The Winans: The Detroit-born masters of R&B gospel crossover

Wednesday 1st December 1993

Currently climbing the US R&B charts, THE WINANS are back with another high profile album. Tony Cummings reports.

The Winans
The Winans

Love it or loathe it the sales phenomena that is gospel crossover is again with us in the shape of those four veterans from Detroit. The Winans' new album, 'All Out', is undoubtedly destined to do as well as its predecessor 'Return', which was certified gold for sales of over 500,000 copies. You'll remember that that album featured guest appearances from such mainstream luminaries as Stevie Wonder, Teddy Riley, Aaron Hall and Kenny G. 'All Out' has another batch of secular guests this time offering R Kelly, Lalah Hathaway, Kenny Loggins, Gerald Levert and most surprising of all, country Star Ricky Van Shelton.

As Carvin Winans commented in a recent interview with American journalist Tim A Smith, the group are well aware that some sections of the church look on disapprovingly at the Winans' inclusion of mainstream pop and R&B stars. "We get some criticism for having mainstream artists appear on our albums. But it doesn't bother us much. When artists find out we're getting ready to go into the studio, they call us, they call the record company asking if they could do something with us. When you hear the names of artists that we hear, it gets hard to turn people down. We don't want it to become a habit or an every album event, but we don't mind, it's flattering to know that these artists have respect for what we do and sing about. While we were in the studio recording this album, we never encountered a problem with anybody getting out of line. That makes you feel good about your music even more. Everyone we worked with came in and submitted to how we felt and viewed things."

Sessions for the album had to be slotted in between breaks of the monumental One Family World Tour which has kept not only the Winans busy but Mom And Pop Winans, BeBe And CeCe Winans, Daniel Winans and Angie And Debbie.

"Touring together was a very interesting experience," reflected Carvin. "I'm used to touring with Marvin, Ronald and Michael. We had never travelled with BeBe and CeCe, my mom and dad or any of the others. We didn't really know what to expect. As family, and we're a very close family, you may argue at times. During the beginning of rehearsals for the tour, there were a couple of flare-ups. After that happened, we didn't know how it would turn out, being a long tour and all. But it eventually turned out to be a lot of fun. For me, it was a thrill to have my parents out there, to spend a lot of time with BeBe and CeCe, Daniel and the rest of the family. As a family, you have to put your egos aside and work together. At times that's not an easy chore, but we were fortunate to be able to do that."

The Winans: The Detroit-born masters of R&B gospel crossover

In between albums, rumours have run rampant in the States that the Winans were folding as a group. "No way," Carvin emphatically replied. "We've never talked about breaking up. We have a commitment to Qwest/Warner Brothers and we'll definitely fulfil that commitment. Now, we have talked about doing different individual projects. I want to do a solo album soon. I'm getting that together right now. Ronald has his choir that he's pretty much wrapped up in. Michael is trying to get down into his writing more. And Marvin, his heart is definitely into pastoring. His church, the Perfecting Church, is growing by leaps and bounds. He feels that's where his calling is and we respect that. But for now, the Winans are here to stay."

The album's title 'All Out' speaks of the Winans' determination to take their music to all places, reaching all people. "We want this album to reach all phases of music," emphasised Carvin. "The country, the pop, the R&B, the gospel, rap. We want to take out all the stops and let people know in all walks of life, the message of the Winans, which is Christ, is soon to come. We were fortunate enough to be brought up in a Christian home with parents that cared about and loved us. Everybody hasn't had that. But we want people to know that no matter how you were brought up, no matter what a person's situation, that He knows and there's not a situation He can't handle. That's our goal with this album: for it to go all out in the highways and byways, wherever that might be, reaching and touching everybody." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


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