For the past couple days, I’ve been listening nonstop to one of the soundtracks of my childhood: straight-up, good old-fashioned African-American gospel music. And for that, I can thank Sister Whitney Houston, whose Newark, N.J., funeral at the New Hope Baptist Church was broadcast live around the world on Saturday, giving fans like me who never knew her a chance to say farewell in the way that we black folks do. In a “homegoing service,” one that focuses on the heavenly destination of the person being celebrated.
So sitting here on the other side of the world, in a quiet French village far, far away from the urban center that is Newark, I watched Whitney’s funeral on CNN.com and “had church” right here, all by myself. Such is the power of modern Internet technology—and the far more enduring power of gospel music and the Christian source from which it flows ….