The Winans are the first family of contemporary gospel. The most successful of the various acts spun off their family tree is Bebe and Cece Winans, who brought their brand of pop and rhythm-and-blues flavored gospel to the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum Friday night.
A crowd of a several thousand - not a full house, but a respectable turnout still - showed up to hear the Grammy Award-winning duo sing numbers from their latest album, ``Different Lifestyles.' They were hampered by an abominable sound mix early in the show, though the sound quality improved over the course of their hour-long set.If you didn't know of their religious orientation, you could be forgiven for mistaking their music for the sort of synth-inflected black pop one hears on the radio and finds on the charts. But they make their beliefs known between songs, when they talk to the crowd.
``Tonight we're here to share with you through song his wonderful love,' said Bebe Winans. That remark came between the two centerpieces of their performance: ``That's What He Said' and ``Supposed to Be.'
The first of these built through a series of tempo changes, call and response vocals and righteous testifying to a rousing peak. While Cece Winans chanted, ``That's what he told me ... that's what he said,' her partner extemporized in his gruff, fiery voice, pulling the crowd into the spirit of the song.
``Supposed to Be' featured some biting vocals from Cece and served as an opportunity to introduce the band. These two extended songs occupied about half an hour; there were only a handful of others before the show was over. The concert did not exactly seem worth the $19.50 ticket price, given the bad sound and abbreviated show.
Out in the lobby, official tour T-shirts were being hawked for $20, just like the rock stars charge. In an unusual twist, the emcees informed everyone that they could use their ticket stub to see a closed-circuit telecast of the Holmes-Holyfield fight for half price at the coliseum annex.
Two local gospel groups - WCTS (We Came to Sing) and the Spirit of Life Community Choir - opened the show. The latter group, composed of members of various Winston-Salem church choirs, made a joyful, thrilling noise that surpassed even the Winans in electricity and conviction.