July 25, 2005

What in the world could have kept Whitney Houston from attending the funeral of her beloved aunt and family matriarch, Lee Warrick?
Born Arthur Lee Drinkard Warrick, Lee was the eldest sister of Whitney’s mother Cissy and mother of both Dionne Warwick and her sister, singer Dee Dee Warwick. Lee Warrick, also the leader of the family gospel group The Drinkards, passed away last week – two months before her 85th birthday.
Her service was held at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., where Cissy has been a deacon. Her daughter Whitney, however, was a no-show.
According to FoxNews.com, Whitney’s absence may be due to residual saltiness over being forced into rehab by her mother. The outlet reports that Cissy’s stand against her daughter’s self-confessed drug habit resulted in the removal of Whitney and Bobby Brown's daughter, Bobbi Kristina, from the couple's custody until Whitney sought treatment.
Lee Warrick’s service wasn’t the first funeral Whitney has chosen not to attend. Several years ago, she skipped her own father's funeral, and earlier this month, she stayed away from Luther Vandross' funeral at Riverside Church in New York. Vandross was one of the producer-writers who helped launch Whitney’s career.
Whitney’s brothers Gary and Michael served as pallbearers for Warrick. Chuck Jackson and members of the Shirelles also paid their respects at the service.
The Drinkard family tree includes not only of Dionne, Dee Dee, Whitney and Cissy, but also Dionne's sons Damon Elliott — a record producer who's worked with Beyoncé, Mya, Pink and Jessica Simpson — and David Elliott, who wrote Luther Vandross' "Here and Now" and played Sam Cooke in the movie "Ali."
*Police say Aretha Franklin’s 47-year-old son Edward walked onto the Michigan campus of Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills and took off with someone’s Hardwock mountain bike worth over $400.
A campus employee called police with a description of the suspect and officers tracked down Franklin at a nearby Mobil gas station, said Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca.
"His alleged statement to the police was that it was his bike, but we have proof that it was not his bike and we're prepared to go to trial if he wants to contest the allegations," Gorcyca said, according to ClickonDetroit.com.
With no prior convictions on his record, Franklin faces a misdemeanor charge of theft and a year in prison.
In October 2002, Franklin was a suspect in the investigation of an arson fire that engulfed his mother's house in Bloomfield Township. He was cleared of the charges after Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox found discrepancies in physical evidence and statements from witnesses.
*Meanwhile, the Queen of Soul will give two free performances during a four-night gospel revival in her native Detroit, set for Tuesday through Friday at Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ. The free shows will also feature local and national gospel groups.
The New York Daily News reports prosecutors in R. Kelly's child pornography case will back in court this week, fighting a defense attempt to have their case against him tossed. Meanwhile, the singer is back on top of the charts with 'TP.3 Reloaded'. "You can't do better than that," said Kelly's spokesman, Allan Mayer. "Robert obviously takes the charges against him very seriously, but it has had no impact, as far as we can tell, on his career." Read more
Britney Spears' hubby, Kevin Federline (above), skipped the first birthday party of son Kaleb, one of his two kids with ex-gal pal Shar Jackson. A spokeswoman for Jackson claims that little Kaleb's birthday last Wednesday "came and went without a visit, present or phone call from Kevin or Britney." Jackson, who has previously accused Federline of stiffing her on child-support payments, celebrated Kaleb's big day with her and Federline's 2-year-old daugher, Kori, and other family members, though her boyfriend, Quentin Tarantino, was not present.
THAT R&B crooner John Legend is romancing Sports Illustrated swimsuit stunner Jessica White. Good luck to them she's a sweetheart.

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