By Jenny Bennett, contributing writer, GospelMusicChannel.com
BeBe and CeCe Winans are each at their best when they're together. With all they've accomplished individually in the 15 years since they last recorded together, that's saying a lot.
The title track for their highly anticipated album Still sums it up: It's been a long time since we've been together. So much has happened, some good and some sad...some things never change...still lost without You...always addicted to Your love.
This song sets the stage, in a powerful way, for one of the strongest albums yet for this musical family, one that has continued to reach audiences far and wide, appealing to music lovers of every variety. With trumpet fanfare Still introduces this talented pair back to the Gospel scene, grabbing the listener with an easy, flowing groove offset by invigorating harmonies.
With such a strong opening, you wonder how any artist - experienced or not - could keep it up, but the siblings don't disappoint, leading right into the album's first single, "Close to You," a tenderhearted love song with Gospel overtones.
The album moves on to more serious topics too, and as BeBe explains, he was intrigued when traveling overseas, comparing other cultures to America. "When I see how happy people are with less, it triggers a question about things."
As CeCe further explores, "You learn that you can have all the precious things and not have peace, happiness and joy. It's a strong message people need to hear because only what you build for God will last and everything else passes by."
As a result, "Things" featuring their brother, Pastor Marvin Winans, carries one of the stronger spiritual messages on the record, reminding us that fame and money don't matter.
No Gospel album is complete without a song titled "Grace," and this one is a gorgeous ballad sure to have the eyes of seekers everywhere welling up with tears. Backed by a full choir, the Winans' voices shine front and center.
CeCe's voice is especially lovely throughout the record, shimmering above '80s-infused dance beats ("A Reason to Dance,") reggae flavor ("He Can Handle It,"), and techno flair ("Change My World,") - the perfect contrast to BeBe's smoky soul.
And with a variety of styles evident throughout, the project still manages to stay modern and relevant.
"I think I was kind of nervous at first," shares CeCe of Still, "because when you think about it, 15 years is a long time. Nobody can be 'BeBe and CeCe'...we kinda have that cornered. But people have changed; the industry has changed. There's a whole new generation that wasn't born when BeBe & CeCe came out the first time around," she says with a laugh. "You want to be able to relate to people, remaining who you are."
The Winans' children were able to help their respective parents achieve just that. CeCe's son Alvin Love III, who wrote "Change My World," was especially important to the process by providing feedback to his mom and uncle on just about every song.
"He likes BeBe and CeCe more than BeBe and CeCe do," relays BeBe. Always a family affair for the Winans, nephew Mario also contributed as producer of "Let It Be," featuring Mary Mary.
BeBe's "guinea pig" was Mom Winans, which CeCe says, "isn't fair," with a semi-serious look of disdain on her face. "She just really likes you...a lot!"
The closeness and playful sibling rivalry is part of what makes this pair work so well. When you have that kind of chemistry it's apt to translate to any setting.
Destined to go in the books as a classic male-female duet, appropriate for either the studio or the stage, "Never Thought" rests in the happiness that comes with time spent in pursuit of a close relationship to the Father, and is a particularly compelling example of that synergy. BeBe steps into the spotlight with I Found You (Cindy's Song)," where it would seem he's found a place of peace in the aftermath of his divorce from Debra in 2003 after 16 years of marriage.
...some good and some sad...
The global message of the aforementioned "Let It Be" rounds out the offering, and gives Gospel's other leading sibling duo an impressive collaborative credit.
The bottom line is: don't miss this project. Point, blank - even if you take away the anticipation surrounding BeBe & CeCe's return - Still is nonetheless one of the top releases this year.
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