Winans, Debbie and Angie
Angie and Debbie Winans
Angie and Debbie Winans were the ninth and tenth children of David “Pop” and Delores “Mom” Winans. Both parents were musically talented, as were all of their children. The family was very devoted to religion; the ten siblings were only allowed to listen to gospel music. David Winans often worked two jobs, and the family never went hungry, but they lived simply, even on holidays. De-lores told an interviewer for Sisterfriends.com, “Our pastor at that time taught against the commercialism of Christmas. So we really didn’t have trees and presents as most people did. Just a nice big dinner and go to church and that was it.”
Both Angie and Debbie sang as children, both at home and in church, and were inspired by their older brothers, who sang as “The Winans,” and whose string of gospel hits in the early 1980s brought widespread attention to gospel music. Two more siblings, BeBe and CeCe, also performed and produced successful albums. When Angie was 15 and Debbie was 12, they joined their friend Sherry Reynolds Kibble as background singers for BeBe and CeCe. While on the road, Angie met her future husband, Cedric Caldwell, a record producer who played keyboards for BeBe and CeCe.
The girls traveled so much on tour that it was difficult for them to find time to complete their education at Detroit’s Mumford City High School. Attending school was especially difficult for Debbie, who went on the road with the gospel musical Don’t Get God Started when she was 16. After the musical closed, Debbie remained just outside New York City, staying with friends in Trenton, New Jersey, in order to complete her high school education with a tutor. She missed her family and feared that the big city would draw her into a lifestyle that went against her religious teachings. She told the Capital Entertainment website, “I was all alone. I was so worried about becoming a huge sinner that the first thing I did was go to a Bible bookstore and bought a big Dakes Bible that broke it down in ghetto terms.” Without the watchful presence of her mother or brothers, she felt lost. However, she also said that this time of loneliness and hardship was actually good for her, noting, “That’s when I really began to develop a strong spiritual life.”
When BeBe and CeCe each began solo careers in 1993, Angie and Debbie continued to sing together as a duo. Their first album, Angie and Debbie Winans, was released by Capital Records in the summer of 1993. It earned widespread acclaim and was nominated
Born Angelique Winans on March 4, 1968, in Detroit, MI; born Debbie Winans on September 3, 1972, in Detroit, Ml; Angie: married Cedric Caldwell; Debbie: married James Lowe.
Career: Singers, songwriters, 1983-
Addresses: Angie and Debbie Winans, PO Box 66661, Washington Square Station, Washington, DC, 20035.
for Grammy and Soul Train Music awards. The album also included the song “Light of Love,” which made it to the Billboard Hot 100 list, and featured singer Whitney Houston on background vocals. The two sisters also opened for Houston on her national tour in 1993. However, when Capital Records closed its black music division, Angie and Debbie were left to pursue their careers in another direction.
The two sisters continued to sing background vocals for their brother, Daniel, wrote four songs for a film about football star Reggie White, and sang with their sister, CeCe, for a record titled Always Sisters. Angie wrote music for CeCe’s gold album, Alone in His Presence, and for BeBe and CeCe’s Christmas album. Debbie, who had always been more interested in cosmetology than in music and who had earned a license to style hair at the Michigan Barber School, styled hair for Capitol Records photo shoots and also wrote music. She wrote songs for several gospel singers, as well as for sister CeCe.
In 1998 Angie and Debbie released a new album, Bold, produced by the Winans family’s own label, Against the Flow Records. The album aroused a great deal of controversy, largely because of one song, “Not Natural,” which featured the Winans’s comments about homosexuality, which they claimed was “not natural.” Many people, including some in the gospel music community, found the song offensive, and some gospel radio stations refused to play it. In addition, the video that accompanied the song was not aired on MTV, VH1, The Box, or The Bobby Jones Gospel Hour. Although gay activists agreed that the sisters had the right to free speech and to sing any lyrics they chose, they also noted that the sisters’ portrayal of homosexuality was inaccurate and could potentially encourage anti-gay prejudice and violence. The sisters, in response, went to Washington, D.C., with the Traditional Values Coalition. This group was lobbying Congress in an attempt to convince legislators not to sign a bill that would prevent people from being fired from their jobs merely because they were gay.
Angie made her solo album debut with Melodies of My Heart in 2001. The album, released by Against the Flow Records, emphasized a smooth jazz style. Debbie told Rhonda Bates-Rudd in the Detroit News, “The music I did with Debbie is the music that she and I do together as a team, but what you are hearing now … is who I am. It is the kind of music I actually listen to.” She also said, “As a child I prayed for God to give me melodies and music. So when you hear the melodies they are actually God’s melodies you’re hearing.”
Angie and Debbie Winans, Capital Records, 1993.
Bold, Against the Flow Records, 1998.
(Angie) Melodies of My Heart, Against the Flow Records, 2001.
Billboard, December 13, 1997, p. 8.
Detroit News, May 23, 2001.
Jet, November 24, 1997, p. 56.
Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), March 31, 1998, p. 3.
Capital Entertainment, http://www.capitalentertainment.com/ (July 9, 2002).
Eonline News, http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,1988,00.html (October 25, 1997).
GospelFlava.com, http://www.gospelflava.com/articles/angedeb.html (July 9, 2002).
Sisterfriends.com, http://www.sisterfriends.com/awinans.htm (July 9, 2002).
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