New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he will order flags flown at half-staff at state government buildings Saturday in memory of Whitney Houston.

The governor says Houston was a "cultural icon" who belongs in the same category in New Jersey music history as Frank Sinatra, Count Basie and Bruce Springsteen. He says her accomplishments were "a great source of pride for the people of the state."

Whitney Houston's family is asking that any donations in her memory be sent to the arts-focused public school in East Orange that she attended as a child and that is now named after her.

In lieu of flowers, they say mourners should donate to the Whitney Houston Academy of Creative and Performing Arts in East Orange. Houston attended the school as a girl when it was named the Franklin School. She was a regular visitor for many years afterward.



The owner of the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark says Houston's funeral will be held at noon at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. The funeral home said that no wake would be held and that there would be no public memorial at Newark's Prudential Center, the sports arena that the family had discussed as a possible venue.

The funeral service will be by invitation only, Carolyn Whigham said, reflecting the family's desire to keep the memorial more personal. "They have shared her for 30 some years with the city, with the state, with the world. This is their time now for their farewell," she said. "The family thanks all the fans, the friends and the media, but this time is their private time," she said.

Whigham also said the family had completed arrangements and that no details would be released. Cameras will not be allowed in the church.

However, the New York Daily News reports the funeral will be a "strong musical celebration of her life" according to New Baptist Church Pastor Joe Carter. While not naming names, it is expected that  singer Kelly Price, who shared the stage with Whitney on her last ever performance, and Jennifer Hudson are expected to attend. The Rev. Marvin Winans, the Detroit pastor who married Houston to Bobby Brown, will deliver the eulogy.

Houston began singing as a child at New Hope Baptist Church, where her mother, Grammy-winning gospel singer Cissy Houston, led the music program for many years. Her cousin singer Dionne Warwick also sang in its choir.


Gospel singer Marvin Winans has been chosen to deliver the eulogy for singer and longtime friend Whitney Houston at her funeral Saturday in New Jersey.

Marvin Winans is a Grammy Award-winning member of one of gospel music's first families. In his role as a pastor he married Houston and Bobby Brown in 1992.

Winans son, Marvin Jr., and Marvin Winans' office at Perfecting Faith Church in Detroit confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday he will eulogize Houston at the private funeral at Newark's New Hope Baptist Church.

The Winans and Houston families have been friends for years. Houston performed with Marvin Winans' sisters CeCe and BeBe.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Monday night a hearse under heavy police escort arrived at Whigham carrying Houston's body after a flight from California on board Tyler Perry's private jet landed at Teterboro around 10:30PM.


TMZ reports that the hotel room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel is already housing guests again Desk clerks say they have had many requests for reservations but the $375 per night room is booked for the "forseeable future."



TMZ reports that the family is divided over where Houston should be buried. Whitney's mother Cissy and aunt want her to be buried in Atlanta because they believe that is where the singer was "happiest." The rest of the family wants her to be laid to rest in her birthplace of Newark.

City officials were awaiting the family's arrival to complete the funeral planning.

Houston was born in Newark and was raised in nearby East Orange.


Houston died Saturday at a hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 48. Officials say she was underwater and apparently unconscious when she was pulled from a bathtub.

After an autopsy Sunday, authorities said there were no indications of foul play and no obvious signs of trauma on Houston. It could be weeks, however, before the coroner's office completes toxicology tests to establish the cause of death.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)