Whitney Houston’s Funeral: Friends, Family, Stars Will Honor Singer

February 18, 2012 by staff 

Whitney Houston’s Funeral: Friends, Family, Stars Will Honor Singer, Soul, gospel and pop music greats from the past and present are set to mourn Whitney Houston on Saturday, one week after the sudden death of the singer whose spectacular voice and best-selling albums made her one of biggest pop stars of her era.

Houston, who died in a Beverly Hills hotel room last week, recorded stirring love songs and vibrant, dance tunes during a 30-year career that peaked with her 1992 signature hit “I Will Always Love You.” She was due to be honored by family and friends at a funeral service in her native Newark, New Jersey.

Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Houston’s cousin Dionne Warwick will perform at the New Hope Baptist Church where Houston sang as a child in the choir with her mother Cissy Houston, who once backed up Franklin.

Hollywood stars Kevin Costner and Tyler Perry and Houston’s mentor, record producer Clive Davis, were scheduled to deliver remarks. Oprah Winfrey, Elton John, Beyonce and Bill Cosby were expected to attend the service.

Houston’s family decided against a public memorial, but fans were expected to crowd the streets around the church, funeral home and nearby cemetery where she is due to be buried.

Many have left flowers, cards and balloons dedicated to the singer who became an global star with her 1985 debut album that included the hits “Saving All My Love For You,” “How Will I Know” and “Greatest Love Of All.”

Houston was among the greatest singers of the 1980s and 1990s, but her personal life and marriage to singer Bobby Brown was tumultuous. She admitted to heavy use of cocaine, marijuana, alcohol and prescription pills.

But her death at age 48 shocked her family, fans and the music industry. Houston was found underwater in a hotel bathtub on the eve of the music industry’s Grammy Awards. A cause of death has yet to be determined.

Police urged fans to stay home and watch the funeral on the Internet or TV. They planned to lock down the streets near the invitation-only funeral.

Houston’s life began surrounded by gospel and soul music legends like Franklin and Warwick. She later forged new territory for a black, female artist who brought R&B and gospel touches into pop music’s mainstream.

After her debut, her popularity grew exponentially with her second album, “Whitney” (1987), with all four singles – “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, “So Emotional”, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” – hitting No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.

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