Live and Up Close
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2002 1 Apr
BeBe Winans hardly needs much introduction as one of the most important voices in Christian pop/R&B from the last 20 years. As a member of the first family of gospel, Benjamin Winans debuted with his sister Priscilla ("CeCe") on Christian television, singing background vocals for their elder siblings before releasing their debut duo album in 1997. After a successful string of hit albums and #1 songs, BeBe and CeCe agreed to take a hiatus as a duo in 1995 and pursue individual projects. CeCe has continued to release hit albums as a solo artist, but BeBe's activities have been a little more low profile. BeBe earned himself a Grammy award for co-producing Whitney Houston's 1993
The majority of the album is taken from a November 2001 live performance at BET Studios in Washington D.C. Not surprisingly, much of the set list focuses on BeBe's solo material, such as "Love & Freedom" and "I Wanna Be," the song that became a #1 hit single in the U.K. when performed by British girl-group, Eternal. Fans of Mr. Winans also will enjoy the wealth of new material found here. The live set begins with a gentle and soulful acoustic rendition of "Amazing Grace." There's also a cover of the song "I Believe," a song BeBe originally wrote for vocal group Take 6. BeBe also debuts a couple new songs, including the gospel-influenced pop of "I Fell in Love with God" and the emotional ballad "Humpty Dumpty," an illustration about how God can put us back together again when we break apart. It's a sweet song that comes across as a bit cheesy and is hard to take completely seriously because of the title. Longtime fans need not fear, BeBe touches on his old favorites with his sister, too. With CeCe unable to join him, little sister Debbie Winans-Lowe (DeDe?) steps up to the microphone to join BeBe in a 15-minute medley of songs that includes "Heaven," "Meantime," "Celebrate New Life," and "Lost Without You." For the record, Debbie does a tremendous job of filling her sister's shoes, and she and BeBe impressively ad-lib together at the end of the medley.