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Whitney Houston memorial service begins in New Jersey

February 18, 2012 |  9:44 am

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A week after Whitney Houston died in a Beverly Hills hotel room, her family and friends gathered Saturday in Newark, N.J., for an invitation-only service called a "home-going ceremony."

A number of Houston's celebrity friends were expected to perform in memory of the 48-year-old pop titan. The service, at New Hope Baptist Church, will also include her aunt, Dionne Warwick; her mentor and producer, Clive Davis; Alicia Keys; and Tyler Perry.

Houston's principal from the elementary school she attended was also invited. "How many people can say they were principal of Whitney Houston's elementary school?" Henry W. Hamilton told The Times.

FULL COVERAGE: Whitney Houston's death

Hamilton said one could never know if a student is going to achieve the kind of stardom Houston achieved in her lifetime.

"You can never tell," added Hamilton, who has been principal of the elementary school, renamed in Houston's honor in 1997, for 40 years. "As I tell my boys and girls every day, the sky is the limit."

See full coverage of the funeral at the Times' Pop & Hiss blog.


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Photo: The Rev. Jesse Jackson, left, arrives for the funeral services for Whitney Houston at the New Hope Baptist Church on Saturday in Newark, N.J. Credit: Bennett Raglin / Getty Images