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Whitney Houston’s body has been returned to her family in New Jersey as they discuss plans to stage a large-scale funeral.

Fans cheered as a gold hearse carrying the singer’s body arrived at the funeral home in her home town of Newark.

Reports suggest the Whitney Houston’s family will hold a wake on Thursday and a funeral on Friday at Newark’s Prudential

Centre – an 18,000-seat venue, which usually hosts college and sporting events.

However, a New Jersey Devils game is scheduled for the Friday, which may pose logistical challenges.

Already a large image of Houston, 48, has been projected on an electronic board outside the arena.

Houston was found dead in a bath in her room at the Beverly Hills Hotel, California, on Saturday.

She was posed to appear at a pre-Grammy Awards gala event that evening.

Funeral arrangements are said to fall on Newark’s Whigham Funeral Home, which held the funeral of Houston’s father, John in 2003.

Houston fans have already gathered at the home, playing her songs and lighting candles.

Houston was born in Newark and was raised in nearby East Orange. She began singing as a child at Newark's New Hope Baptist

Church, where her mother, Grammy-winning gospel singer Cissy Houston, led the music programme for many years. Her cousin singer Dionne Warwick also sang in its choir.

Yesterday mourners left flowers, balloons and candles for Houston at the wrought-iron fence around the tall brick church, which sits near the edge of an abandoned housing project near the train line leading to New York City.

"She was an inspiration to everybody,'' said Gregory Hanks, a 26-year-old actor who grew up in the area.

Houston apparently died from drowning in the hotel bath, and prescription drugs were found in her suite.

In a news conference on Monday, Beverly Hills police spokesman Lt Mark Rosen said fire department officials were told the singer was found unresponsive on Saturday morning.

"Ms Houston was pulled from the tub by members of her staff and hotel security was promptly notified," he said.

"First aid and CPR measures were performed in an attempt to revive her," he said, adding that after unsuccessful attempts,

Houston was pronounced dead at 15:55 local time (23:55 GMT)”

An autopsy was carried out on Sunday and there were no indications of foul play, however the cause of her death will not be confirmed for several weeks, when the coroner's office completes toxicology tests.

Houston was one of the world's best-selling artists from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, selling 170 million records worldwide.

But her later career was overshadowed by drug use and a turbulent marriage to singer Bobby Brown.

The singer had struggled for years with cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her behaviour had become erratic.





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Whitney Houston dead: 'Arena funeral planned' as body arrives home
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