The funeral for Whitney Houston has commenced at noon in New Jersey's New Hope Baptist Church, which the singer used to attend as a child. The streets around the church were sealed off and a large police presence was seen at and around the venue from early morning.
Relatives and friends have gathered at the church for the private event, however, Aretha Franklin, who had been confirmed to attend was a no show, with reports saying that she was too ill to make the funeral.
Even though fans were told to stay away from the funeral and to watch the service on TV or online via live streams, many still turned up but were left disappointed at being kept back from the church.
One mother, Ms. Stubbs has said her 13-year-old daughter, Whitney Elizabeth, was named after the singer, according to The NY Times. She reported her disappointment at not being able to get near to the funeral, "I kind of feel like, left out."
At about 9.30 a.m. a gold hearse was seen making its way to the church with a large letter "W" posted on the window. The hearse was followed by three gold limousines, and escorted by a number of police motorcycles.
As the hearse made its way slowly through the streets, fans cheered and shouted blessings for the fallen singer.
In front of New Hope Baptist Church an illuminated sign was also set up with a message flashing, "Whitney Houston. We Will Always Love You," in reference to one of the singer's most popular number 1 hits.
New Hope was chosen as the venue for Houston's funeral due to her long affiliation with the church. Houston used to sing solo for services at the church even at the age of eleven, and her gospel singer mother, Cissy Houston, was previously the church's choir leader.
The Associated Press have the only cameras permitted at the event, and will be streaming the funeral live online on Livestream.