Thousands of fans and friends gathered at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, Thursday morning to say good-bye to flamboyant TLC singer/rapper Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.
Close to 10,000 mourners – including Lopes’ former TLC-mates Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas – made the trip to the Atlanta suburb for Thursday’s (May 2) funeral service for Lopes, who was killed in a car accident in Honduras last week at the age of 30. Usher, Arista Records CEO L.A. Reid, Janet Jackson, Jermaine Dupri, Babyface, Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, Timbaland, Mack 10, Da Brat, Raphael Saadiq and Monica were also among those paying their respects at the two-hour service.
Fans began lining up outside the church as early as six hours before the doors opened at 10:30 a.m. for the ceremony. Some traveled hundreds of miles from across the U.S., clutching CDs, posters and hand-painted portraits of the late artist. Their enthusiasm almost overwhelmed the church, as the once-orderly line turned into a crowd when the doors were opened. However, all made their way into the church for the start of the service.
The ceremony opened with a video montage of Lopes, followed by words from Dekalb County CEO Vernon Jones, L.A. Reid, Lopes’ aunt Pamela Young, and her brother Ronald Lopes. R&B duo Mary Mary then offered a rendition of “Crazy” in honor of Lopes. Members of Egypt, a group that Lopes had been mentoring, also performed. Bishop Eddie Long presided over the ceremony, which paid tribute to both Lopes the artist and Lopes the humanitarian.
The singer’s mother, Wanda Lopes, provided the service’s most emotionally charged moment, reciting a poem that she had written for her daughter before her death. Bernice King, daughter of late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., also struck a chord during her statements about the late singer’s spirit.
Following the service, Lopes’ family and friends headed to an undisclosed site where the singer will be interred in a private ceremony.
Thursday’s public funeral comes one day after family and friends paid their respects during a private ceremony held at a different location in the Atlanta area.
The TLC singer was killed last Thursday when the SUV she was driving flipped over and she suffered fatal head trauma. Eight others were in the vehicle with her, but none of the other passengers suffered potentially fatal injuries.