15 February, 2012
Aretha Franklin, Cece and Bebe Winas, Ray J, Brandy others, Notables to Attend Whitney Houston's Funeral
In every sense, she will be going home. Publicists and entertainers by Wednesday have confirmed nearly a dozen celebrities and personalities who will be in some of the 1,500 coveted, "invitation-only" seats at Houston's childhood church in Newark, New Jersey.
Gospel singer Marvin Winans, a longtime friend of the Houston family, will give the eulogy at New Hope Baptist Church. Winans officiated Houston's 1992 marriage ceremony to R&B singer Bobby Brown.
Aretha Franklin, Houston's godmother, has been asked to sing at the service, which begins at noon, Franklin's spokeswoman said.
Houston's cousin, singer Dionne Warwick, was in New Jersey helping the family with funeral arrangements, Warwick's publicist said.
Others confirmed on the guest list are Chaka Khan, Bebe & CeCe Winans, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Antonio "L.A." Reid, Ray J and Brandy.
Composer-singer Valerie Simpson of the duo Ashford & Simpson will attend the funeral.
"She was like family," Simpson said of Houston. "Somebody who I watched from the time she was young."
Simpson, who with her late partner Nick Ashford wrote "I'm Every Woman," said Houston "took it to such heights. I remember that on the video, she was pregnant and never looked more beautiful." Houston and Brown had a daughter, Bobbi Christina Brown, who is now 18.
Houston, 48, was found dead in the bathtub of her suite at the Beverly Hilton on Saturday, hours before she was to attend a pre-Grammys bash at the Beverly Hills, California, hotel.
The entertainer's trials and tribulations should not be the focus now, Simpson said. "Those are not her records, those are not her music."
New Hope Pastor Joe Carter described Houston's mother, Cissy -- herself a well-known gospel singer who was active at the church -- as a "strong, strong woman."