As a member of the popular R&B group TLC, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes made her mark in the entertainment industry, despite sadly passing away at the young age of 30. As is often the case with celebrity deaths, her passing affected not only her close loved ones, but also countless fans who found inspiration, joy, and so much more in her music.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Left Eye’s Funeral Service
- How and Where Was Left Eye Buried?
- How Did People Grieve and Memorialize Left Eye?
Left Eye’s funeral proved just how popular she was. Fans even got the chance to participate in the service to a degree that’s fairly uncommon. This blog will describe how that happened, helping you better understand the way Left Eye’s funeral served as a unique tribute to an even more unique talent.
Tip: If your loved one was a fan of Left Eye and TLC, you can incorporate their music into the service, whether it's in person or virtual. A service like GatheringUs can help you incorporate music into a virtual or hybrid funeral.
Left Eye’s Funeral Service
You might imagine that the funeral for a star as young as Left Eye would be a somber affair. To some extent, it was. That said, it was also an uplifting event, shining a spotlight on a woman whose music touched so many over the course of only a few short years.
Left Eye’s funeral took place at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia. Although Left Eye spent most of her childhood in Philadelphia, she’d moved to Atlanta to audition for TLC.
Thus, it made sense to hold her funeral in the area, as it had become a home for the singer during the early stages of her career. Additionally, as this blog will soon explain, this church’s tremendous seating capacity allowed for a very special funeral involving not only Left Eye’s friends and family, but many of her fans as well.
The service for a musician as talented as Left Eye naturally included funeral songs. Specifically, it featured:
A performance of the hymn “Hosanna” marked the beginning of Left Eye’s funeral.
The goal of those planning the service may have been to start with an optimistic religious song that would help those in attendance focus on positivity and loving remembrance throughout its duration. After the hymn, Bishop Eddie Long clearly stated that the goal was to make the service a celebration of Left Eye’s life.
‘Shackles (Praise You)’
Gospel duo Mary Mary also performed a hymn, “Shackles (Praise You).” This was another song of positivity that may have lifted the spirits of some of the mourners at the funeral. Its lyrics describe a feeling of freedom and elation that someone might experience when they break through the “shackles” of pain that hold them down in life, realizing there is still reason to be joyful and praiseful.
The focus on gospel music was also appropriate given Left Eye’s background. When she was only 10 years old, she and her siblings formed a group they dubbed The Lopes Kids. Together, they would sing gospel songs at churches throughout the Philadelphia area. Although she moved on to rap, hip-hop, and R&B when she started her professional career, gospel was always a significant part of her musical roots.
Left Eye’s funeral was somewhat unique compared to other celebrity funerals. For instance, when a star has as many loyal fans as Left Eye did, it’s not uncommon for loved ones to plan two services: a public memorial and a private funeral.
Left Eye’s funeral was slightly different. Because the church in which it was held had 10,000 seats, many fans were able to attend the actual funeral itself (although a wake the night before did allow close loved ones to pay their respects in private). Those who didn’t arrive in time to get seats crowded outside the church to join in. Many fans knew the funeral wasn’t meant to begin until noon, but they began lining up in hopes of getting a seat inside as early as 7:00 AM.
Along with devoted fans, Left Eye’s funeral attracted a range of music industry figures, including Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and Marion “Suge” Knight, to name just a few. Left Eye’s former TLC collaborators were also, of course, in attendance.
Left Eye’s funeral was also unique for a celebrity funeral because it didn’t feature an official procession. Instead, after the funeral service was complete, her close loved ones traveled with her body to bury her privately.
However, a celebrity usually gets a funeral procession when fans can’t attend the actual funeral itself. This allows them to pay their respects. That wasn’t necessary in the case of Left Eye’s funeral, because, again, thousands of fans got to attend.
On top of that, pictures from the funeral show fans outside the church making way for the hearse delivering Left Eye’s casket, creating what almost looks like an unofficial procession.
Left Eye’s casket featured an engraving of the following lyrics from her hit song “Waterfalls”: “Dreams are hopeless aspirations in hopes of coming true/believe in yourself/the rest is up to me and you.” These few words summarized the inspirational messages Left Eye often shared with her loyal fans.
How and Where Was Left Eye Buried?
Again, although Left Eye’s funeral was a massive event with thousands of attendees, her loved ones preferred to bury her in relative privacy, at Hillandale Memorial Gardens, in Lithonia, Georgia.
How Did People Grieve and Memorialize Left Eye?
Left Eye may have tragically passed away at a young age, but in many ways, she lives on through the tributes and memorials others have established in her name. Notable examples include the following:
Lisa Lopes Foundation
Left Eye’s family kept her charitable spirit alive after her death by creating the Lisa Lopes Foundation in her honor. Upon visiting Honduras, Left Eye had begun cultivating her spiritual side, which also inspired her to focus on providing help to those in need, many of whom she encountered during her travels.
The Lisa Lopes Foundation now continues to offer assistance to impoverished and neglected families. Along with offering direct support, the foundation also focuses on educating individuals to improve their lives through healthy living and an appreciation for the arts.
Additionally, the foundation encourages other artists to offer help to the poor and downtrodden with the annual Lisa Lopes Award, which they give to artists who’ve leveraged their success as a means of doing good in the world. Past recipients include Janet Jackson, Usher, and Ludacris.
Left Eye Music Fest
The Lisa Lopes Foundation’s charitable giving may be its most important work. However, while Left Eye’s devotion to helping others may have been a defining aspect of her character, it was by no means the only quality for which she was celebrated. The foundation’s members also recognized there’s value in keeping her musical spirit alive as well.
To that end, they started the annual Left Eye Music Fest, a family-oriented music festival that highlighted female artists and encouraged positive engagement within communities. Although the event no longer takes place on an annual basis, it ensured those who got to experience it would never forget Left Eye’s musical legacy.
‘The Last Days of Left Eye’
Left Eye recorded several videos of herself during her time in Honduras. In 2007, VH1 aired a documentary consisting mainly of these videos, as well as some Left Eye recorded in other locations.
Last Days of Left Eye didn’t merely chronicle (as the name implied) the final weeks of her life. It also provided fans with a unique look into a side of her character they may not have been familiar with or even expected. Although an inspirational figure, Left Eye also had a reputation for being volatile and intense.
That’s not the Left Eye people saw in this documentary. As she relaxes and enjoys Honduras, she displays a calm and centered attitude, proving that a celebrity’s public image might not always be an accurate reflection of their entire personality.
Eye Legacy, released in 2009, is a posthumous album cobbled together from previously unreleased Left Eye recordings.
However, while some critics and fans claimed the album managed to capture Left Eye’s talent to at least some degree, others believed this might have been an instance in which a record label was trying to cash in on an artist’s unreleased catalog without their participation.
Left Eye’s Funeral: Saying Goodbye to a Star
We can only imagine what Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes would have continued to achieve had she not passed away tragically young. That said, Left Eye’s funeral at least showed the world she’d accomplished quite a lot already, touching fans in ways they’ll never forget.
- “Eye Legacy.” Metacritic, CBS Interactive Inc., www.metacritic.com/music/eye-legacy/lisa-left-eye-lopes
- “Fans Pay Final Respects At Lopes Funeral.” Billboard, MRC Media and Info, 2 May 2002, www.billboard.com/articles/news/75916/fans-pay-final-respects-at-lopes-funeral
- Grossberg, Josh. “Left Eye Funeral Draws Thousands.” E!, E! Entertainment Television, 2 May 2002, www.eonline.com/news/43236/left-eye-funeral-draws-thousands
- Heffernan, Virginia. “Singer at the End of Time: The Video Diary of Lisa Lopes.” New York Times, The New York Times Company, 19 May 2017, www.nytimes.com/2007/05/19/arts/television/19left.html
- “‘Left Eye’ Laid to Rest.” NME, Bandilab Technologies, 2 May 2002, www.nme.com/news/music/lisa-lopes-left-eye-1380000
- Left Eye Music Fest, Left Eye Music Fest, www.lefteyemusicfest.net/
- The Lisa Lopes Foundation, Lisa Lopes Foundation, www.lisalopesfoundation.net/
- “Thousands Mourn ‘Left Eye’.” BBC, BBC, 3 May 2002, news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/1964559.stm