News

Tampa Bay And The World Say Goodbye To Whitney Houston Today

NEKESA MUMBI MOODY, AP Music Writer
View Comments
A Fillipino fan of US pop diva, Whitney Houston, signs a tribute mural displaying a portrait of her idol at a mall in Manila on February 17, 2012.  (Photo credit :TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

A Fillipino fan of US pop diva, Whitney Houston, signs a tribute mural displaying a portrait of her idol at a mall in Manila on February 17, 2012. (Photo credit :TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

News

Get Breaking News First

Receive News, Politics, and Entertainment Headlines Each Morning.
Sign Up

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — To the world, Whitney Houston was the pop queen with the perfect voice, the dazzling diva with regal beauty, a troubled superstar suffering from addiction and, finally, another victim of the dark side of fame.

To her family and friends, she was just “Nippy.” A nickname given to Houston when she was a child, it stuck with her through adulthood and, later, would become the name of one of her companies. To them, she was a sister, a friend, a daughter, and a mother.

93311558 Tampa Bay And The World Say Goodbye To Whitney Houston Today

Whitney Houston onstage at the 2009 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (photo credit: Getty Images)

While the world remembers Houston from afar, those closest to her will gather Saturday at a private funeral to say goodbye. They come together at New Hope Baptist Church, where Houston wowed the congregation with her powerful voice even as a young girl.

A few fans gathered Saturday morning hours before the service as close as they could get to the church, some from as far away as Washington, D.C., and Miami.

One fan said he was there “just to be among the rest of the fans.

“Just to celebrate her life, not just her death,” said Bobby Brooks of Washington. “Just to sing and dance with the people that love her.”

Others were more entrepreneurial, setting up card tables to sell silk-screened T-shirts with Houston’s image and her CDs. But only the invited would get close to the church; streets were closed to the public for blocks in every direction.

A couple of hours before the funeral, the blockades parted to allow in the hearse carrying Houston’s body in a silver casket, draped in black.

The service marks exactly one week after the 48-year-old Houston — one of music’s all-time biggest stars — was found dead in a Beverly Hills hotel in California. A cause of death has yet to be determined.

138995113 e1329582186764 Tampa Bay And The World Say Goodbye To Whitney Houston Today

Whitney Houston receives from her mother the World Best-Selling Pop Artist of the year award during the 6th World Music Award ceremony in Monte-Carlo on May 5, 1994. (Photo credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images)

Close family friend Aretha Franklin, whom Houston lovingly called “Aunt Ree,” was expected to sing at the service, but she is no longer planning to attend, said a person close to the Houston family who was not authorized to talk about Franklin’s decision and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Stevie Wonder and gospel star CeCe Winans are expected to sing. Music mogul Clive Davis, who launched and shepherded her career throughout the decades, may speak, along with Kevin Costner, her co-star in the blockbuster film “The Bodyguard.”

1090399261 e1329580795820 Tampa Bay And The World Say Goodbye To Whitney Houston Today

Whitney Houston and her daughter Bobby Christina arrive at the 2011 Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Salute To Industry Icons Honoring David Geffen at Beverly Hilton on February 12, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. ( Photo credit: Getty Images)

Her ex-husband Bobby Brown also is expected to attend, along with the couple’s only child, Bobbi Kristina.

Houston’s death marked the final chapter for the superstar whose fall from grace while shocking was years in the making. Houston had her first No. 1 hit by the time she was 22, followed by a flurry of No. 1 songs and multi-platinum records.

Over her career, she sold more than 50 million records in the United States alone. Her voice, an ideal blend of power, grace and beauty, made classics out of songs like “Saving All My Love For You,” ”I Will Always Love You,” ”The Greatest Love of All” and “I’m Every Woman.” Her six Grammys were only a fraction of her many awards.

But amid the fame, a turbulent marriage to Brown and her addiction to drugs tarnished her image. She became a woman falling apart in front of the world.

Her last album, “I Look To You,” debuted on the top of the charts when it was released in 2009 with strong sales, but didn’t have the staying power of her previous records. A tour the next year was doomed by cancellations because of illness and sub-par performances.

Still, a comeback was ahead: She was to star in the remake of the movie “Sparkle” and was working on new music. Her family, friends and hard-core fans were hopeful.

The funeral is for invited guests only. Houston is scheduled to be buried next to her father, John Houston, in nearby Westfield, N.J.

93313518 Tampa Bay And The World Say Goodbye To Whitney Houston Today

Whitney onstage at the 2009 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

The Associated Press will stream the funeral service on the Internet at http://www.livestream.com/aplive and broadcasters also will be able to air it.

E! cable channel has just announced that it is planning an E! News Special Report, Whitney Houston: The Funeral, beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET/ 8:30 a.m. PT on Saturday.

__

AP Entertainment writers Alicia Quarles and Mesfin Fekadu contributed to this report.

___

Online:

http://www.whitneyhouston.com

__

Nekesa Mumbi Moody is the AP’s music editor. Follow her at http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

View Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 938 other followers