Winans duo releases first gospel album in 15 years

ATLANTA (AP) - October 7, 2009

CeCe Winans said she believes it's an opportunity for the duo to follow the same message they have sung in their inspirational lyrics: Have faith.

"It has to put be put through the test," she said. "We sang about the answer for years. So when we experience the trials and tribulations, we have to apply the same answer we've been telling others for years. It's a reality. We have to make the walk and not just talk about it."

On Tuesday, about six months after their father David "Pop" Winans Sr. died in Nashville, BeBe and CeCe Winans released "Still." It's the first album in 15 years for the duo, which has won five Grammys and seven Dove Awards.

Recently, after taping a show at the Gospel Music Channel, the brother and sister reflected on how "Pop" influenced their careers, keeping them humble during their time of soaring success.

While recording "Still" with CeCe, BeBe said their father often came to mind. So did their brother Ronald, who died in 2005.

"Everything we do, we think about them," said BeBe, 47. "We had to draw on each other's strengths on this one. We'll always remember everything we've learned from our father. He kept us grounded no matter how successful we became."

BeBe, CeCe and their eight brothers and sisters were raised by gospel stars David and Delores Winans in one of gospel music's first families.

The brother-sister duo's hits include 1991's "Addicted to Love" and the 1996 release "Feels Like Heaven (With You)." They have turned out nine albums, going platinum once and gold three times.

CeCe stepped out on her own as a solo artist, releasing eight albums to win one of her seven Grammys with this year's album "The Kingdom Come." BeBe has produced six solo albums and has won three Grammy awards.

They were once criticized by gospel purists for their R&B-infused gospel sound.

But many believe BeBe and CeCe's contemporary sound helped pave the way for top-selling artists like Mary Mary and Kirk Franklin.

"They showed how gospel music can be portrayed in another way," said Tina Campbell of the sister duo Mary Mary. "Some were afraid to do it. But they did with excellence. So when I first heard about them releasing their new album, I screamed with joy. That's how much they mean to gospel music."

Although they have matured over the past 15 years, BeBe and CeCe say they still believe songs can be inspirational without explicitly mentioning "God" or "Jesus."

"We're offering up our praises and how we express ourselves," said CeCe, 45. "Most accept it now, and some are going to have their opinion. And that's fine."

"Still" is a mixture of laid-back songs like the album's first single, "Close To You," and uptempo songs such as "He Can Handle It." Mervyn Warren, Mario Winans and Warryn Campbell each produced tracks on the album.

BeBe, who wrote most of the songs, said he had to rely on his faith when he was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault after authorities said he pushed his ex-wife to the ground in Nashville in March. A court date is set for Oct. 20.

The dispute came during a time when BeBe was a judge on BET's television show "Sunday Best." When the charges were made public, he had to learn how to endure criticism.

"I'm wiser in my purpose," he said. "You understand the industry and how people perceive you - whether it's negative or positive. Over the time, my skin became thicker."

BeBe believes the adversity has made the family stronger too.

"We're just like any other family that goes through the ups and downs," he said. "But understanding who God is and how He keeps you through, I know that everything will be all right."

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