Where our intrepid editorial team take an askance look at the weird and wonderful world of music and media.
As Britain breathlessly awaits the arrival on these shores of BeBe, CeCe, Marvin, Carvin, Michael and Ronald Winans over the next couple of weeks, it is surely time once more to ponder what they put in the Detroit water supply that has turned this whole family into recording artists. Just to keep us up-to-date with gospel's leading soap - those who must be held at least partly responsible, Mom and Pop (or if you prefer Delores and David) Winans currently have a hot-selling traditional-style album out on Sparrow. BeBe and CeCe, not content with resting on their laurels after the mega-success of 'Heaven' are busy recording a new album, in between blitzing Europe with live shows. The Winans brothers currently have a single 'It's Time' in the top five in Billboard's urban contemporary chart. Daniel's no slouch, and is in the studio working on a new album. Younger sisters Angela and Debbie, eager not to be left behind, have just signed to Frontline and Capitol as the Winans Sisters - meanwhile Marvin's wife Vickie Winans, you guessed it, is an artist in her own right and signed to Geffen Records! In addition to all this activity the Winans have their own label, Selah Records, and their own recording studio in Detroit, which is handy for filling in that troublesome leisure time. Ron Winans has a choir, the Family and Friends Choir, who record for the family label, and Carvin recently released a children's gospel album titled 'The Gospel Buggy' on Selah. Carvin and Michael also use those boring free evenings writing songs for other artists, while BeBe keeps his hand in writing TV jingles for insignificant little outfits like the Coca Cola Corporation. Michael can't be bothered with such trivial pursuits - he's founded and pastors The Perfecting Church in Detroit, and firmly quashes any accusations of idleness by hosting a six-night-a-week gospel radio show. Speaking of pressures of success, Carvin admitted in a recent interview that "your kids have to grow up without you a lot of times". Ah well - they're probably too busy in the rehearsal studio to get too upset about not having a Mum or Dad (or should that be a Mom or Pop?)
Admirable as all this industry is, I think that perhaps the time has come for what we business types term 'rationalisation'. Firstly, I think Angela and Debbie's Winan's Sisters concept is a mistake. Surely it would make more sense to consolidate on BeBe and CeCe's success and merge the two projects - as AA, BeBe, CeCe and DeDe Winans?
Catchy, isn't it? And secondly, I don't think we've covered the family angle quite yet - possibly a Grandpop and Grandmom project is not feasible, but surely there's an Unc or Auntie Winans somewhere in the wings? And having accepted that Carvin's cornered the kids' market, what about the Winans family pets - is there a Fido Winans, at present at a loose end mooching around on a chain in the back yard, who could be trained up to break doggie gospel onto an unsuspecting public? Having said that, some traditional gospel lovers are already unhappy with the "ambiguous lyrical content" of some Winans' clan material. Maybe we ought to shelve that one...
Switching from black gospel to that other cutting edge of contemporary culture, religious brass band music [Some mistake here, surely? Ed.] you probably won't remember, but buried within a review of The Salvation Army's "Hymns And Songs For Sunday" smash in issue 3 of Cross Rhythms was on offer our venerable editor, Tony Cummings, thought no one would refuse. Eager to find out if any Cross Rhythms readers actually listen to the stuff, he offered a free copy of the album to the first brass fan to write in. The response so far has been - underwhelming. Well, zero, actually. Still, he's pressing on in his determination to leave no musical stone unturned and has commissioned an article on the genre. Hey, that reminds me...how about a Grandpop Winans Friends and Family Brass Band Ensemble Play Black Gospel Classics The Way Your Mother Used To Bake? Anyone?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.