NEWARK, NJ - Stars, family and friends gathered to mourn Whitney Houston at her funeral on Saturday, 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.
"Her legacy is her powerful music," civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson told reporters outside the red-brick church.