News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, Feb. 20, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- James Brown's daughters Deanna and Venisha are back in Augusta after attending Whitney Houston's funeral. They are now singing, crying and revealing their personal family connection for the first time.
"We were just crying," said Venisha Brown. "Forget the makeup. The makeup was gone."
James Brown's family is talking exclusively to News 12 about the emotional Whitney Houston funeral.
"I was just in shock," said Deanna Brown Thomas. "I put my paperwork away. I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't believe that here we go again."
Houston joins a long list of musical icons who died mired in tragedy. It is a feeling the Brown family knows all to well.
"Exactly. It is deja-vu," Venisha said. "I don't think we have truly grieved. Being in that atmosphere again just brought back those feelings. It was the empathy that we felt for the family."
Deanna said she remembers Whitney when she was called "Nippy from New Jersey."
"Nippy from New Jersey" would go on to sell more than 170 million albums, singles and videos worldwide.
"These are people that I grew up with," Venisha said. "Whitney's cousin, Dionne Warwick, is my baptismal godmother."
The Brown family's pain is evident.
"We lost a home girl," Deanna said. "We lost our sister."
Venisha said she took it personally.
"I actually felt her," she said. "I pulled for her because pulling for her was pulling for me. I also had experienced having problems with drugs and alcohol myself."
The Brown family had hoped to be invited to Whitney's latest new release party. They instead got an exclusive invitation to Whitney's funeral.
"It was phenomenal when CeCe Winans asked the world to sing 'Jesus Loves Me,'" sang Venisha and Deanna. "We gave thanks to God for lending us Whitney Houston to put some joy and love into people's hearts around the world."
Whitney sang "Jesus Loves Me" the night before she died. It was her final public performance.
The Brown daughters sat in the family section at the funeral. They say they are especially prayerful for Houston's daughter Bobbi Christina. She is 18 years old and learning to live without her mother.
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