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BeBe and CeCe Winans

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Black Music Month Celebrates BeBe and CeCe Winans.

BeBe & CeCe Winans is an American Gospel music brother and sister duo. BeBe (Benjamin) and CeCe (Priscilla) Winans are the seventh and eighth of “Mom” and “Pop” Winans’ ten children, most of whom have had successful Gospel music careers.

Musical career

While BeBe and CeCe were in high school, four of their elder brothers formed the successful Gospel music group The Winans. Initially known as The Winans Part II, BeBe and CeCe first appeared in the public eye when they debuted in 1982 as part of the singing group The PTL Singers on the long running popular Christian television show Praise The Lord.[1] They were introduced by Jim Bakker by their childhood nicknames and recorded their first album Lord Lift Us Up as a duo for PTL Records.

Self-titled debut

BeBe and CeCe left the PTL Singers in 1987 to pursue a musical career and that same year, Sparrow Records offered the two siblings a Gospel recording contract. Their mainstream debut release was the self-titled album BeBe & CeCe Winans. It was produced by Keith Thomas, who had at that time also produced Amy Grant and Vanessa L. Williams. The debut record gave them their first R&B hit, “I.O.U. Me,” which topped R&B and inspirational charts and generated Grammy nominations, and Dove and Stellar Awards. CeCe also earned a Grammy for “Best Soul Gospel Performance, Female” for the song “For Always.”[1]

They were one of the first African American artists to receive significant airplay on CCM radio stations and the second African American artists to receive the Dove Award in the Group of the Year category.

Heaven

They also remained steadily popular with R&B audiences as well, spawning 12 R&B hit singles including 2 #1 singles. The pair became the first Gospel artists to see their album reach #1 on the Billboard sales charts in 1988 after the release of their second LP Heaven. The title track also reached #12 on the Billboard R&B singles chart.[2]

Other hits from the album included Lost Without You, and Celebrate New Life.[3].

The album reached the R&B Top Ten, went to #95 on the Pop Charts and was certified Gold.[4]

Different Lifestyles

BeBe and CeCe had their biggest success with the release of their 1991 album Different Lifestyles featuring the singles “Addictive Love” and a cover of The Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There” featuring Mavis Staples. Both singles topped R&B charts. [5] Rapper MC Hammer also made an appearance on the single “The Blood” at the height of his career.

First Christmas

The release of Lifestyles was followed by a holiday release titled First Christmas in 1993. This album showcased BeBe’s production skills and led to him doing production work with Whitney Houston on the soundtrack for the movie The Bodyguard as well as production and writing music for artists such as Gladys Knight, Bobby Brown, The Clark Sisters and his younger sisters Angie and Debbie Winans.

Relationships

1994 saw the release of their last studio album Relationships, featuring the notable singles “If Anything Ever Happened To You,” “Love Of My Life,” and “Stay With Me.” This album conveyed a more personal approach, in CeCe’s words: “A lot of people think we’re supposed to be perfect, but we’re people too, we go through hurt [and] pain. We get songs through experiences and as we reveal these things, people are touched.”[1]

As a duo, BeBe and CeCe Winans’ accolades include 5 Grammy Awards, 8 Dove Awards, 2 NAACP Image awards, a Soul Train award, and over a dozen Stellar Awards, 12 charting R&B singles, as well as numerous #1 singles on Christian radio, 3 Gold albums and 1 Platinum album.

Solo careers

In 1995, they officially parted ways to work on their solo careers and other areas of interest. Both artists have gone on to have successful solo careers, receiving numerous awards and accolades. To date, BeBe has released six solo albums, while CeCe has released eight.

BeBe and CeCe Winans have only recorded together twice since 1996: once on What A Child, a duet from CeCe’s Christmas album His Gift, and once on Tonight Tonight, a duet from BeBe’s 2000 album Love & Freedom.

Still

In 2007, CeCe Winans’ website confirmed a reunion album scheduled for a late 2009 release.[6] The new CD entitled Still was released October 6, 2009 on BeBe and CeCe’s own record label B&C Records, distributed by Malaco. The album’s lead single “Close To You,” released June 2009, remained at #1 on gospel radio charts for several weeks.[7] The album reached #1 on the Gospel Album Charts, #2 on the R&B Charts and #14 at the Billboard Pop Albums. The latter position was a career high for the duo. [8]

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