UPDATE (4:12 p.m.): Whitney Houston’s “Going Home” funeral service this afternoon, held at Newark, NJ’s New Hope Baptist Church, was a largely celebratory affair that lasted nearly four hours. There were a number of emotion-soaked moments — Alicia Keys’ performance, Kevin Costner’s eulogy — but the crowd at today’s service seemed to want to concentrate more on celebrating Whitney’s tremendous life than mourning her untimely loss one week ago today at the age of 48. When Whitney’s casket was carried out of the church today, “I Will Always Love You” rang out.
The day’s most controversial moment came 24 minutes into the service, which began at noon EST, when ABC News reported that Houston’s ex-husband, Bobby Brown, left the funeral and church unexpectedly. TMZ is reporting that Brown was asked to leave by Houston’s family due to a seating dispute; Bobby wanted to bring nine people into the service with him, but his invitation was only good for two people.
In an unrelated incident, Aretha Franklin did not perform today as originally expected;
ORIGINAL STORY (FILED AT 11 A.M. EST): Whitney Houston‘s funeral is being held at noon today in Houston’s hometown of Newark, New Jersey. The services are invitation-only, but will be broadcast on a number of television networks (including BET) and livestreamed on the internet by the Associated Press.
Among those expected to be in attendance today are Houston’s ex-husband, Bobby Brown, her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, her cousin Dionne Warwick, Ray J, Brandy, Alicia Keys, Tyler Perry, and her co-star in The Bodyguard, Kevin Costner.
Houston’s godmother, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder are expected to sing tributes, and her longtime mentor and producer, Clive Davis, will speak as well.
Stay tuned to VH1 Tuner today for updates and photographs as they become available.
[Photos: Getty Images]