aretha franklin eulogises houston.jpgWhitney Houston’s godmother has played a special tribute to her at a concert just hours before the late singer’s funeral.

Aretha Franklin was performing at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. In between her greatest hits and fan favourites she slotted in a tribute.

As she sat off to the side of the stage she said: “I would like to acknowledge the passing of one of the finest and greatest singers that ever stood behind a microphone. I speak of none other than Miss Whitney Elizabeth Houston.”

Applause rippled out as she continued: “We will always remember her kindness, her grace, her smile and her dynamic performances, but she has moved on up just a little bit higher now.”

Franklin then sang Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” which was made popular by Houston, whose soaring voice made it a hit.

The Queen of Soul is set to sing at Houston’s funeral which is at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, along with Dionne Warwick and Stevie Wonder.

Reports say some 1,500 guests will attend the private ceremony after which Houston’s body will then be buried at a local cemetery, alongside her father.

Security will be tight, with fans kept away, although the funeral service will be streamed live on the internet.

Houston, 48, was found dead in a hotel in Los Angeles a week ago.

Officials are waiting for the results of toxicology tests that will help them ascertain how she died.

The New Hope Baptist Church is where a young Whitney Houston sang in a gospel choir run by her mother.

The 1,500 invited guests will include some of the biggest names in showbusiness.

Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin will sing, while Kevin Costner, who starred opposite Houston in The Bodyguard, will be one of the speakers, as will Clive Davis, her musical mentor.

There will also be contributions from Houston’s cousin Dionne Warwick and singer Alicia Keys.

Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown will also attend, with the couple’s only child Bobbi Kristina.

A number of Houston’s relatives attended a private viewing service at a Newark funeral home on Friday night amid tight security.

Houston was one of the world’s leading musical artists from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, selling 170 million records worldwide.

Sales of her records have soared since her death was announced last Saturday.