February 12th, 2012
10:17 AM ET

At church where Houston got start, congregants gather to mourn and reminisce

By the CNN Wire Staff

NEWARK, New Jersey (CNN) - As the sun rose the morning after Whitney Houston's death, congregants at the Baptist church where she began her singing career as a member of the junior gospel choir gathered to mourn, pray and share stories of the pop superstar.

The Houston family has been "inseparable" from New Hope Baptist Church, Pastor Joe A. Carter said in an interview Saturday night, and Whitney would continue to visit throughout her life.

Carter led the congregation in a prayer service for Whitney Houston on Sunday morning, "petitioning the Lord on behalf of Whitney's daughter, her mother, and the entire Houston Family," according to a statement on the church's website.

Houston, 48, was found dead Saturday by her bodyguard at a Beverly Hills, California, hotel.

Whitney Houston's mom, Cissy Houston - herself a renowned gospel singer - was director of sacred music at the church for 54 years and is still a member there.

Asked whether he had spoken to Cissy Houston, Carter said Sunday he had, and "she needs our prayers and support."

"Whitney was a mother, a daughter, a sister, and that's the focus that we want to keep in front of everyone today, to continue to lift the family up and respect this time of grief."

Those arriving for the service Sunday at the large brick church in a residential stretch of Newark were quiet and somber. Reporters were not allowed inside. One woman leaving Sunday services said the flock had prayed for Houston's family.

Church member Karen Winfield told CNN New York affiliate WABC that she has followed the Houstons’ musical careers for 60 years and has heard Whitney and Cissy Houston sing at the church.

“Her and her family have been real legends up North,” she said Sunday, referring to Whitney.  "So I'm here to support them at this time of sorrow.”

“I haven't slept - I've been up all night,” she said. “Just going over, listening to her songs and reminiscing about her life. And what's going to happen to her daughter. Her mom. Her brothers. But she's in a better place.”

Alvin Sims, associate minister at New Hope, called Houston a “powerful, powerful woman.”

“I have never heard a voice like hers, never” he told WABC. “That certainly is a gift from God.”

Whitney was born in Newark in 1963 and was soloing in the junior choir by age 11, according to the All Music Guide. "Whitney's mother and cousins nurtured her passion for gospel music since birth," according to Houston's official website. Her cousins include singers Dee Dee Warwick and Dionne Warwick, and her godmother was Aretha Franklin.

As a teenager, Houston would accompany her mother in concert.

A video posted on the Internet sharing site YouTube shows a young Houston singing the lead on the gospel song, "Have a Little Talk with Jesus," at the church.

The church's history is "deeply associated with the power of Whitney's voice and the influence that she's had, not only in this church but across the world," Carter said. "We're saddened at this loss."

One of the country's highest profile pastors, T.D. Jakes, said Sunday that Houston had completed work on a remake of the film "Sparkle," on which Jakes is a producer.

"We ask the world to join us in lifting up Whitney's family in prayer and ask God for their strength and comfort during this devastatingly difficult time," the Dallas, Texas based Jakes said in a statement. "At the apex of her career, Whitney had no peer, with a voice that shaped a generation. She has left behind a musical and film legacy that will endure."

Cissy Houston got her musical start in her family's gospel troupe and went on to record her own albums and to provide backup vocals to well-known soul and pop acts.

New Hope Baptist began operating in a Newark home in 1903, originally led by a preacher from North Carolina.

"As the world mourns the loss of one of the all-time greats, we in Newark feel an especially deep sadness," Newark Mayor Corey Booker said in a statement Saturday night. "She went from a Newark church to the global stage, but she always remained a deep part of our pride and collective heart."

"This church, the church that Whitney grew up in, is calling for prayer for her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, her mother ... and the entire Houston family and Whitney's fans," Carter said, appealing for privacy on behalf of the church and Houston's family.

–CNN's Poppy Harlow, Deb Feyerick, Laura Dolan and Dan Gilgoff contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Music • Uncategorized

soundoff (314 Responses)
  1. seo

    I appreciate your piece of work, thanks for all the great blog posts. seo http://fiverr.com/twnseobacklink

    April 24, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
  2. whirlwindshadow

    The musical number from the renowned band, AC-DC, will be played at Houston's eulogy in honor of her glorious past:

    Highway to Hell.

    February 15, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  3. @aguest9 and to all NUMBSKULLS who hate Whitney, undermining her superb talent and exemplerary contribution not only to music but also in films NOT because she turned into drug addict but just because she was a religious woman.

    "So, those few of us that don't miss junkies are intelligent, cultured and respectable."

    Quoted from Aguest9

    Junkies? REAALLYYY??!! How about this?

    "She sold more than 170 million albums, singles and videos during her career with Arista Records, according to Houston's official web site, and "I Will Always Love You" is the top-selling single of all time. She is the only musician with seven consecutive number one hits and seven consecutive multi-platinum albums."

    Quoted from the article: "Whitney Houston music sales skyrocket"


    So, who are the real junkies now?

    And yes, you may think that you are "intelligent" but WHAATTTT??!!! "cultured"?!!! "respectable"?!!!!OH! C'MON! QUIT FLATTERING yourselves! Bunch of THUGS!

    And no matter what you say, you're still IMMATERIAL, thus, IRRELEVANT!

    February 14, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • AGuest9

      "Who are the junkies now?"

      I guess that would be the fools why buy her caterwauling music and supported her drug habit. You, therefore, are complicit in her habit, and likely, her death.

      February 14, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      A junkie that sells millions of records is still a reprobate junkie.
      Just ask Kurt Cobain, Jimmy Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Bradley Nowell, Mama Cass etc. ad nauseum.

      February 14, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • AGuest9

      I'm sorry that your musical tastes are putrid. I can only help you by pointing you toward some Bach, Handel and Mozart.

      February 14, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • hippypoet

      wow... your bit obsessed! time to move on, she was a singer/songwriter who was also a junkie – in that aspect, she is one of many and therefore, not that special...plus she is dead, now she is one of billions – even less special!

      February 14, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Atheism is hostile to all living thing including atheists themselves. They are DESPERATE and PATHETIC creatures stealing handles just tom further their cause!

      Yes! a junkie that sells millions even to her death. Toppling the one who just recently raked 6 grammys.

      How about you Aguest9? What do you sell? JUNK FOODS? That's perfect! REAL JUNKIES selling JUNKFOODS.

      February 14, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • AGuest9

      I don't sell anything. I haven't worked in retail since I put myself through my undergrad work, many years ago.

      February 14, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • AGuest9

      Doc Vestibule is correct, and the only one in that list worth listening to at all is Hendrix, even though much of his work was such a mess, he had some great songs. Ironically, my favorite is "All Along The Watertower". LOL!

      February 14, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • AGuest9

      Doc Vestibule is correct, and the only one in that list worth listening to at all is Hendrix, even though much of his work was such a mess, he had some great songs. Ironically, my favorite is "All Along The Watchtower". LOL!

      February 14, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • 6seAtug

      He who is not taking law has nothing to say when it comes to the subject of law.

      To good to know that your undergrad work has given you the right to say on everything and to bash someone who has achieved and contributed a lot in the field that you don't have an inch of know how.

      February 14, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • AGuest9

      @6seAtug – you pretend to "know" that I am not a composer, how?

      February 14, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  4. Undivided Heart

    Lesson: Use the talents that God gave you to honor God. If singing is your gift use it to bring glory to God not yourself. Don't use church as just a stepping stone to lay up for yourself treasure and fame on earth. Have an undivided heart. With that said, let us pray to God that her daughter Bobbi Kristina will grow stronger from this tragedy and not go down the same or another slippery slope.

    February 14, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • Nay

      Well said! You must surrender your gifts to the will of God, if anything she has encouraged me to use my gifts! Only to the Glory of God. I refuse to sell out! My treasure is where my heart is. with God! By God I mean the only true and wise God, Jesus Christ!

      February 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  5. Esther


    February 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  6. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Betcha HeavenSent has a vocal wobble a mile wide and couldn't manage to sing on pitch if Jesus demanded it. Her choir director likely requested she'd serve the church best if she organized the choral library, instead of braying in the loft.

    February 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      Since you seem to like Whitney Houston .. I decided I like you better. So I will let you in on a little secret known by very few. But it was known by Houston and Peggy Lee and Ella Mae Morse and Eric Clapton .. and of course BB King and Muddy Waters ... here it is:
      Straight 12 bar

      1-1-1-1 = 4 bars ex G G G G
      4-4-1-1 =4 bars C7-C7-G-G
      5-4-1-1 = 4 bars D7-C7-G-G
      12 bars

      quick change
      1-4-1-1- = 4 bars G-C7-G-G7
      4-4-1-1 = 4 bars C7-C7-G-G
      5-4-1-1 = 4 bars D7-C7-G-G

      Chicago quick change … with T-turn around
      1-4-1-1- = 4 bars G-C7-G-G7
      4-4-1-1 = 4 bars C7-C7-G-G
      5-4-T-T = 4 bars D7-C7-[Gdim-Dm7] [G+ G7]

      50’s Rock blues
      C6-F9-C6-[C13 / C9 /] = 4
      F9-F9-[C6 /-Dm7 /] [Em7-Ebm7] = 4
      Dm7- G7- [C6 / C#dim /][Dm7 / -G+/] =4

      Now .. if you know this little secret you can rock and roll and save your soul. You can rock the house. You get it down. You and gruuuuuve it .. mooove it.. shake it and still not break it. You can use a wah-wah peddle ti the metal and the cats go over the wall ...

      February 13, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      two more things a cat ought to know ... 2-5-1 (ii-V-i) and 1-6-2-6 two simple things

      2-5-1 is a jazzed 1-4-5 where the 4 chord gets changed to a 6th and that makes it a relative minored 2 chord... wah lah that is a 2-5-1 progressions.. whammo you are in the gruuve.

      1-6-2-5 is the 50's prograssion ..and du-op .. hundreds of du op ..

      Dat's it .. do dat in 4/4/ empfah-sis on the second beat .. and it does not matter too much what you are plying... just do it.

      February 13, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Please, tell it to someone who needs help with the twelve-bar blues, honey.

      February 13, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      That's more than the 12 bar blues. And whether you can sing or not .. you can make it happen. That is Chicago right there .. That's the 30's and 40'sd and 50's too. Not many ever get that .. and I gave it to you. .. and I got it from one guy .. that's how it gets p.a.s.s..e.d down. You cannotg go and buy it

      February 13, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Of course you can buy it. It's in every guitar instruction book written and any guitar player or musician already knows those progressions.

      And they didn't originate with the artists you mentioned. They originated long before, with the earliest blues and jazz artists of the early 20th century, and those folks got their stuff from the spirituals of slaves.

      February 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, proven to be a fraud.

      February 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things

      February 13, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Lying is unethical. You are weak-willed, obviously.

      February 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • just sayin

      Absolute Truth and proofs given, did you miss them?

      February 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Can't miss something that wasn't there, you moronic dolt.

      February 13, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • just sayin

      As i recall after explaining it to you several times it was suggested you either educate yourself or get someone who could help you understand. Since you have not done anything to help yourself, why should anyone else. I cannot be responsible for your lack of mental capacity. For whatever reason this world will continue to have those who can't keep up, I understand your frustration but unfortunately can't help you. You do have my sympathy Tom, Tom.

      February 13, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, crack monkey, here you are again! I knew you had no self-discipline. You have no will-power. You can't bear to be wrong, can you? You'll answer every post unless you can't come up with some nonsense to barf on these boards.

      You haven't proven a thing. You know it. I know it. Everyone who reads your crap knows it.

      You're a fraud.

      February 13, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'll bet the preacher at just lyin's church found a way to get it out of the choir and into the nursery where that major wobble can't be heard by anyone but kids. Just lyon' probably thinks it has the voice of an angel and that its musical talent is simply undiscovered. Betcha it sings into its hairbrush in front of its little tiny bathroom mirror in the apartment it has in that assisted living spot that smells like dirty diapers.

      February 13, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Tom Piper'Sr.

      It's too late for my son to get an education. He is 53 years old now, 360lbs at scale while only stands at 4'11". And most of all, never been laid in more than a quarter of century.

      February 14, 2012 at 10:28 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.