Private viewing held for Whitney Houston and stage set for funeral
UPI News Service, 02/18/2012
A private viewing for late pop star Whitney Houston was held Friday evening at Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, N.J.
Attending the wake were Houston's mother Cissy, her 18-year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina, and other family members and close friends, E! News reported.
An invitation-only funeral is to take place at noon Saturday at Newark's New Hope Baptist Church where Houston sang as a child and teen.
BeBe and CeCe Winans are set to sing at the service, which will be officiated by their brother Marvin, E! said. Also expected to perform are Stevie Wonder and Houston's godmother, Aretha Franklin. Clive Davis, Houston's mentor, and Kevin Costner, her co-star in the 1992 blockbuster "The Bodyguard," are slated to say a few words.
Among those confirmed to attend are Houston cousin Dionne Warwick, Forest Whitaker, Chaka Khan, Ray J, Kim Burrell, Rickey Minor, Alicia Keys and Bishop T.D. Jakes, E! said. Houston's ex-husband, singer Bobby Brown, also is expected to be at the church.
E! News said Oprah Winfrey was invited, but it's unclear if she'll make it. Elton John, Beyonce and Diana Ross will not be attending, however, contrary to rumors claiming they will be there, E! said.
UsMagazine.com said it confirmed an invitation had been extended to actor-director Mel Gibson by the singer's family out of appreciation for his attempts to help Houston with her addictions to drugs and alcohol. He will not, however, be at the service because of prior commitments.
Celebrity news Web site TMZ Friday posted the invitation to the church service that mourners received.
It showed a photo of a radiant Houston and said, "With heartfelt gratitude, the Houston Family requests the honor of your presence at the home going service for Whitney Elizabeth Houston."
Houston is to be buried Sunday alongside her father at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, N.J.
The 48-year-old music icon was found dead in her Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel room Feb. 11, 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, but sources close to her family have said a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs are believed to be to blame.
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