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Whitney Houston funeral: Family and friends gather for last goodbye

To the world, Whitney Houston was the pop queen with the perfect voice, the dazzling diva with regal beauty. Those closest to her will gather Saturday at a private funeral to say goodbye.

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Candles burn at a memorial to Whitney Houston outside New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., early Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012. Whitney Houston's funeral will take place later Saturday at the church where she sang in the choir as a girl.

Mel Evans/AP

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To the world, Whitney Houston was the pop queen with the perfect voice, the dazzling diva with regal beauty, a troubled superstar suffering from addiction and, finally, another victim of the dark side of fame.

To her family and friends, she was just "Nippy." A nickname given to Houston when she was a child, it stuck with her through adulthood and, later, would become the name of one of her companies. To them, she was a sister, a friend, a daughter, and a mother.

While the world remembers Houston from afar, those closest to her will gather Saturday at a private funeral to say goodbye. They come together at New Hope Baptist Church, where Houston wowed the congregation with her powerful voice even as a young girl.

IN PICTURES: Whitney Houston, in memoriam

The service takes place exactly one week after the 48-year-old Houston – one of music's all-time biggest stars – was found dead in a Beverly Hills hotel in California. A cause of death has yet to be determined.

Close family friend Aretha Franklin, whom Houston lovingly called "Aunt Ree," is expected to sing at the service, as is Stevie Wonder and gospel star CeCe Winans. Music mogul Clive Davis, who launched and shepherded her career throughout the decades, may speak, along with Kevin Costner, her co-star in the blockbuster film "The Bodyguard."

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