NEWARK, N.J. — Whitney Houston’s funeral service will be held Saturday in the church where she first showcased her singing talents as a child.
The owner of the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark said Tuesday that Miss Houston’s funeral will be held at noon at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. The funeral home said no wake would be held and there would be no public memorial at Newark's Prudential Center, the sports arena that the family had discussed as a possible venue.
The 48-year-old Miss Houston died Feb. 11 at a hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., just hours before she was set to perform at producer Clive Davis‘ pre-Grammy Awards bash. Officials say she was underwater and apparently unconscious when she was pulled from a bathtub.
After an autopsy Sunday, authorities said there were no indications of foul play and no obvious signs of trauma on Miss Houston. It could be weeks, however, before the coroner’s office completes toxicology tests to establish the cause of death.
Los Angeles County coroner’s assistant chief Ed Winter said there were bottles of prescription medicine in the room. He would not give details except to say: “There weren’t a lot of prescription bottles. You probably have just as many prescription bottles in your medicine cabinet.”
Her body was returned to New Jersey late Monday.
Miss Houston was born in Newark and raised in nearby East Orange. She began singing as a child at New Hope Baptist Church, where her mother, Grammy-winning gospel singer Cissy Houston, led the music program for many years. Her cousin Dionne Warwick also sang in its choir.
An impromptu memorial for Miss Houston was held Sunday during a sadness-tinged Grammy program, with Jennifer Hudson saluting her memory with a performance of “I Will Always Love You.” Viewership for the awards show soared over last year by 50 percent, with about 40 million viewers tuning in to the program on CBS.
On Monday, mourners left flowers, balloons and candles for Miss Houston at the wrought-iron fence around the tall brick church, which sits near the edge of an abandoned housing project near the train line leading to New York City.
“I grew up listening to her as a little boy, and to hear her sing, you knew she was special,” he said.
A sensation from her first album, Miss Houston was one of the world’s best-selling artists from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, turning out such hits as “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “How Will I Know,” “The Greatest Love of All” and “I Will Always Love You.” But as she struggled with drugs, her majestic voice became raspy, and she couldn’t hit the high notes.
Miss Houston left behind one child, daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, 18, from her marriage to singer Bobby Brown.
• AP entertainment writer Lynn Elber contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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