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Winans siblings ready for one final go-round

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, April 1, 2011

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Next year marks the 30th anniversary for BeBe and CeCe Winans as a duo.

But the Detroit-born siblings and gospel music superstars aren't planning to be together to celebrate it.

Both siblings, who are part of the Winans family gospel music dynasty and have been spending more time working apart than together in recent years, have targeted the Oct. 19 presentation of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as a convenient conclusion to their time together. "I told (CeCe), 'Sweetie, I think that's the day we say, 'Thank you. See ya. So Long. Have a great life,' " says BeBe, 48.

"I feel on the inside this is our last go-round. Every journey comes to an end, so I believe it's going to be that for us."

CeCe, meanwhile, affirms that she's "on board" with the decision and says there's "no sadness" about the imminent end of the duo, which has also had crossover success in the R&B realm with Top 10 hits such as "Addictive Love," "It's O.K.," "Lost Without You" and a version of the Staples Singers' "I'll Take You There."

"I think we've done what we've done," she says. "We both have other things that we want to do," she adds, "and we both understand the commitment that it takes to continue to do BeBe and CeCe -- and it's just a lot, you know?

"I should say I'll be shocked if you don't hear anything from BeBe and CeCe ever again. But as far as scheduling it and really continuing as a (group) on the road or in the studio every two years then, no, it won't be like that, and it's OK."

If this is indeed the end of the duo -- which has released seven albums and won Grammy, Dove, Stellar, NAACP Image and Soul Train awards -- BeBe and CeCe are going out on a high note. Last year's "Still," their first new studio album in 15 years, topped the Billboard gospel chart, hit No. 2 on the R&B chart and won a pair of Grammy Awards -- Best Contemporary Gospel Album and Best Gospel Performance for the track "Grace." "Close to You" hit No. 1 on the Gospel singles chart as well and was BMI's Most Performed Gospel Song of the Year in 2010.

"To come out after 15 years and the people still love us and we see the older generation with the newer generation, kids who weren't even born when we were out before, it's pretty exciting," CeCe, 46, says. "I think we did a good job in recreating BeBe and CeCe, staying true to who we are but being fresh and up with the times as well.

"We wanted to come back and do that, and I think we did. But we realized this is really the end."

And, BeBe adds, "Still's" success makes it even easier to put a cap on their career as a duo.

"I felt it was important for us to say goodbye in the manner of honestly saying goodbye," he explains. "The album (got) a wonderful reception and an appreciation that caused us to look back and say, 'Wow, it's been a great journey' and end it here."

CeCe says she and her brother "aren't trying to make a big exit noise here." They plan to spend the months leading up to the Walk of Fame ceremony playing shows, including the Still Something Big Tour with Mary Mary that kicks off this weekend in Detroit. Meanwhile, they're eyeballing their respective solo futures with great anticipation.

CeCe is planning to record her own live album at some point of the year, and she's working on her annual Always Sisters, Forever Brothers youth gathering during July in Nashville. "That's where my heart is," she says. "I could do that full time and nothing else. My passion is in pouring it into the next generation."

BeBe, meanwhile, plans to "say 'so long' to the touring and the craziness that goes on with that" and concentrate on other musical projects. Among those is a standards album he's working on with legendary producer Phil Ramone and for which he's already recorded three songs -- "Mona Lisa," "Moon River" and Frank Sinatra's "My Way." He's predicting a release for that later this year.

He's also finishing the script for a theatrical piece currently titled "Through My Eyes: The Winans Family -- The Musical," which will feature seven or eight original songs and other selections from the family's catalog. "It's going to be a celebration," BeBe promises. Casting is expected to start soon, and Winans himself -- who has been in companies for "The Color Purple," "Don't Get God Started" and "Civil War" -- has agreed to perform in initial productions, which are currently being pitched to regional theaters and could open somewhere before the end of the year.

"Music will always be a part of me and what I do, but there's other things I want to do, too, both in music writing and in acting a little more -- maybe stage, maybe television or movies," BeBe says. "My mindset has a lot to do with accomplishing anything. Music has taken me to various places, so we'll see where I can take it from here."

BeBe & CeCe Winans, Mary Mary and VaShawn Mitchell perform at 8 p.m. Friday, April 1, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $29.50-$77.50. Call 313-471-6611 or visit www.olympicaentertainment.com.

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