World: Fans gather in New Jersey for funeral of Whitney Houston

POCKETS of fans are gathering as close as they can get to the New Jersey church where Whitney Houston’s funeral will be held later today.

Police in Newark have blocked off streets in every direction surrounding the New Hope Baptist Church.

Outside that perimeter, mourners already gathered early today included fans who have travelled from as far as Washington and Miami. Some other fans have set up stalls to sell silk-screened T-shirts with Houston’s image on and her CDs.

Houston, 48, died last Saturday. She was found underwater in a bath by a member of her staff at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

About 1,500 guests are expected to attend today’s private funeral service, including Aretha Franklin, Clive Davis and Stevie Wonder.

After the funeral, Houston is scheduled to be buried beside her father, John Russell Houston, at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, near where she grew up.