Whitney Houston Funeral Held At Childhood Church

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Whitney Elizabeth Houston, mother, daughter, friend, pop superstar, was remembered yesterday by those who knew her best during her 'Home Going' tribute at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, NJ.

Houston, who was found dead one week ago, was celebrated throughout the four hour church service attended by a who's who in the entertainment industry and Government, Civil Rights and Religious leaders.

Dionne Warwick, Whitney's cousin, lead the service for her "Nippy" with grace and loving care which combined prayer, expressions, words of encouragements, music presentation and stories of a women who lived in the public eye and few knew.

Celebrity Interview - Director Kevin Macdonald, Executive Producer Pat Houston talk on Whitney

Bebe and Cece Winans, Gospel music celebrities, and extended family of the Houston's, introduced Whitney's sense of humor, the relaxed light hearted unguarded Whitney, presented song and Reverend Marvin L. Winans gave the eulogy.

Bishop T.D. Jakes spoke sound, solid words of encouragement intermingled with scripture directed to all and certainly to her family and extended family who mourn the loss of her presence deeply. As much as the service was designed to celebrate Whitney's life and legacy, the profound loss carried through the broadcast and initially the sorrow overshadowed the celebration.

Whitney's faith in Jesus Christ was presented and, as in her life, remained the focal point. Beginning with an introduction from New Hope Baptist Church Pastor Joe A. Carter and with each speaker, friend and family member stories of her faith, her generosity, her gifts and her sense of humor were told.

Kevin Costner, her co-star in The Bodyguard recounted Whitney's church rearing, her self-doubt and surprising the audience with his own church background, faith and how their connection through their faith brought them closer. He spoke of wrangling with studio executives as he fought to have her star in a film that would usher in a new era for the already then global icon. He spoke of their collaboration which created box office gold, a soundtrack that followed and a signature song that won her another Grammy.

Clive Davis, Arista Records executive, who discovered Whitney in 1983 as she sang with her mother, Cissy Houston at Sweetwater's Nightclub in New York City spoke as an adorning father trying to find a voice in a time of sorrow. His support, mentoring, devotion and love were present in his words and evident in his memorial. She was devoted to him; and he to her. They loved each other, treasured each other and were dedicated to each other. His loss was felt.

Whitney Review - Beautiful, Sentimental and Heartbreakingly Honest

Whitney's mother, Cissy Houston, was a formidable guiding force in the singer's life and events following her tragic death. As stories were told and a fuller, picture of a private Whitney were revealed, unknown to even the prying eye of the press, a Mother's love for her daughter, her God, her faith and her hope were also etched into the mural of a women loved by all and known by few.

Musical presentations were performed by Reverend and Gospel singer Donnie McCurklin, BeBe Winans, Kim Burrell, Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder who offered two songs personalizing a special composition for the late pop icon.

Additional expressions were offered by Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark NJ, Tyler Perry, Patricia Houston, band leader and friend, Ricky Minor and Ray Watson, Houston's longtime bodyguard. Aretha Franklin who was expected to attend and offer words of remembrance, due to illness, did not.

Whitney Houston drowned last week after falling asleep during a bath at her fourth floor luxury suite at the exclusive Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel. Her struggles with substance abuse and drug dependency have been well documented, admitted by the mega-star and on several occasions professionally treated.

Although Beverly Hills Detectives have indicated there was no foul play involved in her death which was ruled defered pending investiagation, the LA Coroner has ordered subpoenas into the superstar's medical records. 

Whitney Houston is survived by her mother, Cissy Houston, daughter Bobbi Kristina, various aunts including singer Dionne Warwick and DeeDee Warwick.  Her final resting place will be at Westfield, NJ cemetery near her father, the late John Houston.

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