For more than 50-years, Cissy Houston has led the choir at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. The perfect place for a gathering to celebrate her life’s work. City officials say Houston’s big day in Newark was year’s in the making. Mayor Ras Baraka presented Cissy Houston a key to the city.
“Her singing talent expresses our highest values, inspires audiences around the world and right here in our neighborhoods. She is a pioneer and advocate for the arts. One of the greatest legends in musical and Newark history.”
Cissy Houston’s closest family members were there, including the only other Grammy Award winner in the room, Dionne Warwick.
“My Aunt Cissy has been a part of my life from the day I was born. You are an inspiration. You’ve shown us, given us, you have chastised us when needed, and sometimes when not needed. I love you very, very much.”
Michael Houston, the middle child in the Houston family spoke on his and his little sister Whitney’s behalf.
“Mom, you have been the best example of a human being. A woman, a friend, a leader, a boss, an employee, a co-worker, a relative, a sibling, and most of all a mom. The best mom anyone can and could ever have. You have nothing to be ashamed of as far as your children’s bad choices we made. You have everything to be proud of when we accomplish anything because they only happened because we followed your direction.”
Which made for an emotional Cissy Houston, as she took the floor to perform alongside the New Hope Baptist Church choir.
“I am so grateful today. If I don’t sound good that’s because I’m crying.”
To cap off the celebration, the city renamed the corner of Sussex Avenue and Dey Street at the New Hope Baptist Church, Dr. Emily Houston Plaza.
“For your family, you guys have a whole street named after you,” said Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield-Jenkins unveiling the street sign. “And a whole city and county that loves you.”