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BeBe Winans fondly remembers The Queen of Soul: “Aretha was hilarious to me”


Michael Caulfield/WireImageIt’s been two months since Aretha Franklin passed away, and her longtime friend BeBe Winans has many fond memories of The Queen of Soul.

Like Aretha, BeBe also grew up in Detroit, and they often recorded and performed together. BeBe remembers how Aretha always preferred working with male singers.

“Aretha loved male vocalists. She was yery iffy on female vocalists, and it was just a known thing,” BeBe tells ABC Radio, laughing. “She was just one of the….beyond [one of] the greatest singers, she was such a talent, when it came to writing, playing the piano…she was the Queen.”

The youngest brother of the famed Winans gospel music family began his recording career singing with his sister CeCe in 1984 before launching his solo career in 1997. He recalls a time when he and CeCe were about to record with Aretha and the Queen of Soul, true to her love of male vocalists, barely noticed his sister.

“Aretha was hilarious to me. One of the things that I will never forget, me and CeCe were in Detroit and Aretha stopped by the Coney Island [hot dog stand] to pick up us all some hot dogs,” BeBe remembers.

He laughs, “She saw us, she stepped back and said, ‘BeBe, Hey I bought some Coney Island. Y’all want some?’ I said, ‘ReRe, I’m not hungry.’ ‘OK. If y’all get hungry, I got this for ya,’ and then she walked by, and she came back and said, ‘Oh hi, CeCe.’” 

CeCe was among the artists who performed a tribute to Aretha on October 9 at the American Music Awards. BeBe has written an autobiographical musical, Born To This, which is scheduled to make its Broadway debut in the spring of 2019.

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