Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Whitney funeral at childhood church

Whitney Houston's funeral will take place on Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark (AP)
Flowers, balloons and messages to Whitney Houston are left outside the New Hope Baptist Church (AP)

Whitney Houston's funeral will be held at the church where she first showcased her singing talents as a child.

Her family has chosen to remember the 48-year-old in a private service rather than in a large event at one of America's busiest entertainment arenas.

The owner of the Whigham Funeral Home in New Jersey said the funeral would be held at noon on Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, which seats up to 1,500. Gospel singer Marvin Winans had been chosen to give the eulogy, his son said.

The family said no public memorial service for Houston, who died at a Beverly Hills hotel on Saturday, was planned.

Officials had discussed the possibility of holding a memorial at the Prudential Centre, a major sports and entertainment venue in Newark that can seat about 18,000 people, but the funeral home said it had been ruled out.

Funeral home owner Carolyn Whigham said the church service would be by invitation only, reflecting the family's decision to keep the memorial more personal.

"They have shared her for 30-some years with the city, with the state, with the world. This is their time now for their farewell," she said. "The family thanks all the fans, the friends and the media, but this time is their private time."

Houston 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.

After a post-mortem examination on Sunday, authorities said there were no indications of foul play. It could be weeks, however, before the coroner's office completes toxicology tests to establish the cause of death.

Fans will be able to watch the funeral on the internet. Her publicist, Kristen Foster, said The Associated Press would be allowed a camera at the ceremony and it will stream the service on http://livestream.com/aplive.

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