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Vickie Winans: The Joy Princess on Overcoming Her Private Pain
By Shamerra T. Brown
Some label her the hardest-working woman in Christian music. As one of her
previous albums proclaims, MannaScript dubs her The Lady. Vickie Winans has
endured everything imaginable, is known as a savvy businesswoman, and keeps
the goals of God front and center. This makes her a modern-day ideal servant—a
survivor of sorts.
Born Vivian Bowman in 1953, the budding starlet always had her sights set on
music ministry. She rose to popularity with her 1985 debut Be Encouraged. Over
the years, Vickie gained an international fan base with hits like “Everything Will Be
Alright,” “We Shall Behold Him,” and “Long as I Got King Jesus.” A lifetime of ups
and downs, and nine albums later, Vickie Winans is at her best. Gone are the
seasons where depression had Vickie in bed for days and doctors had her on a
slew of pills, trying to medicate her soul ailments away. To culminate her
experiences and hopefully offer support to others, Vicke presents her most recent
effort, Woman to Woman: Songs of Life, a double CD that includes live and studio
tracks. The album features a live concert in Chicago, hosted by her mentor, Bishop
Back at home in Michigan, the Grammy nominee handles most of her business
(phone calls, e-mails, travel arrangements, etc.), because in her words, she needs
“things to be done right.” And although she can certainly afford a manager, The
Lady wisely chooses to manage her own career (collecting the would-be manager’s
20 percent cut). Also, she travels almost nonstop, ministering some 150 dates per
year. So getting Vickie Winans to become un-busy for a day was a feat all its own,
yet well worth it when she finally let loose.
The Lady really needs no further introduction, so let’s jump right in to the intriguing
world of the candid Vickie Winans.
Shamerra T.Brown: Vickie, I remember the first time I heard your voice, it was on
BeBe & CeCe’s first album in 1984, on the song “Turn,” I thought what a powerful
voice! Do you look back on those early recording days as some of the best times,
or are you living the best years in your ministry now?
Vickie Winans: All those times are good times for me. It’s just that now I’m a little
more famous than I was back then. But they all were good times; I just don’t know
what else to tell you. I’ve just had a wonderful, wonderful career.
STB: As a child, did you always know you’d be in Gospel music? Did you ever think
about doing anything else?
VW: No, I’ve always thought that I’d be singing. I didn’t know it would be like this
though. I didn’t know if it would be in a local church, but I always thought I’d be
singing, and I love it!
STB: When you got your first record deal, did you see it as ministry at that time?
What would you say to someone starting out in ministry, or any profession?
VW: Well, first of all you’ve got to be dedicated and focused. I’m the kind of person
who is very focused on what I’m trying to get done, and I’m very excited about what I
do. I always want to do it in excellence, and I think everybody expects that out of
me…that’s another thing that keeps me so tired. You have to be focused and want
to do what you’re doing…because the minute the money may not be there, or you
may not get “out there” as fast as you want…a lot of people leave and do other
things, but I’m just straightforward and steadfast. I’m constantly hammering at what
God wants me to do and I know what He wants me to do.
STB: You minister so personally in your songs, hitting listeners right at the place
where they are hurting…and then you witness about the joy of the Lord. Talk about
VW: I’ve been through so much and when I was going through, a lot of times I didn’t
have someone to help or come along and soothe me. Or maybe I just wasn’t finding
the right songs. Sometimes you can though. That’s why I did 33 songs on this
particular record because something is going to help some situation, somewhere.
STB: Somebody, somewhere, someway…
VW: Yeah because I’ve been though it—I have been sick, I’ve been evicted, un-
victed, possessed, repossessed, fat, divorced…I’ve been through it all. There’s
nothing else that I can’t tell you that I haven’t been through that these songs won’t
STB: People get a strong sense that you care about them as much as you care
about the things of the Lord. Is it your life’s mission to minister to hurting people?
VW: Yes it is, because I don’t want them to hurt one minute longer than I had to.
STB: When you went through your divorce [from Marvin L. Winans, Sr.] how were
you feeling at that time? What gave you the courage to open yourself to the Lord’s
healing? How would you advise someone to go through? …Because sometimes it’s
hard (for any of us) to open up (even to the Lord) when life seems unbearable.
VW: It ain’t that easy. Sometimes you’re going through so much, you cannot