Whitney Houston's untimely death came as a shock — though not a surprise — to her friends, family and fans across the world.
Though initial plans for a large-scale public memorial service at the Prudential Center would have given fans an outlet to mourn and eulogize, that idea has been scrapped in favor of an intimate ceremony. Marvin L. Winans, a longtime friend of the Houston family, told CNN that the grieving family didn't "want to have a parade."
A private, invitation-only service will be held for Houston on Saturday at noon at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., where Houston got her start and where her mother, Cissy, is still a member.
Aretha Franklin, living soul legend and Houston's godmother, has been asked to perform at the funeral.
The 1,500-person guest list — which also includes "Queen of Funk" Chaka Khan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Ray J and Brandy — is exclusive, but the event will be available to broadcasters via satellite and the Associated Press will stream the service live online so Houston's fans can watch the eulogy and remember the singer from the comfort of their own homes.
In honor of Houston's death, New Jersey governor Chris Christie will lower the flags in front of state buildings to half-staff on Saturday. He has defended his decision in spite of backlash from critics who claim that the move disparages those in the armed services.
"I believe that she deserves to be honored for that cultural impact and contribution that she made as a daughter of New Jersey," Christie said.
Will you watch Houston's funeral?