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Whitney Houston buried in New Jersey

2012-02-19 21:26

Westfield - Family and friends of Whitney Houston gathered on Sunday for a private ceremony at a New Jersey cemetery to bury the singing star, a day after an emotional farewell celebrating her life.

The golden hearse carrying Houston arrived at the cemetery in suburban Westfield where the singing star was to be buried next to her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003.

On Saturday Hollywood stars, music greats and loved ones had gathered for an emotional farewell ceremony in the Newark Baptist Church where she sang as a child.

She died Saturday a week ago at age 48, prompting sadness and tributes from fans and cohorts in the entertainment world.

The four-hour service on Saturday ended with pallbearers carrying Houston's coffin out of the church as a recording played her signature song, I Will Always Love You, regarded by many her finest work.

The recording was from the soundtrack of the 1992 box office smash film The Bodyguard, in which she co-starred with Kevin Costner, who paid tribute to Houston in remarks made at the funeral.

"I urge us all inside and outside, across the nation and around the world, to dry our tears, suspend our sorrow and perhaps our anger just long enough, just long enough to remember the sweet miracle of Whitney," the actor said.

Although Houston's musical success took her away from New Jersey across the world, countless friends and relatives told on Saturday of how she never lost sight of Newark and the community that shaped her.


Clive Davis, the legendary producer who became Houston's mentor, told the service he was spellbound when he first met her in 1983.

"You wait for a voice like that for a lifetime. You wait for a face like that, a smile like that, a presence like that, for a lifetime. And when one person embodies it all, well, it takes your breath away," Davis said.

Costner, in a frank recollection of his time spent with Houston, recalled how the singer almost missed out on her role in The Bodyguard, on account of her skin colour and lack of acting experience.

"We could also think about another singer," was a suggestion. Maybe somebody white.

"Nobody ever said it out loud, but it was a fair question," Costner recalled of questions posed to him at the time by the movie's producers.

"I told everyone that I had taken notice that Whitney was black. The only problem was I thought she was perfect for what we were trying to do," he said, crediting Warner Brothers for agreeing. The movie became a blockbuster.

Streets near the red brick church, which has been adorned with floral tributes, candles, balloons and condolence cards in recent days, were sealed off as the memorial service was by invitation only.

Bobby Brown

Fans were respectfully asked to stay away from the church, which had a capacity of 1 500 at the private event, but several hundred turned up regardless.

Houston's ex-husband, soul performer Bobby Brown, with whom she had a daughter during a turbulent 15-year marriage, left the service within minutes of his arrival, saying in a statement later that he and his children "were seated by security and then subsequently asked to move on three separate occasions".

"In light of the events, I gave a kiss to the casket of my ex-wife and departed as I refused to create a scene," Brown said in the statement released to US media late on Saturday.

Whitney Houston sold more than 170 million records during a nearly three-decade career, but she fought a long and public battle against substance abuse while trying to keep her performing talent alive.

Speculation has raged since her death that the singer may have succumbed to a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs and alcohol, though official results from her autopsy may not be made public for up to eight weeks.

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