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Entries in Whitney Houston (15)

Tuesday
Feb212012

Fallen Soldier's Dad Burns NJ Flag to Protest Whitney Houston Tribute

Hemera/Thinkstock(WYOMING, Mich.) -- A Michigan man whose son died in Iraq burned the state flag of New Jersey after the Garden State flew its flags at half-staff in memory of Whitney Houston last week.

"They're watering down the term of what a true hero is these days," John Burri told ABC News. "I thought it was offensive to every family's fallen soldier out there, and it cheapens the meaning of lowering the flag."

The 60-year-old's decision to torch the New Jersey flag on his Wyoming, Mich., patio grill came after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ordered flags flown at half-staff to honor the singer Whitney Houston, a Garden State native who was buried in her home state on Sunday.

Burri believes flags should only be lowered for those who died serving their country.

"My intention was not to hurt anyone, especially the residents of New Jersey," he said.  "My intention was to show Gov. Christie how offensive it was."

The governor has defended his decision, calling Houston a "cultural icon."

"Her accomplishments in her life were a source of great pride for many people in this state and for the state as a whole, and so on that basis I think she's entitled to have that recognition," Christie told reporters last week.

After seeing Christie's comments on the local news, Burri said he set out on a mission to honor his son, Army Spc. Eric Burri, who died in 2005 when an explosive device detonated near the Humvee in which he was patrolling.

He bought a replica New Jersey flag, tied it to the back of his car and drove around two veteran memorials in Grand Rapids, Mich.  He then stopped at his son's burial site before going home and burning the flag.

"Best $12.95 I've ever spent," said Burri. "Sometimes, you have to do something drastic and extreme for people to listen. I just hope it made a point that maybe someone will pick this up and get a new law made for flag etiquette."

Federal law gives governors of American states power to have flags lowered for residents or state officials. There is no law requiring that person to have served in the armed forces.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb192012

Whitney Houston to be Laid to Rest

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(NEWARK, N.J.) -- *Update - Singer Whitney Houston was laid to rest on Sunday morning in a private burial service in Westfield N.J.'s Fairview Cemetery.

People lined the streets along the route from the Whigham Funeral Home to the cemetery as a gold hearse carrying the late singer's casket drove by.

She was buried next to her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003.

The burial followed a nearly four-hour "home going" ceremony Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark.

Houston's mother Cissy Houston and her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, were joined by mourners at the invitation-only service.

There were musical tributes from some of the biggest names in the industry including Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys.

At the end of the nearly four-hour long funeral, Whitney Houston's rendition of "I Will Always Love You" played, as her mother Cissy led her casket out of the church. Bobbi Kristina followed.

Just hours after the funeral of his ex-wife Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown was on the Mohegan Sun Arena stage, resplendent in white jacket, black vest, black pants and a black hat, performing with New Edition for a cheering crowd. Brown thanked the crowd for keeping his spirits up.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb182012

Family and Friends Send Whitney Houston Home

Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images(NEWARK, N.J.) -- Two of the most important women in Whitney Houston's life, her mother Cissy Houston and her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, were joined by mourners at an invitation-only "home going" ceremony at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. Saturday.

Kevin Costner remembered his The Bodyguard co-star as someone who shared the same interests and values. Both grew up in the Baptist church, a bond he said they shared over the years of their friendship.

Costner recalled Houston's nervousness when she had to do a screen test for the role of singer Rachel Marron in the movie. "The Whitney I knew was still wondering if I'm good enough. Am I pretty enough? Will they like me?" he said. "It was what made her great, and what caused her to stumble at the end."

A tearful Alicia Keyes remembered how Houston would reach out to young artists. "[She] made us feel strong and capable and loved," Keyes said before she sang "Send Me an Angel."

Houston's longtime friend and mentor, record executive Clive Davis, said a talent like Houston's was rare. "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," he said. "When one person embodies it all, it takes your breath away."

Stevie Wonder also performed a rousing tribute to the star, on whom he said he had a crush.  He performed a version of "Ribbon in the Sky" with new lyrics all about Whitney, as well as "Love's in Need of Love Today." 

Singer R. Kelly performed "I Look to You," the song he'd written for Whitney's 2009 album of the same name.  Gospel star Kim Burrell performed a version of Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come," with lyrics rewritten to reflect Whitney's life.  Gospel star Donnie McClurkin performed the song "Stand."  Fellow gospel stars BeBe and CeCe Winans also performed.

Actor/director Tyler Perry addressed the crowd, reminiscing about the first time he met Houston in Atlanta.

Aretha Franklin, who had been confirmed as a performer, said Saturday that she was not able to sing at the funeral because of a medical problem.

Singer Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston's cousin, acknowledged Franklin, who is Houston's godmother, from the pulpit and said she felt her presence in the room.  She later said in a statement, "Regretfully, I am so sorry that I was unable to be with you at Whitney's  service today.  I had every intention of being there. But unfortunately I had terrible leg spasms and locked leg muscles until 4:00AM this morning following my concert last night, which I've been having for the last few days. I feel it necessary and very important to stay off  my leg today as much as possible until concert time this evening."  She added, "My heart goes out to my dear friend Cissy, Dionne, Bobbi Kristina and the rest of the family.  May God keep them all."

Whitney's ex-husband, Bobby Brown was present at the service, but then left.  In a statement, he said, "My children and I were invited to the funeral...We were seated by security and then subsequently asked to move on three separate occasions. I fail to understand why security treated my family this way and continue to ask us and no one else to move.  Security then prevented me from attempting to see my daughter Bobbi-Kristina. 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."  He added, "This was a day to honor Whitney. I doubt Whitney would have wanted this to occur.” I will continue to pay my respects to my ex-wife the best way I know how.” 

The singer will be buried Sunday in Westfield N.J.'s Fairview Cemetery. She will be laid to rest next to her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003.

On Friday night, members of Houston's family and inner circle were seen getting out of gold limousines for a private viewing at a funeral home. Among them were Bobbi Kristina, Cissy Houston and Davis.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb172012

Whitney Houston's Funeral: Stars Expected to Attend, Speak

Kevin Mazur/AMA2009/WireImageUPDATE: Whitney Houston will be buried Sunday in Westfield, N.J.'s Fairview Cemetery, a law enforcement source told ABC News on Friday. She will be laid to rest next to her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003.

Her burial will be one day after her Saturday funeral at Newark's New Hope Baptist Church.

(NEW YORK) -- Though Whitney Houston's funeral will be a private, invite-only affair, it will reportedly feature some of the biggest celebrities the late pop icon worked with, including Kevin Costner.

Costner, Houston's Bodyguard co-star, will speak at the service held at Newark, N.J.'s New Hope Baptist Church starting at noon on Saturday, People magazine reported Thursday. Representatives for Houston and Costner did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment.

Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder will sing at the service, and Houston's record producer from the start of her career, Clive Davis, will also speak.

Houston's ex-husband, Bobby Brown, has denied reports that he was being barred from the services by Houston's family but has yet to confirm that he will be there.

He has been by the side of his daughter with Houston, Bobbi Kristina, since Sunday.  She was hospitalized for stress and anxiety after Houston's Saturday death.

One of Houston's family members told ABC News that while many people in the family don't want Brown to attend the funeral, they can't stop him because of his connection with Bobbi Kristina.

But it appears that soon after the funeral, he'll strike off on his own.  A rep for his band, New Edition, said Thursday that Brown will perform a scheduled concert at Connecticut's Mohegan Sun casino on Saturday night.

Multiple celebrities are rumored to be attending.  The Star-Ledger newspaper in New Jersey reported Thursday that Oprah Winfrey and Bill Cosby will be at the services. It was also reported that Elton John would attend but John's representatives denied it to ABC News.

The Revs. Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton are attending. Others confirmed on the guest list are Chaka Khan, Bebe and CeCe Winans, songwriter Diane Warren, pop singer Darlene Love, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Antonio "L.A." Reid, Brandy and Ray J, the singer Houston was rumored to be in a relationship with before her death.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb152012

Whitney Houston's Death Certificate Released

Kevin Mazur/AMA2009/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- Whitney Houston's official death certificate has been filed in Los Angeles County.

The immediate cause of death is listed as "deferred" and the manner of death is noted to be "pending investigation."

The document reveals that the singer will be laid to rest at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, N.J.

Her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003, was also buried at Fairview.

Houston's funeral will be held at noon on Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., where Houston honed her powerful voice in the choir.

[READ THE FULL DOCUMENT HERE]

The 48-year-old singer was found "underwater and unconscious" in the bathtub of a Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel room Saturday afternoon.

Prescription drugs were found nearby, and bottles of champagne and beer were in an adjacent room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, as seen in photos of the scene obtained by TMZ.

Amid the circumstances of her death and Houston's history of drug addiction, many have speculated that the singer died after taking a toxic mix of prescription drugs and alcohol. But the cause of death has yet to be determined.

Houston's autopsy is complete, but results of toxicology tests are not expected to be in for six to eight weeks. Investigators will be looking into doctors who wrote multiple sedative prescriptions for Houston as they try to determine the cause of the pop superstar's death.

Winter told ABC News the office is "conducting an investigation and will try to obtain medical records from her doctors."

The funeral is expected to be made available to the public via television and web streaming, according to a publicist for Houston.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb152012

Whitney Houston's Doctors to Be Investigated

Kevin Mazur/AMA2009/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Investigators will be looking into doctors who wrote multiple sedative prescriptions for Whitney Houston as they try to determine the cause of the singer's death.

Los Angeles County Coroner's Office Assistant Chief Ed Winter told ABC News the office is "conducting an investigation and will try to obtain medical records from her doctors."

The coroner said on Sunday the autopsy on Houston was complete, but results would not be finalized pending toxicology reports, which could take up to eight weeks.

On Monday, Beverly Hills police revealed that Houston was found "underwater and unconscious" in the bathtub of a Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel room Saturday afternoon.  Prescription drugs were found nearby.  Photographs published by TMZ show bottles of champagne and beer in the adjacent room and on the floor next to the tub where she died.

ABC News confirmed on Monday that Houston's aunt, Mary Jones, found her in the bathtub and tried to revive her before paramedics arrived at the scene.

The 48-year-old singer will be laid to rest after a private, invitation-only funeral service in New Jersey on Saturday that will not take place at the Prudential Center arena, the owner of the funeral home making her arrangements announced on Tuesday.

"Whitney Houston's funeral will be held at noon on Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark," Carolyn Wigham, the owner of the Wigham Funeral Home, told reporters.  New Hope is the same church where Houston honed her powerful voice in the choir.

Wigham said that Houston's mother, Cissy Houston, was at the funeral home until 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.  She "made it clear that a funeral must be inside a church," and that the Prudential Center, where members of Houston's family had said a public memorial for the singer was in the works, was not an appropriate venue.

Houston's body arrived in New Jersey via private jet and gold-colored hearse Monday night.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb142012

Contrary to Reports, Whitney Houston's Funeral to Take Place Saturday

Kevin Mazur/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Whitney Houston will be laid to rest at a private funeral in New Jersey on Saturday, not at the Prudential Center arena, as had been previously speculated.

"Whitney Houston's funeral will be held at noon on Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark," Carolyn Wigham, the owner of the Wigham Funeral Home, told reporters Tuesday.  New Hope is the same church where Houston honed her powerful voice in the choir.

Wigham said that Houston's mother, Cissy Houston, was at the funeral home until 2 a.m. Tuesday morning. She "made it clear that a funeral must be inside a church," and the Prudential Center, where a public memorial for Houston was said to be in the works, is not an appropriate venue.

On Monday night, Houston's body arrived via private jet and gold-colored hearse to her home state of New Jersey, two days after she was found dead in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.  The plane believed to be carrying the singer's body landed at Teterboro Airport, north of Newark, at 10:31 p.m. ET.

Many of Houston's friends and family have left also California for New Jersey.  Her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, and Houston’s brother-in-law and bodyguard, Ray Watson, are among the family members who are now back in the Garden State.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb142012

Whitney Houston's Body in NJ; Public Memorial 'Going to Be Big'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- With Whitney Houston’s body back in her home state of New Jersey, the 48-year-old singer's funeral is likely days away.  And like her career, it could be a sensation.

A source in the family confirmed to ABC News late Monday that plans are in place for a family service on Thursday and a public memorial at the Prudential Center -- an indoor arena in Newark that can accommodate nearly 20,000 people -- on Friday.

Asked if the memorial would be on the scale of Michael Jackson’s 2009 memorial at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, the source said, “It’s going to be big.”

Much of the Houston family has left Los Angeles for New Jersey.  Her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, and Houston’s brother-in-law and bodyguard, Ray Watson, are among the family members who are now back in the Garden State.  So is the fallen singer's body, which was transported across the country in a private jet Monday night after being released by the Los Angeles coroner.

According to ABC News’ New York affiliate WABC-TV, Houston’s funeral arrangements are expected to be handled by the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, N.J. -- the same place that handled arrangements for her father in 2003.  The home isn’t far from the New Hope Baptist Church, where Houston began her lifetime of singing in the church’s choir.

Houston’s father, John Houston, was laid to rest in a cemetery in Westfield, N.J.  Some have speculated that she will be buried alongside him.

Houston’s reps did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb132012

Whitney Houston's Body Believed to Be Headed Home to New Jersey

Sandra Rose/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The body of pop star Whitney Houston is believed to be heading to New Jersey on a private jet Monday night, ABC News has learned.

Houston's body was released by the Los Angeles coroner earlier Monday after the completion of an autopsy to discover the cause of her death.

Houston was found "underwater and unconscious" in the bathtub of a Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel room Friday night, according to Beverly Hills police.

Prescription drugs were found nearby, and bottles of champagne and beer were in the adjacent room, as seen in photos obtained by TMZ.

The circumstances and Houston's history of drug addiction have left many speculating that her death is the result of a toxic mixture of prescription drugs and alcohol.

"You can look at a body and not know (what) the cause of death is, you might have a suspicion, but the person could have suffered a heart attack or embolism,''said Ed Winter, spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner. Results of toxicology tests are not expected to be complete for six to eight weeks.

ABC News' New York affiliate WABC reported that the same Newark funeral home that handled arrangements for Houston's father in 2003 is expected to handle the singer's arrangements.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb132012

Autopsy on Whitney Houston's Body Completed

Kevin Mazur/AMA2009/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- An autopsy was completed Sunday on the body of legendary singer Whitney Houston, who was found dead in the bathtub of her hotel room the day before.  But it will be some time before we learn the cause of her death.

"There will be no cause of death at this time because it is pending toxicology and that could take up to six to eight weeks," said Ed Winter with the Los Angeles County Coroner's office

Despite reports hinting at how Houston may have died, Winter did not offer any speculatations.

"I know there's reports that she maybe was drowned or did she overdose, but no we won't make a final determination until all the tests are in," he said.

TMZ reported earlier that Houston's aides found her in the bathtub of her Beverly Hilton Hotel room with her face underwater and attempted CPR before calling hotel security.  Meanwhile, ABC News affiliate KABC-TV in Los Angeles reported that prescription pill bottles were discovered in the singer's room.

"What and if any prescription drugs or illegal drugs would be found in her system, so that's what we'll be looking for also," Winter said, referring to the toxicology tests.

He did note, however, that there were no visible signs of trauma and foul play is not suspected in her death.

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