Houston eulogist Winans also has deep gospel roots

  • Marvin L. Winans grew up in a famous musical family
  • He is pastor of a Detroit church
  • He will give the eulogy at Whitney Houston's funeral Saturday
  • He remembers Houston as "that little girl from New Jersey"

(CNN) -- At an early age, Marvin L. Winans and his nine siblings learned the music and the faith of their parents.

A son of David "Pop" Winans Sr. and Delores "Mom" Winans, Marvin showed rare music talent at age 4. By the time he was 18, Winans had preached his first sermon.

Now 53, the gospel singer and pastor will provide words of comfort and praise as the eulogist at Whitney Houston's funeral Saturday in Newark, New Jersey. The legendary pop singer died last weekend.

"In times of difficulty, you don't run from your faith, you run to it," Winans told CNN Detroit affiliate WDIV.

Both Winans and Houston grew up in the church, with a love of gospel sown deeply in their hearts. Houston's mother, Cissy, is a Grammy Award-winning performer.

Winans, pastor at Perfecting Church on Detroit's east side, officiated Houston's 1992 marriage to R&B singer Bobby Brown. After a tumultuous marriage, the pair divorced in 2007.

Despite her well-documented problems, Houston had a simplicity that many who knew her still remember, Winans said.

"If you scratched the surface it didn't take you long to find out that she still was that little girl from New Jersey," he said.

The musical Winans family group hails from Detroit.

Siblings include Benjamin "BeBe" Winans and Priscilla "CeCe" Winans, who have recorded together, and Ron Winans.

According to his bio on the Perfecting Church website, Marvin Winans has evangelized around the world.

"Wherever Pastor Winans ministers the word of God there are testimonies of healing, miracles, and lives being changed through the power of the Holy Ghost," it states.

Winans told WDIV about the last time Houston performed at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. He joined her for "I Go to the Rock."

"It is that rock of salvation, that rock of faith that we have in Jesus that sustains us in times like this," he said.


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