At his final viewing Thursday afternoon, it wasn’t obvious whether the pants of the late Chris Kelly‘s dark, double-breasted suit were on backwards; but there was little doubt after the two-hour-plus service that there lay a beloved son and friend, a global superstar, and still-going style rule breaker.
There were the black letters in the lid of the handsome, two-tone open casket that read: ” ‘Cause That’s What I Was Born To Do…” (A reference to the chorus from his multimillion-selling hip-hop group’s hit, “Warm It Up.”)
There were the hundreds of well-wishers in attendance for the funeral of the 34-year-old, fallen half of Atlanta’s Kris Kross; including his So So Def labelmates Tiny “Tameka” Harris, Da Brat, Wingo of Jagged Edge and the So So Def CEO that discovered the duo in Greenbriar Mall – wearing their clothes backwards, even then – Jermaine Dupri.
There was the slide show on the two wide screens inside the Jackson Memorial Baptist Church sanctuary, replaying images from their three-CD career spanning the ’90s: Kris Kross and the late Michael Jackson (whom they opened for on his “Dangerous” tour). Kelly frequently surrounded by beaming young women, often with his shirt open wide. And Kris Kross back on stage just three months ago for the So So Def 20th Anniversary Concert at the Fox Theatre. (And still holding to their signature, “the brown one” – as Kelly was often called – had on his jeans backwards).
There were the rousing gospel performances from R&B singers Chico DeBarge (who like Kelly – whose exact cause of death has not been determined – reportedly battled drug addiction); Tamika and LaTocha Scott (half of Xscape, also on So So Def) and LaTocha’s fellow “R&B Divas” co-star, KeKe Wyatt, who had many on their feet during her rendition of “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.”
And at the end of the reflections of Kelly’s “Life And Tenacious Spirit” (as it was called in the program), there was the obviously heartbroken Chris Smith of Kris Kross, who struggled to recall “the 30 years that we kicked it.”
“I could say ‘Kris Kross Forever’ (as many did during the service),” Smith said between tears. “But I know without Chris in my life, it ain’t gonna never be the same. But I just hope our legacy for hip-hop is never forgotten.. I’m [going to] do my part though, to make sure Chris’s memory lives on.”
– Sonia Murray, CBS Local
Click the picture below to see scenes from the funeral
Click the picture below to see the entire funeral program