October 10, 2009 / 1:44 AM / 9 years ago

BeBe & CeCe end 15-year hiatus with chart-topper

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - If the exuberant audience reaction to BeBe & CeCe Winans’ recent live performance on Steve Harvey’s syndicated radio morning show is any indication, the gospel duo still has the touch.

And with the single “Close to You” notching its fourth week at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart (and reaching No. 11 on Adult R&B), the welcome mat is primed for the pair’s aptly titled new album, “Still.”

Released October 6, “Still” is BeBe & CeCe’s first album in 15 years. It also doubles as the first project on the siblings’ independent label, B&C Records, in association with Malaco Records. Signed to Capitol in the late ‘80s, BeBe & CeCe — members of Detroit’s legendary gospel family the Winans — logged several gospel and R&B crossover hits (“Lost Without You,” “Addictive Love,” “I’ll Take You There”), gold albums (including “Heaven”) and a host of awards.

Taking a break from their collaboration, the pair pursued successful solo careers. By the time the idea of reuniting crossed their minds, 15 years had elapsed.

“We didn’t sit down and say, ‘We’re coming back in 15 years,’” BeBe says with a laugh. “This wasn’t planned.”

CeCe adds, “By the time we finally got everything (the label and album) done, we realized how long it had been.”

While the industry has changed radically since 1994, the duo’s natural chemistry remains intact. Working with longtime producer Keith Thomas and others including Warryn Campbell, Percy Bady and Mario Winans, the intent was, in CeCe’s words, “to be who we are but also current, to gain new fans.”

The pair followed its tried-and-true formula: heartfelt spiritual songs about life that can stand the test of time. In fact, BeBe wrote “Close to You” several years ago.

“When I put it away, I said then that if we did another album, this would be the first single,” BeBe recalls. A second single, “Grace,” is being promoted to gospel radio.

A national tour is being planned for 2010.

“Our intention has always been to record the best music we can,” BeBe says. “After that, we sit back and watch what God does.”

Editing by SheriLinden at Reuters

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