Whitney Houston's Family to Hold Private Viewing Friday

Aretha Franklin speaks out on "Today"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP

    Whitney Houston’s family will hold a private viewing of the body Friday at a New Jersey funeral home, one day before music’s biggest names will join in honoring the superstar at her childhood church. 

    Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin are slated to perform at Houston’s funeral Saturday at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where Houston sang in the choir as a child.

    Franklin told NBC’s Al Roker on “Today” Friday that performing is “not going to be easy, let me tell you that.” But she said Houston’s mother, Cissy, had requested she sing and she agreed.

    “I’m just going to try to do my best,” Franklin said.

    The Queen of Soul was a close family friend and considered Houston her goddaughter; she said in an email Thursday that Houston used to call her "Aunt Ree."

    Franklin said she first learned of her Houston’s death last Saturday at age 48 while watching TV in a hotel room in Charlotte, N.C.

    “I jumped up off the side of the bed,” she said. “I just said ‘Oh my God. This is not good.'”

    Houston, who she said she called by her family nickname Nippy, had recently looked healthy and always had a special “little twinkle in her eye,” Franklin said. 

    Houston will also be memorialized Saturday by her longtime mentor, record producer Clive Davis, and by her “Bodyguard” co-star Kevin Costner.

    Grammy-winning gospel singer and longtime family friend Marvin Winans will deliver Houston’s eulogy. His siblings, the gospel duo BeBe & CeCe Winans (also Grammy winners), could sing at the event, according to the Daily News.

    Houston's cousin Dionne Warwick was also expected to be at the funeral, along with Tyler Perry, R. Kelly and Alicia Keys, NBC News reported.

    Other celebrities who could be in attendance include: Houston's on-again off-again boyfriend Ray J and his sister Brandy, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, record exec L.A. Reid, singers Valerie Simpson, Chaka Khan and Darlene Love, the Daily News reported.

    A spokesperson for Bobby Brown, meanwhile, shot down rumors Houston's ex-husband was being shut out of her funeral, NBC News reported.

    Newark’s top cop urged Houston’s fans Thursday to “respect the wishes of the family” by allowing them to “grieve without interruption,” the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

    Police plan to block off about six square blocks that surround the church, Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio said.

    The Associated Press will be allowed a camera at Saturday's private service at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. Viewers can watch the funeral here (9 a.m. PST, noon EST).