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Whitney Houston's Casket Carried Out to "I Will Always Love You"

USMagazine, Saturday, February 18, 2012, 1:24pm (PST)

Whitney Houston's 1992 classic rendition of "I Will Always Love You" touched many souls, which makes it the appropriate closing song to see her off.

As the pallbearers gathered to carry the gleaming silver casket containing the late singer's body out of the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, NJ on Saturday, the famous opening chords of Houston's most famous ballad began to ring out inside the venue that sat 1,500.

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Houston's mother Cissy followed directly behind her daughter's casket while the first three rows of guests proceeded her, including Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Kevin Costner, Alicia Keys, Reverend Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton along with Houston's close family and friends.

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The event's program referred to the late star's funeral as a "going home" ceremony. Beginning at 12/11c, the services, which were live broadcast by the Associated Press, wrapped about three and a half hours later.

Narada Michael Walden, who produced Houston's hit "How Will I Know," described the ceremony to Us Weekly as, "soulful, tearful and happy at the same time. A real celebration of her life. She's safe in the lord's hands now."

VIDEO: Whitney's ups and downs

Houston will be laid to rest during a private burial at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, NJ, where she will be buried next to her father, John Houston.

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