Massively popular black gospel vocalist BeBe Winans followed up his first two solo albums with a live album, BeBe Live and Up Close, released in 2002. The album features several songs that don't appear on Winans' solo albums, including the album-opening "Do You Know Him" as well as other songs like "I Believe," "Love Thing," and "Humpty Dumpty." These songs make BeBe Live and Up Close somewhat more than just another live album. While most live albums tend to have a function similar to best-ofs, this one features few of Winans' best-known songs in favor of previously unreleased songs. Therefore, ardent fans should consider treating BeBe Live and Up Close just like another studio album, since many of the featured songs are exclusive to this album. However, there are some of Winans' more popular songs here, such as the 15-minute medley featuring Debra Winans Lowe, BeBe's sister. The medley includes four songs from BeBe's days with CeCe: "Heaven," "Meantime," "Celebrate New Life," and "Lost Without You." In addition, BeBe Live and Up Close ends climactically when Stephanie Mills joins Winans for a performance of "Born for This." Overall, this isn't the career-spanning best-of live performance that you might expect from someone with as much success as Winans, but rather it's a mixed bag, featuring new songs as well as old songs but not too many popular songs, leaving room instead for the less familiar material.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
feat: Margaret Byars
feat: Debra Winans
feat: Stephanie Mills