The Grammy nominee, 26, who acted as the season 13 contestant’s mentor on the show, was scheduled to perform a song at the memorial but was too distraught to do so, tearfully introducing her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, to sing a rendition of “Amazing Grace” instead.
“Before we sing this song for Janice, I just want to clear up a rumor. I was never her coach,” she said around the video’s one hour mark, her voice quivering. “Ever. She was always mine. I learned more from her than anyone that I’ve ever gotten honored 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.”
Cyrus continued through tears: “I had planned on singing a song for her, but just losing her is just too much for me. So … my dad’s gotta take care of this for me. But I’ll always be your sister, and I’m here for you, and I’m here for your family. And Janice, I’ll miss you more than I could ever say.”
Us Weekly reported that Freeman died at the age of 33 on March 3 of an apparent blood clot. Freeman’s manager told TMZ that the singer had been “battling a combination of bronchitis and lupus and the blood clot was actually in her lungs.”
Freeman was having trouble breathing at her home in Pasadena, California, ahead of her death, prompting her husband, Dion, to call 911 and perform CPR. The musician — who’d previously beaten cervical cancer — was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
The “Malibu” singer penned an emotional tribute to the reality show contestant on March 4. “I miss you so much it hurts,” she wrote on Instagram. “Everywhere ….. but so did you. So often. So much pain and no one would ever notice because of the smile and joy you constantly radiated. I am trying my best today to celebrate your existence but I can’t help but just deeply mourn over your absence.”
Cyrus also said that Freeman, who was eliminated during the NBC hit’s live shows in 2017, should have won the competition, writing, “Today we lost a legend … 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—king singer in the world … Janice you’re my star! I will never give up on you. Ever. … I will never forget you or stop loving you. I am forever yours, Miley.”
The Hannah Montana alum had a close connection with her former team member, even helping her and her family to find a new home and donating funds to them.
“She found us placement until we found permanent housing, gave me the deposit, covered me for 6 months so I can get on my feet!” Freeman tweeted of the former Disney star in January 2018. “@MileyCyrus you are one of my closest friends and what you did for me and my family Im praying GOD gives you the desire of your heart!”