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ROUGH CUT. (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY: Stars, family and friends gathered to mourn Whitney Houston at her funeral on Saturday (February 18), a week after the sudden death of the singer whose spectacular voice and best-selling albums made her one of biggest pop stars of her era.
Houston, who died in a Beverly Hills hotel room last week, recorded stirring love songs and vibrant dance tunes during a 30-year career that peaked with her 1992 signature hit "I Will Always Love You" and paved the way for a generation of singers that followed her.
Guests crowded into pews at the invitation-only service at the New Hope Baptist Church in a modest neighborhood in her native Newark, New Jersey. Houston honed her powerful voice as a young gospel singer in the church's choir with her mother, Cissy Houston, who was a backup singer for Aretha Franklin.
Houston was among the greatest singers of the 1980s and 1990s, but her personal life and marriage to singer Bobby Brown was tumultuous. She admitted to heavy use of cocaine, marijuana, alcohol and prescription pills.
Her death at age 48 shocked her family, fans and the music industry. Houston was found underwater in a hotel bathtub on the eve of the music industry's Grammy Awards. A cause of death has yet to be determined.
Soul, gospel and pop music greats sang and spoke at the service that lasted several hours. They included Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, R. Kelly and Houston's cousin Dionne Warwick. Before the service, the church choir clapped and sang uplifting gospel songs accompanied by a band.
Hollywood stars Kevin Costner and Tyler Perry spoke, as well as record producer Clive Davis, who discovered and guided Houston throughout her career.
Houston's family decided against a public memorial, as was done for pop star Michael Jackson after his 2009 death, but they agreed to allow the service to be broadcast live by television networks and on the Internet.