By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]
At only 56 years of age, Gospel singer Bebe Winans has already achieved the title of “legendary”- partially because for most of his life he’s been performing- and his new book explains how he was “born for” entertaining audiences and spreading God’s word through music.
Winans’ new book Born for This: My Story in Music is set to officially release Oct. 15, and it gives readers a much more in depth grasp of the renowned singer’s life and career.
“The book is a more broader view and understanding of my childhood and also when Cece and I left Detroit and joined up with Jim and Tammy Baker,” Winans told the AFRO in an exclusive interview at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention in Miami last week.
“So in the book, and the musical, this is part of my story that a lot of people don’t know about; how we became a duet. If it wasn’t for Jim Baker, there wouldn’t be no Bebe and Cece, because we didn’t decide to be a duet.”
Coming from a family who’s pipes are celebrated in Gospel circles, Winans explained how difficult it was to tell his family that he and his sister were becoming a duet and leaving the family group.
“It was the hardest thing to go back home. Cece and I were a part of this group… so we had to go home and say, ‘Hey guys, remember when we were a group? Well, we’re we’re not anymore. You’ve got to go and get a job, because me and Cece are a duet,’” he said. “It was the hardest thing to do, but in the book you’ll learn about those things.”
Although now the Winans name immediately connotes Gospel greatness, Bebe told the AFRO that was not originally his last name.
“You’ll learn that my last name was not Winans. I was a Glenn… Winans was not our last name,” Winans told the AFRO. “My dad’s parents were not married. He was born out of wedlock and had a strained relationship with his father, so my last name and my six older brothers’ last name was Glenn. Bebe Glenn,” he said laughing after hearing the ring of the name said out loud.
“And Cece was the only one in my family born as a Winans, because my great-grandfather loved my father,” he said. “My father loved him even though he had a strained relationship with his father… He wanted Winans to exist, and be heard and be left. So my father walked us, and my mom, to the courthouse…and in 1963 we became Winans.”
The singer believes that even with family drama coming from the last name change, the name Winans was all part of a larger purpose.
“I really believe it was God’s purpose. I really do believe it was supposed to be, but in doing His purpose, there comes conflict. The Glenns- my grandmother- were offended that after all this time, because Glenns took care of my father,” he told the AFRO. “And all of a sudden now, they change their name to Winans? They [Winans] did nothing for you? But He knew that that’s what it was supposed to be.”
In speaking of God’s larger purpose, Winans shared how he’s been able to keep such a long career in performing, even with all the temptations of the music industry.
“It’s not hard when your mind is made up. There is that struggle of: ‘Do I remain faithful to my faith, because fame is tugging at me to come this way?’ And there’s doors in which I could’ve went to become famous, and even more famous quicker, because there’s nothing wrong with being famous,” Winans told the AFRO.
“But are you going to compromise who you are? No thank you. That was what made up in my mind.”
Winans’ book, Born for This: My Story in Music is available for pre-order on Amazon.com.
You can also see the full AFRO exclusive on the Afro-American Newspapers’ Facebook page.