According to the Associated Press, the funeral for the star who died at age 48 on Saturday of as-yet-undetermined causes, will be streamed live over the Internet. The service at Houston’s childhood house of worship, New Hope Baptist Church, will be broadcast by the wire service, which will also offer the feed to other broadcasters to air on television.
Grammy-winning gospel singer and longtime family friend Marvin Winans will provide the eulogy and legendary soul diva and Houston’s godmother, Aretha Franklin, will also reportedly take part in the service. Afterwards, Houston will be buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, New Jersey, which is where her father, John Russell Houston Jr., was buried in 2003.
New Jersey’s outspoken governor, Chris Christie, meanwhile, was forced to defend his decision to have flags in the state flown at half-staff on Saturday following complaints. “What I would say to everybody is there but for the grace of God go I,” he said, according to the AP. Christie brushed aside complaints that Houston — who struggled with drug and alcohol addiction during her life — “forfeited the good things that she did” because of those substance abuse issues.
“I am disturbed by people who believe that because her ultimate demise — and we don’t know what is the cause of her death yet — but because of her history of substance abuse that somehow she’s forfeited the good things that she did in her life,” he said. “I just reject that on a human level.”
Christie has ordered flags flown at half-staff at state government buildings on the day of the funeral amid a number of complaints registered in emails and other messages that argued that the honor was misplaced. The two main opinions were that the tribute should be reserved for members of the military, first responders and elected officials, while the other was that it was sending the wrong message to honor an avowed addict.
The governor answered his critics by saying that he was not claiming Houston was a role model, but that she deserved the tribute because of her huge cultural impact and as a famous “daughter of New Jersey.”
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