Whitney Houston funeral: Watch live from New Jersey church
Whitney Houston is set to be laid to rest on Saturday, February 18, following a star-studded funeral at a New Jersey church where she showcased her singing skills as a child.
The 48-year-old singer died one week ago, on February 11, at a room at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on the eve of the 2012 Grammy Awards. Houston is survived by her mother, Cissy, her 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina and cousin and singer Dionne Warwick.
Houston's memorial service is taking place at the New Hope Baptist Church in the city of Newark in the singer's native state of New Jersey. The iconic pop singer will then be laid to rest 15 miles away, at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, according to her death certificate, which was obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com. Her father was buried there after he died in 2003. The 105-acre cemetery is also an arboretum. It contains a pond with a fountain, flowers and 61 species of trees.
Houston's ex-husband, singer Bobby Brown, who is the father of her daughter, has been invited to attend the funeral, OnTheRedCarpet.com has learned.
Kevin Costner is set to attend and also speak at the event. He played Houston's love interest in the 1992 movie "The Bodyguard," which marked her film debut and made her even more famous due to her cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You," its lead song.
Aretha Franklin, Houston's godmother, and Stevie Wonder are set to perform at the funeral.
Other stars expected to attend include music mogul Clive Davis, who helped launch her career, R&B star Alicia Keys, gospel stars Kim Burrell and Donnie McClurkin, musical director Rickey Minor and Cece Winans, another gospel singer who is also the godmother of Houston's daughter. Gospel singer and pastor Marvin Winans is set to give the eulogy.
Actor and director Tyler Perry, who reportedly supplied the plane that flew her body from Los Angeles to her native New Jersey earlier this week, is also invited to the funeral, OnTheRedCarpet.com has learned.
The guest list also includes Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce and husband Jay-Z, Elton John, David Bowie, Bill Cosby and Chaka Khan, who was the original singer of "I'm Every Woman," another song Houston sang in "The Bodyguard," a source close to the matter told the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
Mel Gibson was also invited, Houston's spokesperson told OnTheRedCarpet.com, but offered no further details. TMZ reported that Houston's family wanted him to attend the funeral but that he said he would not be able to make it due to family commitments.
MEDICAL RECORDS SOUGHT
Investigators have not revealed what killed Houston, who was found unconscious and underwater in a bathtub by a member of her staff. Her autopsy has been completed but the results will not be released until a toxicology report is produced, which could take up to eight weeks.
The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office recently issued subpoenas for Houston's medical and pharmacy records in a routine move that could speed up its investigation. Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said "a number of doctors" were contacted.
He had previously confirmed that bottles of prescription drugs were found near Houston's body on the day she died. A source close to the matter told OnTheRedCarpet.com that one of them was the antibiotic amoxicillin.
Mixed with alcohol, some medications can cause death. It is unclear what substances Houston ingested on the night she died. The singer had struggled with addictions to drugs such as cocaine and pills and alcohol for years. She relapsed and returned to rehab in May. Witnesses say they saw Houston drinking champagne the night before her death.
Two days before she died, she celebrated and performed at a Los Angeles nightclub in what marked her final performance, although it is unclear whether she consumed alcohol (check out photos and video from the event).