Whitney Houston's funeral set for Saturday

Feb. 14, 2012 at 1:50 PM
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NEWARK, N.J., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Whitney Houston's funeral will be held Saturday at the church in Newark, N.J., where she first began singing, the woman handling the arrangements said Tuesday.

Carolyn Whigham, owner of the Whigham Funeral Home, told The (Newark) Star-Ledger the noon service at the New Hope Baptist Church will be invitation only. She also said the recording star will not be buried in Newark.

Dozens of fans stood in freezing temperatures along the sidewalks of Newark Monday night to bear witness to the pop singer's body being brought home.

Fans showed up at Teterboro Airport to catch the arrival of a jet carrying Houston's body from California and watch as a hearse bearing Houston, who was found dead Saturday in Los Angeles, traveled to the funeral home, the newspaper said.

"I'm here just to see her go on her way to her resting place," said Wanda Bruce outside of the Teterboro Airport. "She got me through a lot of days with her music. She lightened your spirit."

Houston, 48, was found dead in her Beverly Hills hotel room Saturday, on the eve of the Grammy Awards ceremony, which she was scheduled to attend. Officials said they are awaiting the results of toxicology tests before determining the cause of her death.

Born in Newark and raised in East Orange, Houston was known for her beauty and extraordinary voice, however, her career was overshadowed in recent years as she battled addictions to drugs and alcohol.

Many in the crowd outside the Newark funeral home remembered Houston's local roots, recalling seeing her on the street, in church, or at an event for her namesake school, the Whitney E. Houston Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, The Star-Ledger said.

"She was a natural, she was blessed," Arlene Sanzari, another fan watching the procession, told the newspaper. "I think she just touched a lot of lives."

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