The PEOPLE and ABC special People Icons: Gone Too Soon, which airs on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC

By Karen Mizoguchi
March 21, 2017 09:00 AM
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Credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

For BeBe Winans, the late Whitney Houston will always be family.

The gospel legend, who performed “I Miss You” with sister CeCe Winans at Houston’s February 2012 funeral, recently reflected on his close bond with the 48-year-old songstress, who died after being found submerged in the bathtub in her suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The cause of death was deemed accidental drowning, and an autopsy showed she had various drugs in her system.

In an exclusive interview for the upcoming PEOPLE and ABC special People Icons: Gone Too Soon, which airs on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC, Winans, 54, recalled, “After we met it was instant friendship. It was instant family.”

Houston was a big fan of the Winans siblings’ music and the feelings were more than mutual.

“She was fond of us and we were fond of her. We were in love with her voice. She was in love with what we did,” he explained. “So there was a mutual love for each other and respect for our artistry, as well as our hearts. And how we were raised. We were raised the same way.”

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Credit: Ron Galella/WireImage

And more than anything, love bonded Houston with Winans and his relatives.

“She made up her mind then, that any and every important step in her life — before she made any decision to get married — any other decision in her life that was vital, she would run it by us and we had to be a part of it,” he shared. “And she said, ‘Let’s make that pact.’ I mean, it was just like kids meeting kids and — and making pacts. And that’s what it was between us.”

Though they were not blood-related, Winans and Houston really became family when the late singer claimed the title of godmother to BeBe’s daughter.

“When my daughter was born Whitney declared, ‘I’m gonna be the godmother. I don’t care who you talk to before. But I’m the godmother of Maya,'” he remembered.

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“Sometimes you try to pinpoint why. Why are we so close? Why did this happen? And we just believe it was destiny. It really was,” Winans concluded. “We were supposed to be friends. We were supposed to be each other’s confidante. We were supposed to travel together. We were supposed to do these things.”

Adding, “It brought us all together. You know, Michael, and Gary, and Cissy. They became our family as well. You know, so it was just supposed to be. And I think that’s simple.”

People Icons: Gone Too Soon, which looks back on the lives of beloved stars, also features exclusive interviews with Patrick Swayze‘s widow, Lisa Niemi; Prince‘s sister, Tyka Nelson; and JFK Jr.’s friend Rose Terenzio.