Whitney Houston to be buried Saturday in small family funeral
Feb 14, 2012, 22:31 GMT
New York/Los Angeles - Singer Whitney Houston's family has planned a small family funeral and burial Saturday in New Jersey, quashing earlier discussions of a large concert to celebrate her life, as followed the 2009 death of Michael Jackson.
The Wigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey, told dpa that the funeral service would be noon (1700 GMT) Saturday at New Hope Baptist Church, Houston's home church where her voice was first heard singing in the choir as a child.
Guests will only be admitted by private invitation, Carolyn Wigham of the funeral home told dpa on Tuesday.
Houston died Saturday at age 48. A member of her entourage found the singer in a bathtub in the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on the eve of the Grammy Awards, the music industry's biggest annual gala.
Investigators found prescription drug bottles in her hotel suite. Los Angeles assistant chief coroner Ed Winter said Monday that 'not many prescription bottles' were found in the singer's room after her death - fewer than investigators usually find in deaths blamed on prescription drug overdoses.
Winter said his main interest was in excluding foul play as the cause of her death. The exact cause of death will be officially known in eight weeks, and he indicated there was a security hold on information in the case, placed by Beverly Hills police.
A Beverly Hills police spokesman declined to comment on a report by celebrity news website TMZ.com quoting family members as saying the soul diva had died from a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol.
Houston's body was flown Monday in a private jet from Los Angeles to Newark. A hearse transferred the casket to the Wigham Funeral Home, where her mother, Cissy Houston, awaited the arrival of her remains.
New Jersey's largest newspaper, The Star Ledger, urged governor Chris Christie to declare a day of official mourning and lower flags to half mast for one of the state's legendary figures.
Houston's death cast a pall Sunday night over the Grammy Awards, which opened with a prayer for the six-time Grammy winner and climaxed with a moving rendition by Jennifer Hudson of Houston's greatest hit, I Will Always Love You.
If her career was on a downswing at the time of her death, after a battle against addiction and a tempestuous marriage, Houston's popularity rapidly climbed after news of her death. She was back on top of the US charts Monday, with her signature song I Will Always Love You as the top-selling single on Apple's iTunes store, despite a strong challenge from the British singer Adele, who had captured a string of awards at the Grammys.
There were conflicting reports about Houston's health in the days before her death. Singer Kelly Price, who sang an impromptu duet with Houston of Jesus Loves Me at a party Thursday night in Los Angeles, told CNN that Houston drank some champagne at the party but was not drugged.
'I didn't see someone who was high,' Price said.
Houston's 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, was overcome by the news of her mother's death and received medical attention Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to her father, Bobby Brown.
Brown released a statement saying that Bobbi Kristina was with his family and her grandmother, Cissy, CNN reported. Houston and Brown divorced in 2007 after a troubled marriage.
Houston's soaring voice and beauty made her one of the world's biggest stars for a decade starting from the mid 1980s, racking up strings of top-selling singles and albums, as well as acting in hit movies The Bodyguard and Waiting to Exhale.
Hailed as having one of the best voices in pop history, her good-girl image made her one of America's best-loved performers.
But her career and image went rapidly downhill as she struggled with addictions to drugs and alcohol. An attempted comeback in 2009 faltered when it became clear during a concert tour that her once-powerful voice had become hoarse and raspy after years of substance abuse.
According to her website, Houston sold more than 170 million albums, singles and videos worldwide in her career.
Houston's career was rooted in a musical family. Her mother, Cissy Houston, was a gospel singer who sang backup with Elvis Presley. Her cousin was music great Dionne Warwick, and her godmother was 'Queen of Soul' Aretha Franklin, who honoured Houston at a concert Monday night in Charlotte, North Carolina.