Life Story of BeBe Winans Is Headed to the Stage

BeBe Winans. Photo courtesy of John Bayley Photography
BeBe Winans. Photo courtesy of John Bayley Photography

BeBe Winans, the seventh son of the famous gospel singing Winans family, owes much of his fame to 1980s televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.

Before they became mired in sex and money scandals, the Bakkers introduced Winans and his sister CeCe to the millions watching their “PTL (Praise the Lord) Club” show on TV. And that paved the way for other black gospel artists like Yolanda Adams and Donnie McClurkin to reach a broad audience.

“The PTL Network allowed us to be introduced to a whole new audience, a white Christian audience,” Winans said. “And then when we started recording we broke down doors in the white Christian marketplace where they weren’t playing any black artists, Christian artists on those radio stations.”

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Winans spoke in an interview in Washington, where a musical he co-wrote about his life story is set to begin in July at the Arena Stage.

“Born for This: The BeBe Winans Story” attempts to break Winans out of any particular box people may have put him in.

One of those boxes is the notion that he and his sister CeCe (born Benjamin and Priscilla) are joined at the hip.

“People assume that we don’t have separate lives, even though we’ve done as many years as solo projects,” he said.

The debut performances in Atlanta started in April and conclude Sunday (May 15) at the Alliance Theatre.

When Winans first shared his project with director Charles Randolph-Wright, also the director of “Motown The Musical,” the six-time Grammy winner known for rhythm and blues as well as gospel had a much wider plan for the theater stage.

“Originally what he had been working on was a project about the entire Winans family, which would take at least two weeks to do if you went every night for four hours,” said Randolph-Wright, in the joint interview with Winans.

Randolph-Wright, who became co-writer of the production, homed in on a “tiny section” about the appearances of then-15-year-old CeCe and 17-year-old BeBe on the Bakkers’ show in Pineville, N.C. — which happened to be the director’s hometown.

Donte Alexander, 31, a Houston-based fan of the Winans, who traveled to Atlanta to see the play, said it captured how the singing duo helped integrate predominantly white Christian TV and their music crossed over to wider audiences.

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Source: Religion News Service |  Adelle M. Banks

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