Fans of Whitney Houston, who died on Feb. 11 at age 48, may not be able to attend the late pop singer’s funeral tomorrow, but they can watch it elsewhere. The funeral, which is being held at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark at noon, is expected to be broadcast on television and on the Internet, news outlets such as CNN and the Washington Post are reporting.
Houston’s family had reportedly considered a public funeral at the Prudential Center in Newark but ultimately decided on keeping the event private. The funeral is an invitation-only event.
City police will establish a perimeter spanning six blocks around New Hope on Saturday, blocking anyone without a ticket to the services from getting near the church grounds, the Star-Ledger reported.
Gov. Chris Christie has said he will have flags fly half-staff at all government buildings on Saturday, despite criticism from some of the public. (Newark Mayor Cory Booker also announced that flags at Newark’s municipal buildings will be lowered.)
“Whitney Houston was an important part of the cultural fabric of this state,” Christie said at a press conference on Monday defending his decision. “I think she belongs in the same category from a musical perspective in New Jersey history with folks like Frank Sinatra, Count Basie and Bruce Springsteen. She was a cultural icon in this state.”
Houston’s roots in Northern New Jersey run deep. Born in Newark, Houston moved with her family to East Orange when she was four. She was raised on Dodd Street, sang choir at New Hope, and attended Mount Saint Dominic Academy in Caldwell. The East Orange elementary school she attended now bears her name.
Houston was found dead in the bathtub of a hotel room in Beverly Hills, a day before the Grammy Awards, which she was to attend. The cause of her death is still not known.
Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Costner (who starred with Houston in “The Bodyguard”), Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, Houston’s godmother, are among those expected to attend the funeral.