Fans of the talented singer may be surprised to learn that Whitney Houston’s grave isn’t located in a cemetery where other celebrities may be laid to rest. While Michael Jackson was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California and singer-actress Judy Garland is in Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, Houston is in a peaceful cemetery in New Jersey. She rests with her family rather than among the stars.
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Whitney Houston’s grave is located in Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, New Jersey. Her grave can be found in the east meadow section of the grounds.
Who Was Whitney Houston?
Before going into Houston’s burial and grave, we should first understand who she was. For those who may not know, Whitney Houston was – and still is – known best for her powerhouse of a singing voice and for having perfect pitch. She was only 22 years old when she released her first album, Whitney, in 1987. Three No. 1 singles came from that album and earned her a Grammy.
In the mid-to-late ‘80s, Houston’s was a familiar face on MTV, which was in its early years and mainly played white artists. For a while, she and Tina Turner were the only black women featured on the channel. Because of performers like Houston, Turner, Prince, and Michael Jackson, that started to change.
Houston’s success continued to rise into the 90s. She released more albums and also began acting in movies, most notably in her first film, The Bodyguard, which came out in 1992. The movie’s soundtrack became one of the biggest selling albums of all time, thanks to her cover of the Dolly Parton song,“I Will Always Love You.”
The year 1992 was also the year she married singer Bobby Brown. Her relationship with Brown was well-known, but not as a loving relationship. Unfortunately, the marriage was a rough road for both of them. Brown would admit later that part of the reason he married her was to help tame his own wild image. Instead, it tainted both of them and their reputations.
Who is Bobby Brown?
Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown met in 1989 at the “Soul Train Music Awards.” They became friends first and later married in 1992. Neither of their stories can be told without the other, because their relationship ended up eclipsing both of their careers.
The year they married, Houston’s star was rising due to The Bodyguard, and Brown’s started to dim. Brown was originally part of the singing group New Edition, but left in 1986 after he started a solo career.
Unfortunately, due to both of them using drugs and Brown’s history of bad behavior and domestic abuse, Brown and Houston were more often than not in the tabloids for negative reasons. The couple eventually divorced in 2007. They had one daughter, Bobbi Kristina.
How did Whitney Houston die?
Houston made a comeback in 2009, but the years of substance abuse had taken its toll. Within three years, she’d be gone. Houston was found dead in her Beverly Hills hotel room on February 11, 2012. Her death was originally considered an accidental drowning after she’d been found dead in a hotel bathtub. According to the L.A. County Coroner’s toxicology report released in March 2012, “the official cause of the pop diva’s death was “drowning and effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use.” She was 48.
As it would turn out, her daughter would die less than three and a half years later under similar circumstances. Bobbi Kristina was also found unresponsive in her bathtub at home. Her face was immersed and she had alcohol and a mix of drugs in her system, which caused pneumonia and eventually led to her death.
Whitney Houston’s Funeral
The funeral of Whitney Houston on February 19, 2012, was not considered a funeral by her family and friends, but rather her “homegoing.” A homegoing celebration is a “Christian and African American traditional funeral service” that doesn’t focus so much on the loss of a person. Instead, the homegoing is a joyous service that celebrates the loved one’s return to heaven.
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By invitation only
Attendance at Whitney Houston’s funeral was by invitation only. Had it not been, the service would have been overflowing with people – friends and fans alike. The service took place at the Houston family’s church, the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey.
Many celebrities were there, as she had many friends in the entertainment industry. She was also related to some music greats. Her mother, Cissy Houston, is a renowned gospel singer, and her cousin is Dionne Warwick. Her godmother, Aretha Franklin, was going to sing that day but was ill and could not attend.
Just a little drama
True to form, Houston’s ex-husband provided some drama prior to the ceremony. Bobby Brown was invited to attend the funeral and was told he could bring two other guests with him. Upon his arrival, though, he had brought along an entourage of nine people.
While he and his guests were not asked to leave, they were asked to shift to different seats multiple times. Space had to be made so that guests who had actually been invited could be seated. This made Brown very unhappy. He and the entourage left the church before the service began – but not before he made an unsuccessful attempt to speak to his daughter, Bobbi Kristina, who was seated in the front row with her grandmother, Cissy.
Fans pay their respects
Well before the funeral, fans brought tributes of flowers, notes, and balloons to set outside the church for Houston.
Though blockades were put up as far as six blocks away from the church, hundreds of fans were lined up to pay their respects. Houston meant so much to a mother and daughter, they traveled 500 miles from Ontario, Canada. Others came from both near and far, hoping to get a glimpse of the singer’s silver casket. Many wanted to pay their respects, even if from afar.
Whitney Houston’s Burial and Grave
Fans and media lined up along the barricades near Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, N.J., long before the funeral procession was due to arrive.
A gold hearse carried Houston to her final resting place, followed by a matching gold limousine for the family. On the side windows of the hearse were photos of Houston, and a large “W” was on the back. Along with the guests’ cars, there was at least one truck filled with flowers that would be placed on her grave after the burial.
Whitney Houston’s grave can be found in the East Ridge section of Fairview Cemetery. Her grave was originally near her father John Houston’s who died in 2003. In 2015, after her death, her daughter Bobbi Kristina was buried between them.
If you want to find a grave like Houston’s, you can always ask someone in the cemetery’s office for assistance. When visiting a grave – a famous grave or otherwise – it’s important to follow cemetery etiquette when mourners are nearby.
Houston’s headstone is in the shape of a large teardrop carved from a red granite stone. A “layered” heart fills the main portion of the gravestone, with an image of the singer’s face and cross etched inside. Below that at the bottom is a quote from her most famous song.
Whitney E. Houston
Aug. 9, 1963
Feb. 11, 2012
“I will always love you”
To the right of the headstone is a large planter made from a similar colored stone. Next to that, you will see her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown’s headstone and then her father John R. Houston’s headstone.
Bobbi Kristina’s stone is made of black and red speckled granite and a section of gray, unpolished granite with a large treble clef on it. Her headstone also features a laser-etched portrait. The gravestone of John Russell Houston, Jr. is made of black granite. It, too, has a laser-etched portrait.
Leaving a Legacy
While Whitney Houston may be gone, she has left behind the legacy of her music and talent that will never die. She will always be remembered by legions of fans worldwide.
- “Side by side forever: First look at Bobbi Kristina Brown’s tombstone which stands between graves of her mother Whitney Houston and grandfather in New Jersey cemetery.” Daily Mail, 19 June 2017, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4618540/Bobbi-Kristina-s-tombstone-seen-time.html
- “Whitney Houston’s funeral in N.J.” Houston Chronicle, 18 February 2012, www.chron.com/news/slideshow/Whitney-Houston-s-funeral-in-N-J-39512.php
- History. Fairview Cemetery, fairviewcemetery1.com/history
- “Whitney Houston: squandered talent of a record-breaking singer who had it all.” The Guardian, 12 February 2012, www.theguardian.com/music/2012/feb/12/whitney-houston-record-breaking-singer
- “‘Whitney’: 10 Things We Learned From New Whitney Houston Doc.” Rolling Stone, 7 July 2018, www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/whitney-10-things-we-learned-from-new-whitney-houston-doc-696195/
- “Bobby Brown Biography.” Biography, 24 June 2020, www.biography.com/musician/bobby-brown
- “Whitney Houston’s official cause of death: drowning, heart disease and cocaine use.” Washington Post, 22 March 2012, www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/celebritology/post/2012/03/22/gIQAXukIUS_blog.html
- “Bobbi Kristina Brown’s cause of death revealed.” CBS News, 4 March 2016, www.cbsnews.com/news/bobbi-kristina-brown-cause-of-death-revealed/