Family, fans mourn Whitney Houston with tears, prayers

Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:40pm EST
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By Steve Gorman and R.T. Watson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - From the New Jersey church where Whitney Houston's singing career first took flight to the Beverly Hills hotel where her life abruptly ended, family and fans of the pop diva expressed their grief on Sunday with prayer, tears and raw anguish.

Houston's only child, daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, 18, was taken by paramedics from the hotel to nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Sunday suffering from anxiety, Beverly Hills police and fire officials said.

A fire department spokeswoman declined to disclose any information about the daughter's medical condition but said she was "awake and talking" at the time she was transported.

Brown, who was reported by celebrity news website to have been enraged at authorities at not being allowed into the hotel room where her mother's body was found, was treated at the hospital for stress and released, a source close to the family told Reuters. A hospital spokeswoman declined comment.

At the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, Houston's hometown, fans and admirers gathered to celebrate her life during three Sunday services, portions of which were devoted to the singer and her family.

Cards and flowers were tied to the railings of the church, where congregants hugged and cried at the entrance. Among those paying their respects was the Reverend Jesse Jackson, the civil rights activist.

"The suddenness of it all leaves us traumatized," said Jackson, who watched Houston grow up and sing at New Hope. It was in that red brick church on a quiet backstreet near downtown Newark where Houston's career began as a soloist in a gospel choir in the 1970s.

"We must lean on our faith. Our hearts are heavy today," Jackson said.   Continued...

<p>Whitney Houston performs before winning for Best Female R&amp;B Vocal Performance at the 42nd annual Grammy Awards, in this file photo taken February 23, 2000. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn/Files</p>