Whitney Houston Funeral: Guests Arrive to Pay Their Respects to the Legend
Friends, family and fans of the late Whitney Houston are arriving to pay their respects to the late singer during her funeral service on Saturday, Feb. 18 -- exactly one week after her sudden and tragic death in Los Angeles.
The service is to be held at the New Hope Baptist Church in Houston's hometown of Newark, New Jersey. According to The Washington Times, approximately 1,5000 guests are expected to be in attendance.
PHOTOS: Iconic Singer Whitney Houston's Life and Career in Pictures
Houston's flower-covered casket arrived at the church early Saturday morning, with Rev. Jesse Jackson on hand, though the service isn't scheduled until 12 p.m. She was driven in a gold-colored hearse, complete with a black and white glamor shot of the singer propped up in the rear passenger side window. Droves of fans stood by as the singer's body was carried into the church.
As The Hollywood Reporter previously reported, Stevie Wonder, R. Kelly and Alicia Keys are expected to perform during the service, though Aretha Franklin, also slated to sing, was forced to back out in the 11th hour. She has been replaced by Queen Latifah.
Spotted entering the church were r&b singer Ray J; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; Star Jones; Forest Whitaker; Diane Sawyer; Mary J. Blige; Cissy Houston, Whitney's mother; Bobbi Kristina Brown, Whitney's daughter; and Bobby Brown, Whitney's ex-husband.
By noon EST, Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King and Mariah Carey had also arrived. Bobby Brown was seen entering the church not long after. With head bowed, he greeted friends and family.
PHOTOS: Hollywood's Notable Deaths of 2012
Also named to the guest list are LA Reid; Mariah Carey; Tyler Perry; Rickey Minor; CeCe Winans, Bobbi Kristina's godmother; Kevin Costner; Dionne Warwick; and gospel singers Kim Burrell and Donnie McClurkin.
Houston's mother has planned for a traditional "homegoing" ceremony, with members of the gospel community on tap to celebrate and honor the life of "Nippy" -- Houston's nickname. Her mentor, Clive Davis, will be a speaker.
Houston died Saturday at the Beverly Hilton hotel, at the age of 48. Her body was found "underwater and apparently unconscious" in a bathtub in her hotel room, police said. An autopsy was completed -- but the results are on security hold pending a toxicology report.
Her body was flown into Newark on Monday night in Perry's private jet; the casket was then driven to the Newark's Whigham Funeral Home, which is handling the services. They can be viewed live on several cable networks and heard on Sirius XM radio's Heart & Soul.