...More Than Just a Phase
It’s very easy to place artists, and especially those with famous surnames, high on a pedestal. As GospelFlava.com spent some time with these brothers, and also with their manager, Carvin Winans Sr. (of the original Winans), it became evident that they just don’t allow that to happen. And like any collective of teenagers especially ones who are brothers and cousins things quickly become interesting and intense with the Winans Phase 2.
Keeping track of who’s related to who can be daunting in this family. So, to clear any confusion, a brief climb of the family tree is in order.
Juan, Michael Jr., Marvin Jr. and Carvin Jr. are the sons of members of the Winans (who will probably be stuck with being called “the original Winans” from now on). Michael, Marvin and Carvin are the respective sons of their identically-named fathers. Juan (he calls himself Juan I), is Carvin Winan’s second son, and the brother of Carvin Jr. Marvin Jr. is known in some circles as Coconut, and is also the son of Vickie Winans. The four range in ages from 17 to 19.
GOSPELFLAVA: So, here we are, at the debut of the third generation of recording Winans. How did this all happen? Have you been singing together for a while now?
MARVIN JR.: Our Aunt Debbie [Debbie Winans], she had a dream, and God showed her in that dream about us singing together. Then she told Uncle Carvin, and later they both spoke to us, and things began coming together. At the same time, we began hanging more and becoming closer friends. We're cousins, growing in love and fellowship. We saw what God was doing and so we said, OK, this is what we're supposed to do. Uncle Carvin took us under his wing, and started rehearsals with us, and from there everything just grew and prospered. We did a syndicated commercial for Channel 4 in Detroit (an NBC affiliate), then we did a station ID, and from there on we kept going. And now we’ve got an album.
GOSPELFLAVA: Growing up in a famous family, I can imagine you probably weren't always hidden from the public eye. But this must be different, since the focus now rests solely on the four of you. How do you find that? Is it an adjustment?
CARVIN JR.: Well that's a good question. Growing up, as kids, we knew about the business through our fathers and we met a lot of people just by our fathers knowing them. People like Whitney Houston and ‘em. We really weren't like "Oh man, I just met so-and-so", because we were used to it. So now it's not really a big step. It's just something we know God has called us to do. We know what we have to do, and that's really to stay humble in as far as we go, and as many people as we meet. It's all about souls and winning souls for Christ. That's what keeps us humble.
GOSPELFLAVA: I guess many people go through the struggle, in some way or other, of battling pride. How do you remain humble?
CARVIN JR.: We were brought up in holiness, and you know, our parents made us stay humble. They said that no matter what, no matter how famous you get, you're no better than the person next to you. You're equal to that other person, right by you. So it was never, "Oh yeah, I have a high mind, I'm a Winans." It was never like that. It was all about reaching souls, and when He called us to do this, we knew it was Him. In our house, we didn't get a high mind or you were tested with the belt. So, that cut out real quick!
GOSPELFLAVA: About your album, We Got Next. You have a lot of big industry names involved...Rodney Jerkins, J. Moss, Narada Michael Walden. That's quite an honor, especially since you're a new group.
MICHAEL JR.: We just credit our fathers with the stepping stones they laid for us. I mean, Babyface wrote a song for us! And we look forward to doing it again on the second album.
GOSPELFLAVA: And you even cover a Bee Gees song on the album...
JUAN: Yeah, well "Too Much Heaven" was my dad's [Carvin’s] idea, and my uncle thought it would a good idea too. They thought it would be a great song to cover, which it turned out to be. The Bee Gees were very generous in letting us change around a few words, and letting us make it our own style.
GOSPELFLAVA: We heard that you were going to cover that song, as part of the lead up to the album release. But when you listen to it, I think most people are surprised that you actually go out of your way to take on a very “Bee Gees sound” with the song as well.
MICHAEL JR.: Everything came together great, and every song on the album worked out. So we just thank God.
GOSPELFLAVA: So, how does this dynamic work? I mean, here you are, your uncle or your father is your manager,and he’s also the Vice President (A&R) at the record label. So, to a certain degree, he's your boss.
CARVIN WINANS SR.: To the WHOLE degree! [severe laughing and general hilarity breaks out...]
WINANS PHASE 2: Actually, we're all his boss, but we like having him around. He does a good job..um, a great job...so we don't mind. But we do have other people waiting in the wings though....
CARVIN WINANS SR: My brothers, from the original Winans, we just got together... and I work for Myrrh Records, so we decided to sign the group.
GOSPELFLAVA: Well, it certainly is a different situation. Here you have a family relationship, plus an 'official' relationship, based on a hierarchy within the record company.
CARVIN WINANS SR: Yeah, that's true. All we can say is that God put us all together, and it just happened that way. It is a unique situation. I don't know of another situation like it.
GOSPELFLAVA: [after observing some creative doodling on scrap paper by Phase 2 over the course of the interview] What do you guys do to relax, aside from doodling?
WINANS PHASE 2: We bowl! We're bowlers! We're like, semi-professional bowlers. We organized ourselves a tour even.
GOSPELFLAVA: For real??
CARVIN WINANS SR: They each pocket over 200...
WINANS PHASE 2: [break-out discussions on individual bowling scores]... Mine is 230, Mine is 218...I'm number 1 on the tour. Bowling just crept up on us. Everywhere we go, we bowl. I mean, our bowling balls are just as important as our luggage bags! Everything we do we try to be the best at. I mean, we play sports, basketball, video games. If you hang around us for a while, you'll find we're always doin' something.
GOSPELFLAVA: Anything else on your minds?
CARVIN JR: Our album comes out August 31, we're really excited. It's a project we worked hard on and we're really looking forward to doing a lot of different things with it. God has really taught us alot. We even look at going further than our parents went. Farther than what they were able to do and accomplish.
CARVIN WINANS SR: (nodding in agreement)
CARVIN JR: We believe that our mission is to take it to the next generation, and show them that Jesus saves.
GOSPELFLAVA: After reading CeCe's autobiography, she writes about how Winans' are very competitive within family. Does that extend to you too?
WINANS PHASE 2: Oh yeah. Definitely...we're so competitive...oh, yeah..please!! That's why we bowl! We were just saying how we were on a bowling tour. That's OUR tour, the Winans bowling tour. The five of us have our own tour.
CARVIN WINANS SR: Everytime they would go to record something for the album, they would have their bowling balls with them, and would set up their own bowling tournament....
MICHAEL JR: We would have 'press conferences' afterwards, and 'interviews'. We have our own 'Bowling Commissioner' that no-one has ever seen. The number one bowler at the time is the only one that can speak to the bowling commissioner. Right now, Carvin Jr, he’s the tournament leader, he's number one. It's crazy.
JUAN: It's a lot of fun....alot of competition which builds character. You gotta be tough though. You can't be weak in this family, because everybody's on your case. If you weren't tough, you couldn't take it!
CARVIN JR: It's not a negative thing. It's not like the type of thing like, "We're going to make our daughter be a gymnast". Actually, our fathers weren't even interested in making us sing. They didn't care if we sang at all. It just so happens that we're ending up singing like they did, and they've supported whatever we do.
MARVIN JR: Hey, and we’ve got a question for you. How did you like our album? I mean, really. Be real. What do you rank it, on a scale of 1 to 10?
GOSPELFLAVA: [The answer to that question may be found by checking out the album review, or by posting your own response on our message boards....]
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