Houston's funeral is Saturday at childhood church

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston fans, Lawanda Howkins, left, and Melanie Braggs honor her memory at a candlelight vigil in Leimert Park in Los Angeles on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

NEWARK, New Jersey (AP) — Whitney Houston's funeral will be Saturday in the church where she first sang as a child.

The owner of the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark said Tuesday that the funeral would be at the New Hope Baptist Church, but there will be no wake and no public memorial at Newark's Prudential Center, the sports arena that Houston's family had discussed as a possible venue.

The 48-year-old Houston died last Saturday at a hotel in Beverly Hills, California, just hours before she was set to perform at producer Clive Davis' pre-Grammy Awards party. Officials said 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. It could be weeks before the coroner's office completes toxicology tests to establish the cause of death.

Houston's body was returned to New Jersey late Monday.

Houston was born in Newark and began singing as a child at the New Hope church, where her mother, Grammy-winning gospel singer Cissy Houston, led the music program for many years. Cousin Dionne Warwick also sang in its choir.

An impromptu memorial for Houston was held Sunday during the Grammys, 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.

A sensation from her first album, 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.

Houston left behind one child, daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, 18, from her marriage to singer Bobby Brown.

On Monday, mourners left flowers, balloons and candles for Houston at the wrought-iron fence around the tall brick New Hope church.

___

AP Entertainment Writer Lynn Elbert contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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