Miley Cyrus was so close with her The Voice contestant Janice Freeman — who died at age 33 on March 2 from a blood clot — that she performed at the late singer’s “Celebration of Life” memorial service Monday. However, she became so emotional while introducing “Amazing Grace” that she had to ask her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, to sing most of the hymn while he played guitar.
“I had planned on singing a song for her, but just losing her is just too much for me. So my dad’s going to take care of this for me. But I’ll always be your sister, I’m here for you, and I’m here for your family. And Janice, I’ll miss you more than I could ever say,” Miley told the mourners gathered at Mariners Church in Irvine, Calif. After the elder Cyrus started the song, Miley composed herself enough to rejoin for the second chorus.
Miley introduced “Amazing Grace” by saying through tears, “Before we sing this song for Janice, I just want to clear up a rumor: I was never her ‘coach,’ ever. She was always mine. I learned more from her than anyone that I’ve gotten the honor to be in the room with, not just vocally. I should have gotten more lessons than I did, but she taught me everything that I know about love.”
Freeman, who had already battled cervical cancer, meningitis, and lupus before competing on The Voice in 2017 as a member of Team Miley, was a Season 13 frontrunner; her elimination in 11th place remains one of the most shocking Voice moments ever. That week, Miley told her, “I truly believe that if anybody deserves to stick around in this competition, it is you. You are a fighter. You are a role model. And more than any of that, you are The Voice. … I believe in heaven because of people like you.”
Freeman and Miley stayed in touch after the show, and Freeman revealed on social media last year that Cyrus had helped her get back on her feet, paying her family’s security deposit and six months’ rent for new housing.
Two days after Freeman’s tragic death, Miley paid tribute in two heartbreaking Instagram posts, saying, “You were the only artist EVER, that I tried so hard to ‘sign,’ was going to create a label just so YOU could be on it. … Everyone got it so wrong on our season together of The Voice because no matter what has been recorded or remembered YOU won my angel. You are not only the best singer that show has ever had the honor of having on that stage but the best f***ing singer in the world.” Miley also promised to take care of Freeman’s 12-year-old daughter, Hannah.
Miley has teased there is unreleased Freeman music, created with multiple Grammy-winner Brandi Carlile, that she hopes to “share at an appropriate time.”
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
- ‘The Voice’ pays touching tribute to late Season 1 contestant Beverly McClellan
- Brandi Carlile, the 2019 Grammys’ most-nominated woman, talks Joni, Obama and ‘internalized and institutionalized misogyny’
- Miley Cyrus goes undercover in boy drag for ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ premiere
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