- (Photo: Reuters/Adam Hunger)
Whitney Houston's funeral will be held in New Jersey, officials have confirmed.
Hope Baptist Church in New Jersey will host the funeral sometime this week. Houston grew up in New Jersey and sang in the Hope Baptist Church choir before becoming an international star.
"We thank God for the gift of her unique voice. 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," Pastor Joe Carter told the congregation of New Hope.
Houston was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey before moving to East Orange, New Jersey in 1967. She learned to play piano and sing in the choir at New Hope Baptist Church. According to one report, her first solo was "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah."
Her mother, Cissy Houston, was also a gospel singer and in charge of the choir at New Hope Baptist.
Gospel music ran in Houston's family: cousins Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick, as well as godmother Aretha Franklin, all performed in the gospel genre. Houston had last visited New Hope just last year for the funeral of ex-husband Bobby Brown's mother.
NBC has reported that Houston's body may be flown back to Newark as early as Monday evening. Because there is no foul play suspected, and an autopsy has already been performed, her body is already being released back to the family.