Stars come out for Whitney Houston's funeral

Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:08pm EST
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A star-studded lineup will sing and speak at pop star Whitney Houston's funeral, from Alicia Keys and Kevin Costner to the soul and gospel music royalty from which she hails, including her cousin Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin.

Houston will be laid to rest on Saturday after an invitation-only memorial service at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, where Houston groomed her voice singing in the church choir with her mother Cissy Houston, a soul and gospel singer who once backed up Franklin.

The singer, who rose to fame with a soaring voice and hits in the mid-1980s such as "Saving All My Love For You," died in a Beverly Hills hotel room almost a week ago on the eve of the music industry's Grammy Awards. She was found underwater in her hotel room's bathtub. A cause of death has yet to be determined.

Along with her signature song, "I Will Always Love You," her other hits included "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," and she starred in movies "The Bodyguard" and "The Preacher's Wife."

Other top names taking part in the service include Houston's mentor and record producer Clive Davis, singer Stevie Wonder and Hollywood actor and producer Tyler Perry, who donated his plane to fly her body from Los Angeles to Newark earlier this week.

Elton John, Beyonce and rapper Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Cosby are also expected to attend, according to reports.

It is not yet known if singer Bobby Brown, who Houston divorced in 2007 after a tumultuous 15-year marriage that began as Houston's music career began to slide, will be there. The couple have a daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, 18, who was in Los Angeles when her mother died.

The death of the beloved pop star who had a long history of addiction to alcohol and cocaine stunned the music world, her family and fans, and some of those close to her have publicly said they thought Houston had been getting healthier.   Continued...

People write messages at the entrance of Whigham Funeral Home, which is handling the funeral service of pop singer Whitney Houston, in Newark, New Jersey February 17, 2012.  REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz