(CBS) Writer, director and producer Tyler Perry today characterized Whtney Houston's life as one directed by grace, "a grace that carried her from heaven down through Miss Cissy Houston."
Speaking at the hush-filled memorial service at New Hope Baptist Church in Houston's hometown of Newark, N.J., the Atlanta-based Perry said that same grace carried her into a singing career and to the top of the charts.
"So what I know about her is that she loved the Lord," he concluded, "and if there was a grace that carried her all of the way through, it was the same grace that carried her home."
Perry, named by Forbes magazine in 2011 as the richest man in entertainment, was among a dozen speakers and performers at the hours-long service.
Here's the full text of his remarks:
"It was Pat who introduced me to Whitney a while back, and she and I sat in a restaurant in Atlanta, just the two of us, and sat there talking for about an hour and a half about four years ago. And during this time she was telling me about her life and I was very surprised about how candid and open and revealing she was as she was talking to me, and she would talk about some things that she had went through and things that made her sad and things that were tough, and as I would see her talk about this i would see this heaviness come upon her and I'm the type of person that when I would see this with anyone I would just want to say something encouraging, but before I could get words out to encourage her, she would say, 'But the Lord.'
"And the conversation went on, the conversation went on, we would talk a little bit more and she would go back into her sadness and just as I'm about to say, 'But my lord and savior Jesus Christ and his amazing grace."
"It was at that moment that I knew that I would do all I can to stand with her, and from that moment to now I've been standing with the family and her and I am just completely thankful to God for all that he has done in her life.
"There are two constants that I know about Whitney Houston, and one is that there was a grace that carried, a grace that carried her from heaven down through Miss Cissy Houston. A grace that brought her up through singing, a grace -- from what I understand she wasn't even supposed to be able to speak let alone sing because of an incident that happened to her as a child, but there was a grace that kept on carrying her all of the way through.
"The same grace led her all of the way to the top of the charts, sold all of these albums and just done some amazing things, won all these awards. She sang for presidents. There was a grace that kept on carrying her. That's one thing I know.
"And the other thing I know, for sure, and this is more important than anything than she's ever done in her life: Whitney Houston loved the Lord. And in every conversation we had over these years it was evident that she loved the Lord. She loved the Lord, and when I think about it there's a scripture that keeps burning in my heart. I keep thinking about the Apostle Paul in Romans when he was talking about, 'I am persuaded that nothing shall separate me from the love of God.'
"So what I know about her is that nothing separated her from the love of God, and if you look at what Paul was saying he was describing her life so perfectly. He said, 'Neither height - ' which meant, no matter how far she went in the stratosphere, nothing separated her from the Lord; 'Neither height nor depth -' no matter how much struggle, no matter what she had to go through, no matter what she had to walk through, it still wasn't enough to separate her from the love of God, nor principalities nor power nor things to come. Nothing was able to separate her from the love of God.
"So what I know about her is that she loved the Lord, and if there was a grace that carried her all of the way through, it was the same grace that carried her home.
"And I just want to close by saying this because Pastor Paul said something that just fascinates me as I read the Word sometimes, he said, 'What then say you to these things? That if God be for you, who can be against you? So say whatever you want, God was for her and she is resting singing with the angels. God bless you, family. God bless you. God bless you, Whitney. We love you so much."