BeBe and CeCe Winans
BeBe and CeCe Winans
Official Biography (courtesy of BeBe and CeCe Winans)
Amidst many years of anticipation, BeBe & CeCe Winans have heard the cries from their fans to return...together. After 15 years, the wait is over. October will be ushered in with a new BeBe & CeCe project - Still, featuring the chart-topping single, "Close to you."
This brother-sister duo carries a great lineage as members of the Gospel dynasty, The Winans. Although they have had individual success, nothing compares to the magic that is sparked by their musical union. Since their last collaborative project, Relationships (1994), the multiple Grammy, Dove and Stellar-award winners continued to climb the charts individually.
After producing six studio-recorded projects, their accomplishments listed more than five million records worldwide, five Grammy Awards, eight Dove Awards, two NAACP Image Awards, A Soul Train Music Award and more than 12 Stellar Awards. Later, BeBe & CeCe ventured out on their own, earning more awards and making additional marks.
CeCe earned several Grammys, released eight CDs and became the first African-American woman to receive a Dove Award for best female vocalist. BeBe earned numerous awards, penned hits for other artists and released six solo projects. He also honed his acting skills, co-starring in productions such as the Broadway play, The Color Purple, in which he played Harpo and served as one of the judges of BET's Sunday Best for the 2009 season. But nothing compares to the BeBe & CeCe franchise. Their joint releases moved them to the top of the charts with a Grammy in 1987 for the self-titled project.
The 1991 release of Different Lifestyles earned them #1 status at the top of the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop chart, making them only the second Gospel act to claim this position (the first was Aretha Franklin's Amazing Grace in 1972).
Still returns with BeBe & CeCe at their best, immersed in their magical harmonies. Their songs offer a double entendre, making their music palatable to both Gospel and R&B radio formats. In addition, it offers a familiar, yet timeless formula which will undoubtedly earn them the same rave reviews fans are sharing after hearing "Close to you" on the radio and via various social websites.
BeBe describes the new project as a continuation of their evolving life and all of its accompanying elements. "Still BeBe & CeCe, still what we believe, still about God's love, still about the music and not the madness," he said. "It really says it all in that one word - still."
In the midst of this evolution, the brother-sister team suffered two tremendous losses - brother, Ronald in 2005 and their patriarch, David "Pop" in 2009. These trials are some of the contributing factors to the strengthening of their faith and testimonials through self-expression that have inspired some of BeBe's songwriting. "Life is altered when you lose someone you love," he said. "And even in that (loss), you can still (see the blessings of) a full life.
CeCe recalls, gleefully, the reaction from Pop after learning of the reunion. "He heard a song BeBe wrote called "We Need One Another Right Now," she said. "And as a father, it was his greatest prayer for our family, to always be there for each other." Both BeBe & CeCe agree, "our father was our greatest fan and he's looking down on us from heaven rejoicing."
The title track "Still" is a special song to both Bebe & Cece as the sentiment it magnifies is simple yet passionate. "It grasps a cue of songs from our past as it becomes the course and reminds people of the journey and path we've traveled through," Bebe explains. Cece concurs "what you once took for granted we now know and appreciate a lot more. We understand that God is still good. When you have some more experiences behind you and you're still smiling, you still have a song to sing, you're more appreciative and grateful."
Bebe penned their first single "Close To You" many years before knowing whether he and his sister would reunite in song again. Saving it for just such an occasion, long time Bebe & Cece producer Keith Thomas, was the perfect architect to navigate the mid tempo ballad. Introduced to the world during the finale of the BET gospel competition Sunday's Best where Bebe serves as judge, Cece loves the double meaning of the song's message. "Bebe is a romantic writer and people don't equate that with gospel music. When you have an intimate relationship with the Father it's sweet, it's pure. It's the ultimate love relationship. Love asks how can I serve you and how can I bless you while stating how much I need you. The safest place for me is being close to Him and even in the natural, it's a safe place being with my brother."
"Never Thought" is one of Bebe's favorites, professing his own testimony in this song, "I've come back to a place of happiness because in those life whirlwinds, I didn't know I could return to a place of happiness." Bebe co-wrote the melodic tune with new collaborator, Peter Zizzo, whom he describes as "talented with a heart of gold." Cece attributes the contagious messaging in the lyrics as a place of healing. "There's a lot of people who are sad and hurting and it's like a breath of fresh air. You have to choose to be happy, and if you decree that you are happy, happiness will follow. We're telling our testimony, and we want it to be contagious and for people to be lifted up."
Keith Thomas also produced, as Bebe wrote the anthemic "Grace." The soft piano open meets the subtle guitar strums and penetrating percussion, while Bebe & Cece harmonize in what feels like a whisper. As they speak so pleasingly simply about God's undeserved favor, forgiveness, kindness and mercy, Cece sums it up in a few short words, "anyone who understands grace is grateful. It's a powerful song of redemption."
It was a family affair when older brother Marvin joined Bebe & Cece on the uptempo "Things." Bebe co-wrote the contagious record with Peter Zizzo, speaking of "what's the fuss about things, show me what love can bring." Bebe was intrigued when traveling overseas, observing other cultures in comparing them with American culture. "I see how happy people are with less, it triggers a question about things," as Cece further explores, "you learn that you can have all the precious things and not have peace, happiness and joy. It's a strong message people need to hear because only what you build for God will last and everything else passes by."
Always appreciative of family, Bebe & Cece are fortunate to not only have their brother Marvin join in on the fun as Bebe describes, but nephew Mario produced the harmonious global message "Let It Be" featuring Mary Mary and Cece's son Alvin III, wrote the Mervyn Warren produced "Changed My World." For CeCe, working with loved ones has been a joy because of their individual professionalism, which makes their recording experience much more enjoyable.
Throughout, Still remains a musical experience that epitomizes the journey both Bebe and Cece have enjoyed to now. Bebe acknowledges, "I believe this is going to be the most successful album we've had, and it's not because we deserve it, it's because we believe it. People give up believing." Similarly, they equally desire that everyone who hears this album to be entertained, but as Cece so eloquently states, "I want them to take away peace, happiness, hope and joy, those eternal things that will last." Resting upon an unshakeable faith in earnest, a resilient family foundation and a whole lot of love along the way, Still feels just like that dynamic duo we've missed, but we're so glad they've returned in a bold new way.