It’s been 10 long years since Bebe Winans, superstar of gospel, R&B and pop has released any new music. He’s been behind the scenes, just how he likes it. The wait is finally over and he’s coming strong with a stunning new album, Need You, a new memoir, Born For This: My Life In Music, a new protégé, Korean Soul, (whom he found, signed and manages) and if that’s not enough, a Broadway musical also named Born for This.
Obviously, he is.
Between a packed schedule and trips to Seoul, South Korea, the six-time Grammy winner, gave BET a satisfying 30 minutes of his time to tell us what’s up and what’s true.
What has characterized your career, as a solo artist versus a career with your sister, CeCe?
By myself, I take all the blame and the glory! I am able to take more of a risk. I can be a little bit more bold. I like being behind the scenes. For me, it is production, music, writing and movies, televisions, commercials.
What is the riskiest thing you’ve done so far?
The musical, Born for This. Maya Angelou once said to me, “Enjoy the struggle. It is in the struggle you find who you are, who people are and who God is.” Faith said, “Just jump into the deep water.” I found out if you jump, there is only one option…to swim. I have been swimming for 10 years with this musical, enjoying learning and losing and getting up, again.
This journey has really taken 10 years?
Oh my God! This was not on my bucket list. I was talking to Roberta Flack and she said, "You need to write this musical." And I remember hanging up the phone, opening the laptop and starting to write about my life, music, and family through my eyes. It was originally going to be called, Through My Eyes. That was the beginning of the journey.
How did you prepare for it, once you decided to do it?
I went to every musical that came to town and I learned the craft of musical theater. For example, I didn’t know there was such a thing as a light designer. It was a totally different world! It was totally different from a recording career! It took 10 years to launch it in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. The show has gone to Santa Monica and Boston and now we have the Broadway team. After that, we will do a movie version, and there is a book coming out October 15, the same story but more in-depth. I’m very excited about it.
How did the new album, Need You, come about?
I took my time and I really do believe that it is my best work to date. I have not toured in 15 years. I’ve been allergic to that word. For now, I will say, there will be “appearances.”
Tell me about the music?
I’m excited to share it. I think listeners can find some answers – such as, the song, "Need You." That song is about but how often we don’t say, “I need you.” Need makes us vulnerable. When we say that, we give another person permission to mistreat us. It is what I have learned is the difference between love and spiritual love. Sometimes, we think we can do life on our own, but I need God and with Him, I become vulnerable. There’s also the song, "Laughter is Like A Medicine." I was excited about working with Korean Soul. They are going to be widely received all over the world.
That song is so uplifting! Tell me about meeting and collaborating with Korean Soul?
I am overwhelmed and full of joy working with these guys. My music supervisor, Donald Lawrence, sent me an Instagram of them singing. One morning, I woke up and said to myself, what about those guys from Korea? I sent them a message about doing a song with them. They thought it was fake. So, I flew to Seoul, South Korea to prove it was really me. Not only was it a beautiful country, they are amazingly talented, their hearts are so genuine…They never thought I would fly to meet them, find them, sign them and now they are coming to America and blowing people away! Only one of them speaks English, but they all can understand some. I can’t understand any Korean. Travel is such a gift. There is so much more outside than the small place that we carve out for ourselves.
What’s the connection between patience and the struggle with faith and fame?
Patience... I don’t think there has been a generation that has been aware of the treasure of that word. It is important to understand that you don’t have to get there tomorrow. If you become anxious, you will go down roads that are not of integrity. It is the reality that I had to face, as well. I made that choice to have faith that it will happen. I had to wait for the right door to open and still have my faith. You can do it as well. The struggle is real and always there. You are always going to have temptation knocking at your door. If you are patient, you are prepared to say, “No, thank you.”
Photo: Noam Galai/WireImage