Singer Whitney Houston's family has decided against a public memorial for her at a New Jersey sports arena, and will hold an invitation-only service at the church where she first sang publicly, and where her mother, singer Cissy Houston, still attends services.
On Monday, it was reported that the Houston family was considering a wake and funeral at Newark's Prudential Center, home of the New Jersey Devils and temporarily of the New Jersey Nets. That facility can seat up to 20,000.
But Carolyn Whigham, owner of the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, told the press that there will be no wake, and instead a private funeral at noon Saturday at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where Houston first publicly showcased her powerful voice.
"(The family has) shared her for 30-some years with the city, with the state, with the world," Whigham told the AP. " This is their time now for their farewell."
The church seats about 2,000, but those without invitations will not be admitted. Whigham also said the family had completed arrangements and that no details would be released. There will be no public viewing of any kind.
Although originally it was said that no cameras would be allowed in the church, later on Tuesday it was announced that the service would be filmed, with just one camera allowed inside.
Houston's body was carried to the funeral home Monday afternoon in a golden hearse. Fans lined the streets to watch.
Flowers and notes have been left at the church, including one referencing one of Houston's top hits, "I Will Always Love You," reading "To Whitney Houston and the entire Houston family: Newark loves you and will always love you.
Houston began singing solos in the church at age 11, around 1974, following in the footsteps of her Grammy-winning mother.
"I didn't attend that much then, but my wife used to attend," church member Bob Thomas told msnbc partner theGrio.com. "And my wife would tell me all the time about this young kid who could sing so great."
Houston, 48, was found unconscious and submerged in a bathtub in her room at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., Saturday afternoon. An autopsy was performed, but Los Angeles assistant chief coroner Ed Winter said on Monday that a cause of death will not be announced until the results of toxicology tests are received, which could take weeks.
Winter would not comment on reports of prescription drug bottles being found in Houston's room.
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