A week after the death of R&B/pop songstress Whitney Houston, her close friend Ray-J has broken his silence regarding the news-making tragedy.
In a released statement, Ray J expressed his sadness over Houston’s demise while noting how close he was to the influential vocalist.
“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,” stated the 31-year-old entertainer, who spent time with Houston days before her death. “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,” Ray J continued. “Your smile will live in my heart forever.”
News of Houston’s death has dominated headlines this week, with mourners voicing their grief via Twitter and Facebook and a surge in sales of he 48-year-old singer’s music. Houston died last Saturday (February 11) at a hotel in Beverly Hills. Authorities concluded that there were no indications of foul play and no obvious signs of trauma to Houston’s body after an autopsy was performed on her the following day. Media sources report the Grammy winner was found submerged in her bathtub by a member of her personal staff
An official cause of death for Houston will not be determined for weeks, in light of toxicology tests currently being done by the coroner’s office.
Houston’s funeral, which will be broadcast online and on BET, will take place today (February 18) at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. Among those expected to attend the private, invitation-only service are the singer’s godmother, Aretha Franklin, Ray J’s sister, Brandy, Clive Davis, Dionne Warwick, Kim Burrell, Cece Winans, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Donnie McClurkin, Rickey Minor, Tyler Perry, and Kevin Costner, Houston’s co-star in the movie, The Bodyguard. The Rev. Marvin Winans will preside over the funeral.
Despite reports of him being banned from attending the service, Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown will be at the funeral. On Thursday (February 17), Brown paid tribute to Houston while performing on tour with his former group New Edition in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
“I’d like to say thank you for your prayers…I’d like to say thank you. Period. I’m gonna throw two up for Whitney,” Brown said while throwing up a peace sign. “That’s my love.”
While his grief was apparent, Brown noted how important it is to not dwell on unpleasant events.
“Life is life. You have to move on sometimes,” he shared. “I love her like I love God.”
After paying his respects to Houston, Brown will return to the stage Saturday evening at a scheduled performance with New Edition in Uncasville, Connecticut, and Sunday (February 19) in Newark.