What is the icon of your hometown

"We will always love you, Whitney"

The singer's family has chosen her home parish for the funeral service. In the "New Hope" Baptist Church in Newark near New York they say goodbye to Whitney Houston. The police cordoned off a large area around the church, and officers on horses patrolled the street.

Whitney Houston's coffin is carried to church

"This is not a concert, it is a memorial service," said radio host and Houston friend Michael Eric Dyson of the cordon. "It's not disrespect to the fans, but we want to see Whitney goodbye in a private ceremony with all dignity." The funeral was broadcast live on television.

Soul legend Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, R. Kelly and actor Kevin Costner, who played with Houston in "Bodyguard", were among the mourners. Costner gave one of the most moving speeches. Bobby Brown, Houston's controversial ex-husband, left the house of worship after a few minutes because he felt he was being treated badly by the security staff. A choir had previously received the mourners with gospel songs. 1500 guests came.

Balloons, candles and flowers

In front of the church there was a flashing illuminated sign that reminded of the singer who died on February 11th. It read "Whitney Houston 1963-2012" and "We will always love you" based on Houston's world hit "I will always love you". Numerous condolence cards were attached to the bars of the red brick church, many with heart-shaped balloons. Burning candles, flowers and stuffed bears stood on the floor.

For safety reasons, fans of the pop star were asked to stay home and not come to church. Some still tried to get closer to the location of the funeral service. Journalists also had to wait some distance behind metal barriers.

In a church in New York's industrial suburbs, Houston had performed in the church choir as a young girl more than 30 years ago. She died last Saturday in her hotel room in Beverly Hills, near Los Angeles. Employees found the 48-year-old lifeless in the bathtub. The exact cause of death is still unclear.

This Sunday, Houston is to be buried next to her father in the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, also in the US state of New Jersey, next to her father.

nm / ml (dpa, afp, dapd)