BeBe Winans has etched himself into gospel music history, changing the face of the genre throughout the '80s and '90s with his sister, CeCe. Hits like Heaven, Lost Without You and Addictive Love brought a new vibe -- and audience -- to a genre that, at the time, was familiar mainly to those within the walls of the church.
The multi-platinum recording artist is back with his third solo project (his second on Motown) and his first live project, Live And Up Close, an impressive recording that captures the intimacy of a performance last November (which I had the opportunity to attend).
Live and Up Close is a collection of old and soon-to-be new hits. Opening with the bouncy Do You Know Him?, a reworking of the classic Have You Seen Her?, the song is a tactful plea for a relationship with Christ. Warryn Campbell (Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, Luther Vandross, Angie Stone) produced the cut, which is already getting love from radio. Production credits for the remainder of the album go to BeBe, Evan Lamberg and Motown President & CEO Kedar Massenburg.
Winans' take on Amazing Grace is beautiful and understated, featuring just a piano, acoustic guitar, bass and drums.
Older hits include the title tune to his previous project, Love and Freedom and a smooth, mid-tempo I Believe, originally written for Take 6.
Love Thing, dedicated to BeBe's daughter, includes harmonica and laid-back harmonies, with a relaxing, melodic touch.
BeBe ministers powerfully on I Fell in Love With God/This Song, one of the album's highlights. The song left barely a dry eye in the house on the night it was recorded, as BeBe's velvety voice and songwriting talents ministered in an anointed and incredible way.
The music then moves back into an uptempo mode with I Wanna Be, a festive, track with a Calypso feel to it. The song was a number one single and crossover hit for BeBe (and pop girl group Eternal) in the United Kingdom in 1997.
Other great songs on Live And Up Close include Thank You For Being You and It All Comes Down To Love. Humpty Dumpty is BeBe’s reminder that there’s only one King who can put us back together again. The incomparable Stephanie Mills brings down the house with Born For This, a song written by BeBe.
Live includes some of the best background singers in the industry: Debbie Winans and Margaret Bell-Byers, as well as noted gospel artists Eric Dawkins and Byron Cage, were part of the tight group.
From beginning to end, BeBe has outdone himself on Live And Up Close.
This project was recorded for BET Gospel, one of BET's Digital Networks channels. Live And Up Close is also available on DVD from Motown.
Watch the latest Bebe Winans music videos on her official Godtube.com artist page!