It was an emotional night for soul singer Bobby Brown as he performed Saturday night before thousands just hours after learning that his ex-wife Whitney Houston had died in Beverly Hills.
"First of all, I want to tell you that I love you all," he told fans gathered at a nearly sold-out 7,500-seat venue in northern Mississippi. "Second, I would like to say, `I love you, Whitney.' The hardest thing for me to do is to come on this stage."
Brown took the stage as part of the New Edition reunion tour at the Landers Center in Southaven, close to Memphis, Tenn. He said he decided to go on with the performance because fans had shown their loyalty to the group New Edition for more than 25 years. He performed about 10 songs over more than hour - "My Preogative" and "Mr. Telephone Man" among them - before he appeared visibly shaken on stage.
Brown suddenly appeared overcome with emotion as the concert wound down, wiping his face with his vest as the group prepared to sing a ballad. When the song began, he joined in, but his voice cracked. He then waved to the fans and walked off stage. The show ended shortly afterward.
Houston and Brown had a tumultuous 15-year marriage that ended in 2007.
In 1993, they had a daughter, Bobbi Kristina. Ten years later, police responded to a domestic violence call from Houston about Brown. Police found Houston with a cut lip and bruised cheek. She was in and out of drug rehabilitation during the mid-2000s, and appeared to hit a low point with her unsteady appearances in the 2005 reality TV show "Being Bobby Brown." She filed for legal separation the following year and the couple divorced in 2007.