve been to Bobby Brown New Edition concerts before, John. Did you get the sense when they were applauding and cheering before one word was spoken that it was almost as if it was for Whitney, herself?

MURRAY: Yes. You know, it`s a combination. Here`s the deal. The media has a problem with Bobby Brown, but the consumers and fans have always adored him.

Bobby is the industry`s bad boy and the fans have enjoyed that aspect of his life. So they`ve always supported him. They`ve always rooted for him and wanted to see him have a major comeback effort.

And so Bobby has been performing with New Edition for years. You know, they`ve been doing spot dates here and there. And when not as a collective group - individually, certain fragments of the group would go out and perform and play sold out audiences all over the country.

But because of the death of Whitney Houston, it`s getting a level of attention that it never got before. And so all eyes are on Bobby and people just want to see him do well because, you know, there`s all this talk about whether Whitney won with sobriety. People want to see Bobby win with sobriety.

HAMMER: It`s interesting because, you know, you bring up a good point that Bobby Brown, regardless of his relationship with Whitney, certainly has a corps of fans and has for a long time.

I believe I bought a vinyl copy of "Cool It Now" in 1983. So it was even before we knew the name Whitney Houston. But what really struck me when I watched what Bobby Brown said was how he really seemed to be almost celebrating her life. Let`s watch.


BROWN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Whitney. That`s my love. You have to move on sometimes. I love her like I love God.


HAMMER: You know, John, I hear that and it`s almost as if it reinforces the idea that Bobby really never got over Whitney.

MURRAY: Let me tell you, they had a very friendly post-divorce situation. They were photographed having dinner together with Bobbi Kristina and his new fiancee, Alicia, just weeks before she died.

So they weren`t healthy as a couple. They weren`t healthy together in marriage. But they loved each other and they remained friends.

He also acknowledged his own family, because he said, "Without Alicia -" and he had three of his kids. His three-year-old child, Kathy, was with him last night. They were there with him as well.

And he said they`ve been loving him through this week. They`ve been supporting him, because you turn on one show and they say Bobby is not invited to the funeral. You turn on the next show and they say Bobby shouldn`t be allowed near their daughter because he wants money.

And then they complain about him for going to work and doing the show. So the guy can`t win for losing, A.J.

HAMMER: You know, you`ve got a point. And now, we know he`ll be at the funeral. We know he`ll perform tomorrow night at his own concert after the funeral.

And you know, I`m betting that`s pretty therapeutic for him. John Murray, we`ll leave it there. Thank you so much.

HAMMER: So did Whitney`s love for Bobby also endure? Tonight, Whitney`s close friend, Rickey Minor, gives us his side of this, telling SHOWBIZ TONIGHT about Whitney and Bobby`s very special relationship.


MINOR: I know that she really loved him and I know he really loved her, and so anything else between them is really that. It`s between them.


HAMMER: The must-see SHOWBIZ newsmaker interview with Whitney`s musical director, Rickey Minor.

Plus, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT reveals the startling brand new details about Whitney`s funeral. I`m going to tell you which fellow music legends, former co-stars and family members will be paying tribute to Whitney tomorrow. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN news and views.

Whitney`s influence on fans and stars crossed generations. From Diana Ross to Britney Spears, Whitney made a lasting impression.


DIANA ROSS, SINGER: She just had such an incredible voice. And you know, she`s just a beautiful, beautiful face. I remember the first time I saw her, first on records. Just a beautiful girl.

BRITNEY SPEARS, POP STAR: I was the biggest fan of her. She influenced me so much growing up and it`s really devastating and shocking, really shocking.

They`ll definitely be in our prayers, you know. She sent so much love out to the world and she was an inspiration for so many people. And you know, we`re there with her.



HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. And today, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is right outside the church in Newark, New Jersey where Whitney Houston will be eulogized tomorrow.

We`re right there on the ground showing you all of the details that the world is waiting to see.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Nischelle Turner has been walking through the crowds of people there and she has all of the amazing details about Whitney`s final farewell. Nischelle what`s going on?

TURNER: We`re here in Newark, New Jersey, just down the street from the New Hope Baptist Church. This is where Whitney Houston`s funeral will be tomorrow.

Now, I`m here at the end of the street where this barricade is to show you, at this point, this is as far as anyone can drive in.

If you take a look around, you see the traffic all of the traffic here, all of the cars parked around here. There are people trying to get in and trying to get out. The Newark police tell fans, "Please, don`t try to come to this area tomorrow."

They`re encouraging you to stay at home, stay away from this area because even though you can drive up here right now, tomorrow, you`ll probably be kept even further away.

But until then, Whitney Houston fans are still coming here to the church where the makeshift memorial to Whitney Houston is growing every day - cards, flowers, expressions of love that fans are leaving here for Whitney. People coming from everywhere.

Ma`am, can I ask you a question real quick? What`s your name?

HALIMA(ph), WHITNEY HOUSTON FAN: My name is Halima(ph).

TURNER: Why are you here?


TURNER: You loved her.

HALIMA: I loved her, yes.

TURNER: You loved her music.

HALIMA: Yes, ma`am.

TURNER: And this story has echoed many times here. You see fans just coming. They want to pay their tribute in any way they can.

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Nischelle Turner, thanks. Nischelle and I are going to be right outside the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey tomorrow. We`re covering every detail of Whitney`s last goodbye.

You will want to be right here with us for all of that. HLN`s coverage of Whitney Houston`s special farewell starts tomorrow morning, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, and again, right here on HLN.

Time now for the SHOWBIZ lineup - this is what we`ve got coming up at the bottom of the hour on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

One of Whitney Houston`s closest friends breaks his silence about her tragic death. Today, reality TV star and singer Ray J. opening up about his heartbreaking loss.

And another longtime friend of Whitney`s, musical director, Rickey Minor, setting the record straight about Whitney`s enduring love for Bobby Brown.


MINOR: I know she really loved him and I know he really loved her. And so anything else between them is really that - it`s between them.


HAMMER: It`s a colossal SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsmaker interview with the man who`s planning Whitney`s musical tribute tomorrow. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN news and views.

Country music star, Miranda Lambert, tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Whitney`s music transcended all genres.


MIRANDA LAMBERT, COUNTRY MUSIC STAR: She did a Dolly Parton song and did it so beautifully. And it just shows you how that they`re related, country and R & B because the song was so beautiful both ways.

And she - you know, people have asked me, "Do you ever cover Whitney?" And I`m like, no. I wouldn`t dare. I couldn`t. But I mean, she`s just the epitome of what a female artist should be.



HAMMER: Big news breaking tonight on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT - inside the star- studded farewell to Whitney. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT uncovers the brand- new details about the stars who are gathering tomorrow to say goodbye.

Plus, a SHOWBIZ exclusive. Whitney Houston`s good friend, Rickey Minor, reveals Whitney`s true love for Bobby Brown.


MINOR: I know that she really loved him and I know he really loved her. And so anything else between them is really that - it`s between them.


HAMMER: Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT goes one-on-one with Rickey Minor who is planning a musical tribute to Whitney. He takes us inside the farewell to Whitney and shares his remarkable memories about his legendary friend.

ANNOUNCER: TV`s most provocative entertainment news show continues right now.


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ tonight. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. Thank you for watching. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is bringing you the remarkable new information we learned today about the farewell to Whitney Houston tomorrow.

Whitney`s funeral will be held at her hometown church in New Jersey. I`m going to be right there along with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s when HLN`s live coverage begins. That starts at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

It seems hard to believe that tomorrow we`ll be one week since we learned of Whitney`s death. And tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is revealing what the world can expect tomorrow, including the incredible number of the world`s biggest stars all coming to say farewell to Whitney.


(voice-over) It was the church where a young Whitney Houston got her start sharing her unique voice with the world. Now, the church where the world first said hello to Whitney`s booming voice will be where the world will say goodbye.

Whitney`s funeral will be held here at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, Saturday exactly one week after she died suddenly in Los Angeles.

CHARLOTTE TRIGGS, STAFF WRITER, "PEOPLE": Whitney Houston`s funeral is going to be a huge deal tomorrow.

HAMMER: And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you Whitney`s family, her fellow singing legends, former co-stars, and her famous ex-husband are planning to mourn and celebrate this musical superstar.

TRIGGS: Whitney worked with so many people over the years and it`s like she remained close with many of them. So a lot of the stars that she worked with over time are going to be turning up to pay their respects.

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has learned Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder will sing at the funeral as will Whitney`s godmother, legendary Aretha Franklin.

AL ROKER, "TODAY" SHOW: How difficult is that going to be for you?

ARETHA FRANKLIN, SINGER: It`s not going to be easy.

HAMMER: This morning on the "Today" show, a grieving Aretha Franklin said it`s going to be hard to say goodbye to the young girl she watched grow into a superstar.

FRANKLIN: I can tell you that, it`s not going to be easy what Cissy asked me to, and I`m going to try to do my best.

BEBE WINANS, SINGER: Everyone adored her talent and I recognized her talent, but I loved her.

HAMMER: Gospel singer and Whitney`s longtime friend BeBe Winans tells me his sister, CeCe Winans plans to sing a song that was especially close to Whitney`s heart.

WINANS: There`s a song I wrote, "Don`t Cry For Me." Whitney performed it many times. And there`s a lyric that said, "My death was meant to be, so don`t carry guilt and shame, the reason why I came, soon you`ll see, don`t cry for me."


WINANS: It is so right. It`s something that Whitney would say.

HAMMER: Another famous figure from Whitney`s past will be at her funeral.

HOUSTON: You don`t look like a bodyguard.

KEVIN COSTNER, ACTOR: What did you expect?

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has confirmed Kevin Costner, who co-starred with Whitney Houston in her movie debut, "The Bodyguard," will be speaking at the funeral.

TRIGGS: Well, Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston became friends on the set of "The Bodyguard." And you know, they did ultimately fall out of touch in the last few years, but he was very supportive of her over the years.

The Houstons really considered him to be a family friend and it meant something to them to have him speak at her funeral.

HAMMER: Performing with his group, New Edition, last night in Maryland, Whitney`s ex-husband, Bobby Brown, paid tribute to her.

BROWN: That`s my love.

HAMMER: And despite earlier reports that Whitney Houston`s family had banned Brown from the funeral, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has learned he will, indeed, be there.

TRIGGS: The family does want him to be there and he wants to be there.

HAMMER: For the sake of Bobby and Whitney`s 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, everyone`s putting aside the bad blood that erupted in the media after Whitney`s death.

TRIGGS: And that was really just a grieving process, so they do want him to be present and to help Bobbi Kristina through this.

HAMMER: So it looks like this sad occasion is bringing together a wide variety of people from Whitney`s extraordinary life. As BeBe Winans tells me, Whitney deserves nothing less.

WINANS: She`s going to be surrounded by people who absolutely loved and adored her for who she was and for the heart that she shared. We`ll cry. We`ll laugh. We`ll do all those things because that`s who she was.


HAMMER: So many stars, so many people who loved Whitney. Tomorrow`s funeral promises to be such an emotional and stirring tribute. And Nischelle and I are going right there on the scene in Newark to bring it all to you.

Be sure to tune into HLN tomorrow. We`re going to have live coverage of the farewell to Whitney, getting underway at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

Well, with performances at the funeral by everyone from Stevie Wonder to Aretha Franklin to Alicia Keys, the funeral for Whitney Houston is also expected to be a sublime musical tribute to her life.

And tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is speaking exclusively with the man who is overseeing all of the musical performances. Rickey Minor, who is the band leader, of course, for "The Tonight Show" and was Whitney`s longtime musical director.

This afternoon, he spoke exclusively with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Nischelle Turner at the church where the funeral will be held. Nischelle, he`s got quite a task tomorrow.

TURNER: Yes, A.J. You know, we spoke just outside, sitting on the steps here at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey.

Now, Rickey and Whitney - they are longtime friends. And I asked him to just set the record straight about Whitney`s relationship with then-husband Bobby Brown.


(on camera) You were with her when she met and fell in love with Bobby. And so many people have so many opinions about it, but one thing that I`ve always heard is that, boy, she loved Bobby Brown. Was that - I mean, you saw her fall in love with him, right?

MINOR: Yes. I mean, you know, I was - Whitney had a birthday party and Bobby came to the birthday party. And he danced and he danced with her and everyone danced.

And I think that she - I know that she really loved him and I know he really loved her. And so anything else between them is really that - it`s between them. What I witnessed is their love for each other and that`s really what matters.

TURNER: You know, we`ve talked so much about Whitney, the singer. What about Whitney, the woman?

MINOR: You know, Whitney Houston, for me, was my sister, you know. And so we laughed. We cried. We fought. We made up, you know. And - but all through everything, she was a fighter. And she fought for me and I`ll continue to fight for her.


HAMMER: Nischelle, I love seeing how Rickey`s relationship with Whitney grew from producer originally and a singer to this genuine, lifelong friendship.


HAMMER: Did he tell you anything about the musical performances that are going to be happening that he`s directing at the funeral tomorrow?

TURNER: You know what, A.J., honestly, Rickey was a little leery to go there with me. He said that he felt like he just kind of wanted to stay apart from that and not confirm anything that maybe the family hadn`t talked about.

But what he did tell me was he wanted to make it clear that it was the New Jersey mass choir that was going to perform tomorrow and not the Mississippi mass choir.

That had been a little confusion, so that`s what he did say. But he did say it would be a great home going sendoff for Whitney Houston.

HAMMER: Yes. And I can understand him wanting to keep it private for the family until they choose to speak out about it. Thanks so much, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Nischelle Turner. We`ll see you in just a moment.

Another big star and dear friend to Whitney Houston, BeBe Winans, opens up to me about his personal heartbreak and what he`ll miss most about Whitney Houston.


WINANS: What I`ll miss the most is the phone would ring, either if I was calling her or she was calling me, and I would say, hello? I would hear - how you doing?


HAMMER: Gospel legend, BeBe Winans, revealing his close ties with the singing icon and how he and his family plan to say goodbye at her funeral tomorrow. My emotional SHOWBIZ newsmaker interview with the amazing BeBe Winans.

And Ray J breaks his silence. Ray J, who was with Whitney in the days before her death speaks out today for the very first time. His painful words about losing Whitney.

Tonight, the stars remember Whitney Houston. Singer John Legend tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT why Whitney was simply one of a kind.


JOHN LEGEND, SINGER: I bought her record when I was a little kid. You know, it was one of my early purchases, like a cassette purchase. As I`ve grown older and we`ve grown into an era where I feel like most popular singers can`t really sing, Whitney Houston could really, really sing.

And she was beautiful and she had great songs. You know, she had the whole thing. So we lost somebody amazing.



HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. Tonight, Whitney Houston in her own words. We`ve now heard tributes from Whitney`s family friends. We`ve been hearing them all week long.

But tonight, the night before she is laid to rest, there may be no better tribute than to hear from the legend herself. Here now, Whitney Houston in her own words about her life, her baby girl, Bobbi Kristina, and the voice.


HOUSTON: When we started, it was about what fit with my voice, what song did. And when Clive heard me sing "The Greatest Love" which was the first song he kind of like grasped on to and said, "OK, that`s where we`re going to go. We finally got someone who can sing great ballads."


So I am proud to carry that torch, you know what I`m saying? I`m proud of that. When you`re doing it, you give the best you`ve got. I worked really hard, you know, and I gave it all I had, you know. And that`s all you can expect. I feel humbled.

I feel blessed to have, you know, received all of these accolades. I mean, that`s - I don`t know, that`s the way I feel. I fell in love with a great man, and I thought, I think I`ll have his baby. No, I`m only kidding.

But no, I did fall in love with a great man and decided I`d like to have some kids, you know. But I don`t know. I just thought maybe it would be nice to have somebody carry me on.

It`s not a comeback for me. I`ve been here. I`ve just been here. I just took a break, you know, which sometimes you have to. You have to know when to slow that train down and kind of just sit back and just relax for a minute.

I just wanted time to be - for my daughter to look at my eyes and to know that I was mommy and not the lady on TV. You know what I`m saying? That was very important to me.

My mother used to always tell me, "Above all, to thine own self be true." And that`s kind of like what I want to teach Bobbi Kris, you know? Be true to herself.

You can fool people. You can fool anybody anytime of the day, but you can`t fool yourself. At night, when you go home, you`ve got to be straight up with you.


HAMMER: Really amazing to see Whitney in her own words there. And of course, we`re all thinking of Whitney`s mother and daughter tonight.

Well, somebody who will be right there with Bobbi Kris and Cissy Houston is their dear family friend, BeBe Winans. BeBe and the Winans family have been very close with the Houstons for decades now.

BeBe`s brother is Grammy Award winning Gospel singer, Marvin Winans and he will be leading the eulogy at the funeral tomorrow. He was asked to do so by Whitney`s mom, Cissy.

BeBe has performed with Whitney so many times over the years. And tonight, in a SHOWBIZ newsmaker interview, BeBe shares with me the personal pain the Houston family is going through right now and the emotional tributes he and his family are planning for Whitney`s service.


(on camera) It`s great to hear from you that CeCe, you, I imagine other members of your family will be singing as well. Any sense of what you will sing, what healing songs you`ll be choosing to perform?

WINANS: I`m going to - there was a song I wrote - this is hard. But there`s a song I wrote called "Don`t Cry for Me." And it`s a song that CeCe sang and Whitney performed it many times in various countries.

And she would call and say, "I`m singing `don`t Cry for Me.`" And CeCe`s going to sing that. She`s going to do her best to sing it. And in that lyric, it says - you know, it talks about life.

And there`s a lyric that says, "My death was meant to be, so don`t carry guilt and shame. The reason why I came, soon you will see. Don`t cry for me."

And it is so - it is so right. It`s something that Whitney would say, so she`s going to sing that. I`m going to sing a song that I actually wrote for my brother that simply says, "I`ll miss you. I`ll miss your smile. I`ll miss your wit, your charm," you know.

And most of all, most importantly, I`ll miss that time that we shared together when there was nothing else to do and there was nowhere else to go.

HAMMER: Obviously, BeBe, everybody`s mind is on Bobbi Kristina, Whitney`s daughter, right now. It`s been a tough time. She was hospitalized twice. Understandably, this is just an impossible situation.

Fortunately, we know she has good, strong people around her. Can you give us any sense of how she`s doing right now?

WINANS: Well, you know, Whitney and our family, as you stated, was really tied together. Whitney was my daughter`s godmother, you know, and my daughter is having a hard time. CeCe is Bobbi Kristina`s godmother.

And Bobbi Kristina, through this whole time, she`s walked with CeCe and we`re there for her. And she knows we`re there for her. Is it difficult? I`m sure.

I don`t know all that she`s dealing with because I haven`t lost my mother. But she knows that she`s loved and she has the support. But at this point, she`s mourning.

She`s lost the most important person to her, and - but we`re there to hold her and she`s doing better. She`ll make it through.

HAMMER: Shall we revisit some good Whitney memories right now?

WINANS: Hey, hey.

HAMMER: Let`s - can we put up the pictures, Charles, that we have from back in the day? Look at you, guys. Is that you? Was that really - there we go.

WINANS: Oh, I was a little bit chunkier.

HAMMER: Look at you guys right there.

WINANS: I was a little bit chunkier.

HAMMER: What do you want - I mean, look at that smile. Look at the glow. And Whitney`s, too.

WINANS: You know - look at that one.

HAMMER: What do you want people to remember about her most? Because obviously, we go to the voice instantly. That`s what we knew as fans. But coming from somebody who was family to this woman?

WINANS: She was funny. She was funny. And you know what, more than anything, she was real. She was real. Even though the Whitney, the superstar Whitney, was this - nippy was this. And so she was real. She loved people.

She loved what she, you know, did and loved to sing. But what I`ll miss the most is the phone would ring, either if I was calling her or she was calling me, and I would say hello, I would hear - how you doing?

You know, we sung to each other. That is what I`ll miss. Those moments on the phone where we would sing whatever we wanted to say to each other.

HAMMER: It was her favorite way to communicate, wasn`t it?

WINANS: Oh, yes, it was her favorite way. It was a part of who she was.


HAMMER: It is so great to hear BeBe`s words on Whitney. Tonight, singer Ray J was always by Whitney Houston`s side in the days before her death. Tonight, Ray J is breaking his silence.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT reveals his very first words about losing her and why it`s taken him so long to speak out. Ray J`s heart wrenching farewell to Whitney. I`ve got that for you next. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN news and views.

Tonight, the stars remember Whitney Houston. Toni Braxton reveals to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT how much she idolized Whitney Houston.


TONI BRAXTON, SINGER: I wanted to be like her. I always wanted to sing like that. Never could though, but, you know, she was a wonderful person, always giving of herself. But you know, her music will live forever. She`ll forever be a superstar - forever.

TURNER: She was.

BRAXTON: Superstar. Yes. They don`t make them like that anymore.



HAMMER: Whitney Houston`s close friend and reality TV star and singer, Ray J has released his very first statement on her death. His words coming now almost a week after Whitney`s sudden passing.

In the statement, here`s what Ray J says, "Over the past few days I`ve tried to process the emptiness that I am experiencing. What my heart feels cannot be expressed in words. The world lost an icon, but I lost my close friend."

"Nippy, I miss you so much. You were so happy and full of love. Your smile will live on in my heart forever."

Such emotional words. What a tough time it must be for Ray J. Let me go back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Nischelle Turner, who is right outside the Newark, New Jersey church, that will hold Whitney`s funeral tomorrow.

Also joining us, Jane Velez-Mitchell. Jane`s show, of course, airs weeknights here on HLN.

Nischelle, I know this has been an unbearable time for Ray J and everyone close to Whitney. But are you surprised at all that we didn`t hear from him sooner? He and Whitney were very close. And as you know, some reports even had them romantically linked.

TURNER: Yes. You know what, A.J., a little surprised, a little surprised that we didn`t hear from him sooner. But I think that his words were so strong.

You know, he never confirmed that they were together. But I interviewed Ray J a couple years ago and I asked him about Whitney. And he wouldn`t say, "Yes, we`re dating," but what he did say was that he was very fond of her.

So it may have taken him this time. I mean, you know, he was very close to with her. We`ve seen pictures of them, just in the couple days before she passed, together.

So I think it may have just took him a little time to digest this whole thing and get those words together that he wanted to say.

HAMMER: Yes. And as we well know, there`s no right or wrong way to act or respond even if the person who passed away is a huge celebrity like Whitney Houston.


HAMMER: And we`re all going to be together in Newark together covering Whitney`s funeral. Jane, what are you expecting tomorrow to be like?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL": I expect it to be a joyous celebration of her life.

I expect us not to be talking about the controversies and the questions surrounding her death but celebrating her amazing accomplishments, her music, what she gave to our culture, which was extraordinary.

She was a genius. She was a great dancer. She was a great singer. She was a great actress. That`s what we`re celebrating tomorrow.

HAMMER: And this is unprecedented. Whitney`s funeral, it`s the first time an entertainment celebrity`s funeral is going to be seen on TV.

Michael Jackson`s memorial was televised, but the funeral was private. Nischelle, you know with this circle of friends Whitney has in attendance tomorrow, this is going to be quite the sendoff. There are going to be some really good vibes coming out of that church.

TURNER: Oh, there are. And you know what? I`m with Jane. Expect a celebration. When you`ve got the likes of BeBe and CeCe Winans, Donnie McClurkin, Kim Burrell, all of those gospel greats - they`re going to give performances tomorrow saying goodbye to Whitney - A.J., expect it to be a big celebration.

HAMMER: Yes, it`s going to be magical. Nischelle, Jane, thank you both so much. And the three of us will be right outside the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark tomorrow covering every detail of Whitney`s last goodbye.

Be sure to be here for HLN`s coverage of Whitney`s Houston`s special farewell. We get it underway at 9:00 a.m. Eastern and live coverage of the funeral begins at noon.

And that is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Thank you for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer. Remember, you can catch SHOWBIZ TONIGHT exclusively, weeknights. We`re on at 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific right here on HLN.