Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Stars to sing at Whitney's funeral

A private funeral will be held for Whitney Houston on Saturday

Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder will sing at a private funeral for Whitney Houston on Saturday, in what promises to be a very musical service.

Houston's publicist, Kristen Foster, also confirmed that invitations went out to the singer's ex-husband, Bobby Brown, her co-star in The Bodyguard, Kevin Costner, and talk show presenter Oprah Winfrey.

Whitney's long-time musical mentor Clive Davis will speak at the funeral. The eulogy will be given by gospel singer and family friend Marvin Winans.

Organisers have been preparing the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, for the musical part of the service, setting up speakers and drums in the aisles.

Fans without invitations will be kept away, with Newark police saying streets will be shut down for six square blocks around the church.

However, they will be able to watch the funeral on the internet as the Associated Press is streaming the service on http://livestream.com/aplive.

Whitney, 48, was underwater and apparently unconscious when she was pulled from a bath at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, California, hours before she was due to perform at producer Clive Davis' pre-Grammy Awards event last weekend.

She was born in Newark and raised in nearby East Orange. She began singing as a child at New Hope Baptist Church, where her mother, Grammy-winning gospel singer Cissy Houston, led the music programme for many years. Her cousin, singer Dionne Warwick, also sang in its choir.

She was one of the world's best-selling artists from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, turning out such hits as I Wanna Dance With Somebody, How Will I Know, The Greatest Love Of All and I Will Always Love You.

But as she struggled with drugs, her majestic voice became raspy and she could not hit the high notes.

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