Remembering the pop queen

Whitney Houston Funeral to Be Streamed Live Online

Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder will perform and Kevin Costner speak at funeral

By DANIEL MACHT
|  Thursday, Feb 16, 2012  |  Updated 3:50 PM PDT
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    Whitney Houston’s fans will be given a virtual front-row seat for what's shaping up to be a star-studded funeral.

    Houston's publicist, Kristen Foster, announced Wednesday that The Associated Press will be allowed a camera at Saturday's private service at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. Viewers can watch the funeral here (9 a.m. PST, noon EST).

    Houston got her start singing in the choir of the church, whose pews can seat about 1,500. Houston's mother, Grammy award-winning gospel singer Cissy Houston, led the church's musical program. Houston's cousin, singer Dionne Warwick, also sang in its choir. 

    On Saturday, Grammy-winning gospel singer and longtime family friend Marvin Winans will deliver Houston’s eulogy. His siblings, the gospel duo BeBe & CeCe Winans (also Grammy winners), could sing at the event, according to the New York Daily News.

    Houston's godmother, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder are slated to perform at the funeral, while record producer and longtime Houston champion Clive Davis will speak, according to People.

    Kevin Costner, who co-starred with Houston on the hit 1992 film "The Bodyguard," will also speak during the funeral service, People reported.

    Other celebrities who could be in attendance include: Houston's on-again off-again boyfriend Ray J and his sister Brandy, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, record exec L.A. Reid, singers Valerie Simpson, Chaka Khan and Darlene Love, the Daily News reported.

    A spokesperson for Bobby Brown, meanwhile, shot down rumors Houston's ex-husband was being shut out of her funeral, NBC News reported.

    Newark’s top cop urged Houston’s fans Thursday to “respect the wishes of the family” by allowing them to “grieve without interruption,” the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

    Police plan to block off about six square blocks that surround the church, Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio said.

    News on the latest developments with Houston's funeral preparations came as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defended his decision for flags to fly at half-mast throughout the state Saturday in honor of the pop superstar.

    In response to complaints that the honor should be reserved for fallen service members, Christie said he had ordered flags flown at half-staff for all 31 fallen New Jersey soldiers and every fallen police officer during his time in office.

    He also ordered flags lowered last year for Clarence Clemons, the saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.

    Christie called Houston, who was born in Newark and raised in neighboring East Orange, a “daughter of New Jersey.”

    The Republican governor said he rejected other criticism that Houston "forfeited the good things that she did" because of her struggles with substance abuse.

    "I am disturbed by people who believe that because her ultimate demise — and we don't know what is the cause of her death yet — but because of her history of substance abuse that somehow she's forfeited the good things that she did in her life," he said. "I just reject that on a human level."

    Houston will be buried after Saturday's funeral at Fair View Cemetery in Westfield, N.J., according to her death certificate. Her father, John Russell Houston Jr., was buried there in 2003.

    Meanwhile, the Los Angeles investigation continues into Houston's death last weekend at age 48.

    Authorities have issued subpoenas to Houston's doctors and pharmacists for medical records, NBC's "Today" show reported.

    Los Angeles Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said such inquiries are routine in virtually all death investigations.

    With toxicology reports not due for several weeks, the cause of death listed on Houston’s death certificate remains “deferred.”


     

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