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Whitney Houston buried in New Jersey

21 february 2012, 00:09
The hearse that carries the casket of pop singer Whitney Houston arrives at Fairview Cemetery. ©REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
The hearse that carries the casket of pop singer Whitney Houston arrives at Fairview Cemetery. ©REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Family and friends of Whitney Houston attended a private burial ceremony for the singing star at a New Jersey cemetery on Sunday, a day after an emotional farewell celebrating her life, AFP reports.

A golden hearse carried the pop star to suburban Westfield, where she was to be buried next to her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003.

Fans and onlookers lined the route as the motorcade entered the grounds of Fairview Cemetery for a strictly private ceremony for Houston, who was found dead eight days ago in her Los Angeles hotel room, aged 48.

On Saturday Hollywood stars, music greats and loved ones had gathered for an emotional farewell ceremony in the Newark baptist church where she sang as a child, which was watched worldwide.

The nearly four-hour service Saturday ended with pallbearers carrying the pop diva's coffin out of the church as a recording of Houston singing her signature hit, "I Will Always Love You," was played.

The recording was from the soundtrack of the 1992 box office smash film "The Bodyguard," in which she co-starred with Kevin Costner, one of several who paid tribute to Houston in remarks at the funeral.

"I urge us all inside and outside, across the nation and around the world, to dry our tears, suspend our sorrow and perhaps our anger just long enough, just long enough to remember the sweet miracle of Whitney," the actor said.

Although Houston's musical success took her away from New Jersey across the world, countless friends and relatives told Saturday of how she never lost sight of Newark and the community that shaped her.

Clive Davis, the legendary producer who became Houston's mentor, told the service he was spellbound when he first met her in 1983.

"You wait for a voice like that for a lifetime. You wait for a face like that, a smile like that, a presence like that, for a lifetime. And when one person embodies it all, well, it takes your breath away," Davis said.

Costner, in a frank recollection of his time spent with Houston, recalled how the singer almost missed out on her role in "The Bodyguard," on account of her skin color and lack of acting experience.

"I told everyone that I had taken notice that Whitney was black. The only problem was I thought she was perfect for what we were trying to do," he said, crediting Warner Brothers for agreeing. The movie became a international hit.

Fans were respectfully asked to stay away from the New Hope Baptist Church on Saturday, which had a capacity of 1,500, but several hundred turned up regardless.

Houston's ex-husband, soul performer Bobby Brown, with whom she had a daughter during a turbulent 15-year marriage, left the service within minutes of his arrival, saying that he and his children "were seated by security and then subsequently asked to move on three separate occasions."

"In light of the events, I gave a kiss to the casket of my ex-wife and departed as I refused to create a scene," Brown said in the statement.

Houston sold more than 170 million records during a nearly three-decade career, but she fought a long and public battle against substance abuse while trying to keep her performing talent alive.

Speculation has raged since her death that the singer may have succumbed to a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs and alcohol, though official results from her autopsy may not be made public for up to eight weeks.

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