(NEW YORK-AFP) – The funeral on Saturday for pop superstar Whitney Houston will be broadcast live from the New Jersey Baptist church where she grew up singing in a gospel choir, the funeral home owner said Wednesday.
“Her publicist has chosen one person who will be allowed into the sanctuary and who will be streaming (video) to you all,” Carolyn Whigham, whose Newark funeral home is handling preparations for Houston’s service, told AFP.
Whigham said that jumbo screens would be set up outside the New Hope Baptist Church, allowing fans of the singer, who died Saturday at the age of 48, to watch the ceremony.
Houston was found unconscious in her bathtub on Saturday afternoon at the Beverly Hilton hotel as preparations were under way for the Grammy Awards, the highlight of the music industry calendar. Medics were unable to revive her.
Houston, who possessed one of the greatest-ever singing voices and sold more than 170 million records, fought a long and public battle with substance abuse after her career and personal life went off the rails.
Earlier in the day, Newark police chief Samuel DeMaio had told the Star-Ledger newspaper that there would be no funeral procession and no public screens set up, at the request of Houston’s family.
The ceremony, due to begin at noon Saturday (1700 GMT) is by invitation only. Houston honed her singing craft at New Hope Baptist Church, and her mother Cissy served as music director there for decades.
Soul diva Aretha Franklin, Houston’s godmother, and activist and politician Jesse Jackson are on the guest list, the Star-Ledger reported. The church can hold about 1,500 people.
Houston will be buried in the family plot near her father at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, about 10 miles (15 kilometers) from the church, celebrity website TMZ reported.
Fans were awaiting autopsy results that may not be made public for up to eight weeks, as speculation rages that the singing legend may have died from a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs and alcohol.