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Whitney Houston funeral to have star-studded choir perform at service in Newark

A star-studded choir of music legends will perform at Whitney Houston’s funeral, The Daily News has learned.

The pop diva will receive a send-off fit for the pop icon she was when mourners pack into her childhood church in Newark at noon Saturday.

“The family has made it very clear there is going to be a strong musical celebration of her life,” New Hope Baptist Church Pastor Joe Carter said.

He stopped short of revealing who would be in the exclusive choir.

“I can’t name names,” he added.


The Rev. Marvin Winans, the Detroit pastor who married Houston to Bobby Brown, will deliver the eulogy, the Daily News has learned.

Winans, a longtime friend of Houston’s, is also brother to gospel artists BeBe and CeCe Winans.

Whitney comes from a celebrated musical family.

Her mother is gospel singer Cissy Houston and her cousin is Dionne Warwick. Aretha Franklin was her godmother.

The “I Will Always Love You” singer also counted Chaka Khan as one of her closest friends.

R&B singer Kelly Price, who shared the stage with Whitney on her last ever performance, and Jennifer Hudson are also expected to attend.

Carolyn Whigham, owner of Whigham Funeral Home, said the singer’s family had personally made the arrangements and the service would be by “invitation only.”

The family had considered a larger public funeral, possibly at the Prudential Center arena or even in Atlanta, but in the end the decision was made to keep the service small and private.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was planning to order flags in the state to be flown at half-staff in Houston’s memory.


Speaking for Houston’s family, Whigham said the star’s mom, Cissy, and other relatives were grateful for the outpouring of support but hoped to grieve in private.

“They thank all of the fans and friends and the media, but at this time this is their private time.

“They shared her for 30 some years with the city, with the state, with the world.

This is their time now for their farewell to their daughter, mother.”

Whigham said the family collectively made the decision to have the funeral at New Hope Baptist Church, where Houston sang as a child.

“I’ve know this family for many, many, many years,” she said. “From an emotional standpoint, this is very difficult for all of us.”

“What young girl wants to lose her mother?” she added, referring to Houston’s 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina.

“It’s a double-sided sword. You have a mother grieving. You have a daughter grieving. You have two brothers grieving. This is really hard. They're very close.”

“They are our family and we are grieving along with them,” she said.

Houston’s body was flown to New Jersey by a private jet belonging to film director Tyler Perry from Los Angeles on Monday.

Houston met her untimely death in a bathroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, the day before the Grammy Awards. Prescription drug sedatives were found nearby.

A macabre photograph of the bathtub 48-year-old Houston died in was posted online by celebrity website


The snap was allegedly taken moments after police and medics removed the pop diva’s lifeless body from the bathroom.

It shows the tub still full of water, with two hair ties, a towel and a gravy dish lying on the bottom.

The gravy dish may have been filled with olive oil, a ritual Houston adopted to keep her skin soft, according to TMZ.


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Topics : Entertainment_CultureHuman Interest
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Locations : AtlantaDetroitLos AngelesNew JerseyNewark
People : Aretha FranklinBobbi KristinaBobby BrownCarolyn WhighamCeCe WinansChaka KhanChris ChristieCissy HoustonDionne WarwickHope BaptistJennifer HudsonJoe CarterKelly PriceMarvin WinansTyler PerryWhitney Houston

02/15/2012 5:19AM
Whitney Houston funeral to have star-studded choir perform at service in Newark on Saturday
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