SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (AP) -- It was an emotional night for soul singer Bobby Brown as he performed hours after learning that his ex-wife Whitney Houston had died in Beverly Hills.

Brown took to a stage in Southhaven, Miss., near Memphis, on Saturday night and only made brief remarks about Houston's death at 48.

Before thousands of fans, Brown declared: "... I would like to say, `I love you, Whitney.' The hardest thing for me to do is to come on this stage."

Later in the concert Bobby Brown appeared emotionally overcome as his group — New Edition — performed a ballad. When the song began, he joined in but his voice cracked and he walked off stage. The concert ended soon afterward.

Houston and Brown had a tumultuous 15-year marriage that ended in 2007.