February 12, 2012

THE CHARISMA OF Whitney Houston

Fans and admirers gathered on Sunday to celebrate the life of Whitney Houston and mourn her passing a day after she died in a Beverly Hills hotel at the New Jersey church where her singing career first took flight. Cards and flowers were tied to the railings of the New Hope Baptist Church, and congregants hugged and cried at the entrance. It was in this large but modest looking, red-brick house of worship on a quiet backstreet near downtown Newark where Houston's career began as a soloist in a gospel choir in the 1970s.

"Newark loves you and will always love you. We are all heartbroken," said Jacqueline Kimble, 45, who has been coming to the church all her life and remembers Houston there. "She was our jewel. This is a sad day for Newark and the whole world."

"This is a very sad day," said Cynthia Williams, 47, who attended early morning worship at New Hope, held in memory of Houston. "It is a great loss to Newark."