Whitney Houston remembered at NJ hometown funeral

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Whitney Houston was laid to rest on Sunday in a private burial service at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, N.J. a day after the star-studded memorial service at the New Hope Baptist Church.

Fans threw rose petals as the gold hearse carrying the singer's body arrived to bring her to her final resting place alongside her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003.

On Saturday, clapping hands and swaying to gospel hymns in the church where Whitney Houston's powerful voice once wowed her congregation, the biggest names in entertainment sang along with the choir to remember the pop superstar at her hometown funeral.

"We are here today, hearts broken but yet with God's strength we celebrate the life of Whitney Houston," the Rev. Joe A. Carter told the packed New Hope Baptist Church after the choir behind him sang "The Lord is My Shepherd."


Mourners including singer Jennifer Hudson and Houston's mother, gospel singer Cissy Houston, stood, swayed and clapped along in the aisles. Gospel singers BeBe Winans and the Rev. Kim Burrell joined with pop stars like Alicia Keys in paying tribute to the 48-year-old pop superstar who first began singing in the Newark church.

"You wait for a voice like that for a lifetime," said music mogul Clive Davis, who shepherded Houston's career for decades.

The service had lighthearted moments too - Kevin Costner imagining a young Houston using her winning smile to get out of trouble, Houston's cousin Dionne Warwick offering short insights about the singer.

Others were more mournful; singer Ray J., who spent time with Houston during her last days, broke down crying. His sister, singer Brandy, put her arm around him. Cissy Houston and Houston's daughter, 18-year-old Bobbi Kristina, clutched each other. Toward the end of the service, Bobbi Kristina and Ray J. embraced at length and spoke. Others gathered near the front of the church and hugged each other.

The most powerful moment was reserved for the end. As Houston's casket was carried out, her hit "I Will Always Love You" played. Bobbi Kristina began crying, and the sobs of Houston's mother rang throughout the church.

"My baby!" she wailed.

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