Born For This – Bebe Winans

Born for This Bebe Winans
Born for This: My Story in Music by BeBe Winans
Published by FaithWords on October 15, 2019
Genres: Non-Fiction, Memoir
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BeBe Winans, six-time Grammy Award-winning singer and member of Gospel music's royal family, shares the candid and close-up journey of pursuing his dreams while holding on to his faith.

Benjamin "BeBe" Winans always knew he was born to be a Gospel singer. Growing up watching his four older brothers perform fueled his dream to be on stage, and as teenagers, he and his younger sister CeCe were offered the opportunity to move from Detroit to North Carolina and join the Praise the Lord Singers for The PTL Club, hosted by the eccentric Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.

Like a conversation with a lifelong friend, BeBe invites readers and loyal fans alike to share in never-before-revealed details about life in the crossfires between church, Gospel music, and the mainstream recording industry. He shares personal stories about his mentor Andraé Crouch and close friend Whitney Houston, who both had a major impact on his life.

In February 2019, I embarked on a Facebook project to highlight a different African-American pastor or spiritual leader each day of the month. I subdivided the centuries into weeks, beginning in the 18th century, leaving me with the final week of the month to deal with the past twenty years. And with the explosion of Black voices in the 21st century, I also turned to Facebook (and Twitter) to ask who I should learn about. More than one answer came in the form of “anybody with the name Winans.” So when I came across Bebe Winans’ memoir Born for This, I knew I had to pick it up.

The Winans family is an establishment unto themselves in the Christian music industry, with nearly every member of their large family working somewhere within the industry. BeBe (Benjamin) Winans was the seventh of ten siblings and got his first break on Jim Bakker’s PTL program by singing with his sister—the eighth sibling—CeCe.

Born for This covers the highs and lows of BeBe’s career, moving from the past to present day, reading like a really in-depth conversation or interview. A lot of the book covers his time at PTL with Jim and Tammy Bakker, offering a unique insight into one of the most well-known and yet secretive televangelist organizations.

Winans talks about his struggles with success, about dealing with celebrity, trying to determine if he was truly on the path God wanted him on, and dealing with the sometimes-cutthroat nature of the industry. It’s difficult to criticize a memoir, because you’re criticizing someone’s life experiences, but Born for This never really goes much below the surface. It’s a PR fluff piece that could have and should have been so much more.

You get hints of the struggle of growing up as a Black icon in a primarily white Pentecostal world. You see dimly behind the big teeth and hair of the Bakkers, but never into scandals that would ultimately take the ministry down. You see the connection to the Winans family at large, but it’s never rooted in anything deep.

Unlike Winans’ singing, this memoir lacks depth and passion, reducing a very interesting life into a standard paint-by-numbers story. There’s so much potential here, so many stories wanting to burst forth, but it’s all kept safe and tame and toothless. I’m happy that I had friends introduce me to Winans, but I’ll stick with his albums over his book.