Whitney Houston’s funeral will be held Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Newark church the pop singer attended as a youth, according to the owner of the funeral home where her body was taken last night.
The service at New Hope Baptist Church in New Jersey will be invitation-only and no wake is planned, Carolyn Whigham, owner of the Whigham Funeral Home, said today in an interview. Houston won’t be buried in Newark, said Whigham, who declined to provide further details, citing privacy concerns.
Houston “grew up” at New Hope Baptist, “a church she loved and visited whenever she had the occasion,” according to a news release on its website. Houston’s mother, Emily “Cissy” Houston, served as the minister of sacred music for more than 54 years and remains a “faithful member,” according to the statement. The church held a special weekend prayer service in the singer’s honor.
The 48-year-old pop singer was found in a bath tub “underwater and apparently unconscious” at about 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the Beverly Hilton hotel by a member of her staff, according to police. She was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. after unsuccessful resuscitation efforts.
Beverly Hills Police are investigating the circumstances of Houston’s death, said Lieutenant Mark Rosen, a spokesman. Foul play isn’t suspected and the cause of death won’t be known until the results of toxicology tests are available in two or three weeks, he said.
“There is an active investigation, a death investigation,” Rosen said yesterday. “This was not prompted by Ms. Houston’s celebrity or notoriety. This is routine.”
The 18,500-seat Prudential Center in Newark had been offered for the funeral, said a person with knowledge of the situation who requested anonymity because the plans weren’t public.
To contact the reporter on this story: Esme E. Deprez in New York at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at firstname.lastname@example.org