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Friday, February 17, 2012

Whitney Houston's Wake Schedule for This Evening

Whitney Houston, FuneralWhitney Houston's funeral isn't taking place until tomorrow, but some of her family and close friends are choosing to pay their initial respects to the singer tonight, away from the glare of the cameras.

Preparations have been underway all day at both the Whigham Funeral Home and Newark's New Hope Baptist Church not only for tomorrow's noontime service, which will be streamed live on E! Online, but for a wake set to take place in roughly an hour.

Hundreds of mourners, fans and, yes, media, lined the streets near both locations Friday. Also sprouting up outside the church and funeral home: makeshift, ever-growing shrines with cards, flowers, balloons, photos and handwritten prayers.

Newark police have been trying all day to keep the crowd at bay, arriving in a mobile unit barricading the block in front of the funeral home, in advance of the private viewing, which mother Cissy, daughter Bobbi Kristina and various other family members and close friends are expected to attend.

At the back of the facility, the entrances were covered with a white tent and curtains to provide added privacy. Cops even wrapped the area surrounding the funeral home in tape to prevent the crowd from overwhelming the mourners.

A Whigham worker told E! News that the viewing is likely to begin sometime around 5 p.m. ET. A police officer on the scene said that "a lot" of mourners were expected, arriving in up to a dozen vehicles.

Earlier today, E! News spotted a florist van arriving, with carefully arranged bunches of white and yellow roses getting delivered.

Meawnhile, details continue to emerge about tomorrow's funeral. BeBe and CeCe Winans are set to sing at the funeral, which will be officiated by their brother Marvin.

Among the confirmed attendees: Houston cousin Dionne Warwick,  Forest WhitakerChaka KhanRay JAretha FranklinKim BurrellKevin CostnerClive DavisStevie WonderRickey Minor, Alicia Keys and Bishop T.D. Jakesone of the producers of her final film, Sparkle.

Whitney Houston, FuneralAlthough Oprah Winfrey was invited, it's unclear if she'll attend. There has been speculationg that she'll accompany good friend Tyler Perry, who is attending, to the service (and who provided the private plane to transport Houston's body from Los Angeles to New Jersey). Though Mel Gibson was reportedly invited to the funeral, he is not expected to be there.

And despite rumors to the contrary, Elton JohnBeyoncĂ© and Diana Ross will not be attending, E! News has learned.
Due to a prior commitment, Dolly Parton will also not be in attendance, though she released a new statement in tribute to the singer:

"My heart is with Whitney and her family as they lay her to rest. I did not know Whitney nor any of her family personally; but she will always be a part of my heart and I will always be grateful for her awesome performance and success with our song 'I Will Always Love You.'
"Rest in peace, Whitney."

Following Saturday's funeral at the New Hope Baptist Church, Houston will be interred on Sunday, laid to rest alongside her father at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, N.J. E!Online

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