Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage
Whitney Houston will be laid to rest in the town where she was born, according to a local news report. The family of the groundbreaking singer, who was found dead in the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, is said to be arranging her memorial service with Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, N.J. According to TMZ Houston's body is expected to be flown to New Jersey in Tyler Perry's private plane on Monday evening.
The funeral, which will likely take place on Friday or Saturday, is reportedly being held at Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where Houston sang in the choir and played piano as a child. (Her mother, gospel singer Cissy Houston, was the choir mistress, and Whitney's cousin Dionne Warwick was also a choir member.) Watch video of the young Houston singing in church, below.
"We thank God for the gift of her unique voice," Pastor Joe Carter told the grieving New Hope congregation on Sunday. "Others live to be 80 or 90 years old, but when they're gone they leave us nothing to remember. Whitney left us so many wonderful memories. We remember, we rejoice for that phenomenal one of a kind gift. Praise God for the gift."
An outgoing telephone message at the church asks callers to honor Houston's memory by respecting her family's privacy and keeping her family in their prayers. Mourners have transformed the grounds of the church into a makeshift memorial in the past two days, leaving notes and flowers in honor of their hometown legend.
Houston was pronounced dead on Saturday afternoon, after a member of her family found her unconscious in her hotel bathtub. The official cause of death will not be known until toxicology results come back in four to six weeks; however, it is being reported that she died from a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. Los Angeles police say that they do not suspect foul play. Houston was 48 years old.