Cicely Tyson’s supervisor mentioned the non-public service was “very Cicely Tyson: It was formal, it was humorous, it was unhappy, it was superb.”
NEW YORK — Tyler Perry and Bill and Hillary Clinton had been among the attendees of a personal memorial service for Cicely Tyson at Harlem’s famed Abyssinian Baptist Church.
Gospel singer Bebe Winans sang “Stand” — a request from Tyson earlier than her loss of life — and a letter was learn by rocker Lenny Kravitz, who was an in depth pal.
“The ceremony was beautiful. It was very Cicely Tyson: It was formal, it was humorous, it was sad, it was glorious,” mentioned Larry Thompson, Tyson’s supervisor for greater than 40 years.
Reporters weren’t permitted inside however a number of mourners stopped to share their ideas afterward.
Abyssinian Baptist’s pastor, the Rev. Calvin O. Butts, mentioned Tyson was an instance of “a life well lived and an example of how we all might live,” including, “She was as much an ambassador for peace and love as anybody I can think of.”
He famous that Tyson’s service fell throughout Black History Month, giving us “another illustration of some of the great people who have contributed to American arts and culture.”
The memorial service Tuesday got here a day after hundreds of admirers of the pioneering Black actor lined up outside the church for a public viewing. Some mentioned that they had come from so far as Atlanta or Los Angeles to be there.
During the ceremony, the solar broke by means of the clouds and the temperature rose previous 40 for the primary time within the snowy metropolis greater than every week. Her casket was carried to an hearse by six pallbearers in white tie and tails.
Tyson died Jan. 28. The New York-born actor was 96.
Faye Wattleton, a reproductive rights activist who was buddies with Tyson for over 30 years mentioned: “She was 96 but we thought she was going to live at least until 100. People like her never really go away. Hopefully, she’s feeling all the love that we gave her today.”
Also in attendance was Valerie Simpson of the duo Ashford & Simpson, stylist Ellin LaVar and Emmy-nominated choreographer George Faison, who mentioned he knew Tyson by means of her former husband, Miles Davis.
“Now they are joined together in heaven and I’m glad I was here to bid her a farewell,” Faison mentioned. “She was a wonderful woman.”
Tyson was the primary Black lady to have a recurring function in a dramatic tv collection, the 1963 drama “East Side, West Side.” Her efficiency as a sharecropper’s spouse within the 1972 film “Sounder” cemented her stardom and earned her an Oscar nomination.
She went on to win two Emmy Awards for enjoying the 110-year-old former slave within the 1974 tv drama “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” and one other Emmy 20 years later for “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.”
At age 88, Tyson gained a Tony Award for the revival of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful” in 2013. President Barack Obama awarded her the Medal of Freedom in 2016.
Joseph Joubart performed piano throughout the service and mentioned it was a second he would always remember. “It was a really moving experience and was a tribute to what a great lady she was — an icon, a legend.”