Houston`s mother, daughter lead mourners
New Jersey: Whitney Houston`s mother and daughter led the mourners ahead of her funeral at her hometown as the nation prepares to say final goodbye to the American icon.
A website has reported that with millions of fans set to witness Houston`s funeral at noon Saturday, the late singer`s family members, including her mother Cissy and daughter Bobbi Kristina, took the opportunity to pay their respects in private Friday.
A tearful Cissy Houston arrived at Whigham Funeral Home in the singer`s hometown of Newark, New Jersey, alongside her 18-year-old granddaughter. They were later joined by famous faces including Houston`s life-long friend and mentor Clive Davis as well as the singer`s cousin Dionne Warwick. Funeral director Caroline Whigham told the crowd gathered outside that the viewing "was done in privacy between a mother, a daughter, two brothers and a family", according to a magazine.
The mourning family was also accompanied by a strong police presence which ensured the large crowds of fans who gathered outside the home kept their distance. The heavy officer presence comes amid police warnings for fans to stay at home to watch the service rather than scramble for a place near the New Hope Baptist Church. Authorities say fans will not even be able to get within six square blocks of the church.
Whitney`s daughter Bobbi Kristina, pictured in public for the first time since she was rushed to hospital following the singer`s death in a Beverly Hills hotel, arrived at the funeral home in dark jeans, white vest and a black jacket. The 18-year-old appeared controlled as she entered the funeral home.
"There are moments when she is strong and moments when it all hits her," a source told a magazine. "She can`t escape it."
Bobbi is the daughter of Houston and her former husband Bobby Brown. It has been reported that the she will now live with her grandmother "indefinitely". Family and friends were greeted by what appeared to be an Egyptian-decorated casket outside the home. As well as close family of Houston in attendance friends also gathered together to pay their respects.
Whitney`s on-off boyfriend Ray-J was seen making his way through LAX airport with his sister Brandy on their way to New Jersey ahead of the funeral. Kevin Costner, who starred opposite Houston in the 1992 film ‘The Bodyguard’, was also seen making his way east at the airport. Fans gathered outside where they signed a book of condolence and laid tributes, including flowers, balloons and teddy bears. It is expected that fans will be blocked off the site once the 48-year-old star`s family arrives for her wake ahead of Saturday`s funeral. At the service, a galaxy of stars are to pay tribute to Houston at a gathering not seen since the death of Michael Jackson.
David Bowie will supposedly be among those attending the private service as will Janet Jackson, rapper Jay-Z, Mariah Carey and R n B singer R Kelly. Alicia Keys will reportedly perform, as will Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, who was Miss Houston`s godmother.