Flags across New Jersey will be lowered to half staff in honor of Whitney Houston as her family begins to gather in Newark for her funeral at the New Hope Baptist Church.

Governor Chris Christie, citing her musical success in issuing the Executive Order, said of the honor traditionally reserved for the military and police, "Some of them are political, some of them are military, some of them are police and firefighters and some are cultural and I think all of those contributions, when done at their best are significant."

Whitney Houston to be buried next to father

Whitney Houston's final resting place will be next to her father, John Russell Houston Jr.

Houston will be laid to rest at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield after funeral services this weekend, a source close to the family confirmed. Houston's father was buried there in 2003.

Aretha Franklin: Shocked by Houston's death

Aretha Franklin says she believed Whitney Houston had overcome her demons and was primed for a comeback, which made learning of the troubled singer's death all the more shocking.

Interviewed on NBC's "Today" show Friday, Franklin said she was watching TV in her hotel room in Charlotte, N.C., when she learned of Whitney's death in a hotel suite across the country in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Her reaction to the news: "What?! This could not be!"

Franklin said fans should remember Houston for her artistry, and not focus on the challenges she faced with substance abuse.

Aretha, Stevie Wonder to sing at Houston's funeral

Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder will sing at the private funeral of Whitney Houston on Saturday in what promises to be a very musical service.

Family and close friends are expected to have a private viewing at the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark today.

Publicist Kristen Foster also confirms that invitations went out to Houston's ex-husband, Bobby Brown; her co-star in "The Bodyguard," Kevin Costner; and Oprah Winfrey. Houston's longtime musical mentor, Clive Davis, will speak at the funeral. The eulogy will be given by gospel singer and longtime family friend Marvin Winans.

Others who will be part of the program include Donnie McClurkin, Tyler Perry, Kim Burrell, Rickey Minor, Alicia Keys, Dionne Warwick and Cece Winans, Foster said.

The Queen of Soul was a close family friend and considered Houston her goddaughter; she said in an email Thursday that Houston used to call her "Aunt Ree."

Organizers were getting the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark ready Thursday for the funeral. Drums and speakers, which were to be part of the musical service, were in the aisles.

Fans without invitations will be kept far away. Newark police say streets will be shut down for six square blocks around the church. But on Thursday, there were several dozen fans outside, contributing to and taking pictures of the makeshift memorial to the superstar outside the church. Media were also outside of the venue.


Whitney Houston's last 3 months of life were "truly tragic" according to Radar Online. She drank lots of alcohol, took lots of pills and was partying heavily.

The night of January 2 sources says she got "buck wild"  at the Playhouse nightclub. "She drank cognac and champagne and seemed completely out of it from the moment she arrived until the moment she left, at 2:30 a.m.," the source said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.