Historically, African American men haven’t had a chance to control their own narratives. A story like music legend BeBe Winans’, which has taken him from a working-class home in Detroit to the top of the world’s music charts, could have easily wound up as a subpar cable movie.
In typical fashion, the six-time Grammy-winning songwriter and artist decided to pen his life story himself, and the result is the breathtaking “Born For This: The BeBe Winans Story,” co-written and directed by Charles Randolph-Wright. The show is playing at the Arena Stage in Washington DC through August 28.
Any presentation of Winans’ life would be incomplete without music, as he’s one of nine siblings in a gospel music dynasty that has influenced generations of musicians. But Born For This is much more than a musical: it’s a riveting account of a man who decided early on to take the proverbial high road.
“I’ve always understood that with everything I faced — including racism and bigotry — there is a choice,” Winans reflected by phone. “I chose laughter instead of anger. I chose love instead of hate. I chose to understand instead of misunderstand.”
“People who have come to see Born For This have left with inspiration to reach for those dreams again,” Winans continued. “They’ve told me that the show reminded them that they have a purpose, that it’s not over, no matter what age or what’s happened in life.”