Even though I grew up in churches, I will admit I don’t know much about BeBe Winans. I do know that he and his sister CeCe are Gospel music legends, who have won many awards throughout their careers. I can not name any of their songs or albums, although I do listen to several Christian artists.
I was hoping by reading BeBe’s book Born For This: My Story In Music (Faithwords, 2019) I would know more about his career and who he is. Unfortunately, I learned very little about the man behind the music.
The book starts off compelling and emotional, with BeBe describing he and his family’s time dealing with the sickness and death of one of his brothers Ronald. The book keeps a telling and entertaining read at first, in that it is not a normal autobiography with dates and a timeline, but written where the chapters start off with a Bible verse (or quote) and then that part of his life is retold trying to keep the theme of the quote or verse. This made the book appealing to me at first, until the halfway point.
BeBe recalls his youth and growing up in the church, along with his father’s story of how he (his father) changed his name to Winans . BeBe also details how his church became a family to him, with discipline, respect, and a love for community that were all installed into his values. BeBe tells about how he started to feel a little disappointed how his older siblings (including sister CeCe ) got their musical breaks before him, by auditioning for the Praise The Lord Club show, which was run by Jim and Tammy Bakker, who wanted only his sister and not BeBe.
The Praise The Lord Club stories start off interesting, where once BeBe gets a break singing in the choir, and then later, duets with his sister, stating that there was shock by the audience (along with complaints from viewers) that African American singers were being showcased on the show. The writer starts to tease friction among those that helped broadcast the show, while being viewed as the pet projects of the Bakkers.
Halfway through the book is where things start to fade. Winans tells about how living in the South, along with singing on television and on records, turns into a race issue. I am not doubting the writer’s experiences in having to deal with being the one of the first major acts thrown onto a southern television show (who am I to judge what the author experienced), but the way it is written , the book turns into a “woah is me” experience. The early part of the book shows the drive that BeBe had wanting to be a singer, but the last half of the book turns out to be someone who almost complains about having the success.
There is a story about Tammy Bakker swearing right before a live broadcast, where the writer details the swear word several times in the following pages (which may seem odd for a Christian book to keep using the word on so many pages). BeBe also tells that a close white female friend of his gets fired by the Bakkers after the Bakkers claim that she and Winans were becoming too close. The reply in the book to this was “if people think we’re dating, let’s date,” almost to shove it into people’s faces. For someone that uses the book to claim he was judged by racial problems, the way this event is written makes it like he was dating her because she was white. There is a lack of detail describing an actual build up to a relationship before this story.
The book ends up just ending where Winans starts becoming famous with some of his albums. The book basically covers his early career. He does have some nice stories about befriending Whitney Houston, but the second half is mostly either almost complaining about not being as famous as he should be early on, to God promising him he would be famous and rich and questioning God when it didn’t happen as quick. When the reader wants to see his thoughts on the results of Jim and Tammy’s fall in the Christian world, Winans just brushes the events over , stating that they are human and it’s in God’s hands. I understand him not wanting to bash those that gave him a break , but it just stops the conversation that he spent a lengthy part of the book talking about with one minor sentence as the conclusion.
I am not sure if it is the editing or this was the way Winans wanted to express his thoughts, but the overall book seems flat. It starts off well, but after the halfway point, it turns into one of those books that he doesn’t seem grateful for what he was given. There is a part in the book where he mentions being mistaken for a valet parker while standing outside of a fancy restaurant. He then writes how he wants to go off on that person. The book tends to focus more on the race issue than being a Christian book discussing his music (which is what the title suggests). The Bible verses that are featured in the book do not get much of an explanation. I could see a normal secular musician writing a book about being angry about things in his past, but not a Gospel legend from a Christian publisher.
Just because I was not a fan of the book overall, due to the way I interpreted the voice of the writer, the work that goes into a book is not dismissed in my review. However, since Winans is a famous person, who is considered an icon, I expected more stories on his music (the writing of the songs, some studio stories, etc) and less about how God was supposed to make him famous earlier than he became. There is a lack of Christian viewpoints for the reader, and more of an entitlement attitude that should be used in a Christian Living/Inspirational genre. It lacks emotion and detail in the stories given that one would expect more from a legendary musician.
This copy was sent courtesy of the publisher.
Born For This: My Story In Music by BeBe Winans (Faithwords, 2019) ISBN: 978-1-5460-0989-4 (hardcover), 978-1-5460-0988-7 (ebook).
This book can be ordered at : https://www.faithwords.com/
For information on the author, visit: https://www.bebewinans.net/
Language: Mild (at one section) , otherwise none
Geared For: Ages 15 and Up
For Fans Of: Autobiography, Gospel Music.