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Stars mourn Whitney Houston at Grammys

Grammy's host LL Cool J

Grammy's host LL Cool J Credit: Grammy's host LL Cool J (Getty)

From the California stage at music's marquee event to the New Jersey church where Whitney Houston's singing career first took flight, the pop diva's family, fans and fellow musicians yesterday expressed their grief a day after her death with prayer, tears and raw anguish.

After Bruce Springsteen opened the 54th Grammy Awards, host LL Cool J offered a prayer for Houston, her fans and family.

"Although she is gone too soon, we remain truly blessed by her musical spirit," he said. "There's no way around it - we've had a death in the family."

The prayer was followed by a video montage of Houston depicted during happier times and set to the music of her 1992 hit "I Will Always Love You" - a display that spurred a standing ovation.

Later in the evening, actress and singer Jennifer Hudson was set to perform a medley of songs in tribute to Houston, who died at 48 in a Beverly Hills hotel room on Saturday.

At the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, Houston's hometown, fans and admirers gathered to celebrate her life during three Sunday services.

Cards and flowers were tied to the railings of the church, where congregants hugged and cried at the entrance. Among those paying their respects was the Reverend Jesse Jackson, the civil rights activist.

"The suddenness of it all leaves us traumatized," said Jackson, who watched Houston grow up and sing at New Hope. It was in that red brick church on a quiet backstreet near downtown Newark that Houston's career began as a soloist with a gospel choir in the 1970s.

"We must lean on our faith. Our hearts are heavy today," Jackson said.

Up to 200 people attended the church services, where Denise Dean, 57, recalled once hearing Houston sing. Dean said she still has her faded autograph on an old checkbook.

"We prayed for the family," Dean said afterward.

Over the course of a 30-year career in which she established herself as one of the most admired and influential singers of her time, Houston won six Grammys, 30 Billboard awards and 22 American Music Awards.

Houston's songs were already dominating Internet music sales early yesterday. Her album "Whitney Houston: The Greatest Hits" was the top seller in the music category on Amazon.com, and her signature hit, "I Will Always Love You," was the No. 1 download on iTunes.

The soundtrack for the hit movie "The Bodyguard," in which Houston also starred, was among the best-selling film soundtracks of all time.

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The Best of the 2012 Grammys

Album of Year
“21,” Adele

Record of Year
“Rolling In The Deep,” Adele

Song of Year
“Rolling In The Deep,” Adele

New Artist
Bon Iver

Rock Album
“Wasting Light,” Foo Fighters

Alternative Album
“Bon Iver,” Bon Iver

R&B Album
“F.A.M.E.,” Chris Brown

Rap Album
“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” Kanye West

Country Album
“Own The Night,” Lady Antebellum

Pop Vocal Album
“21,” Adele

Pop Solo Performance
“Someone Like You,” Adele

Pop Duo/Group Performance
Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse

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