Picks and Pans Review: Love & Freedom

updated 09/25/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/25/2000 01:00AM

BeBe (Motown)

With the recent crossover successes of such contemporary gospel acts as Yolanda Adams, Mary Mary and Fred Hammond & Radical for Christ, BeBe Winans (now called simply BeBe) must be feeling mighty proud. As a member of the first family of gospel, he, along with sister CeCe Winans, accomplished the small miracle of getting sacred music played on R&B radio. But on this, his second solo album, BeBe has turned from the spiritual to the secular with less than uplifting results.

Like many of today's big R&B releases, Love & Freedom rolls out the guest stars on several tracks, including Brian McKnight and Joe on "Coming Back Home" and Stephanie Mills on "Everyday." But only Stevie Wonder inspires BeBe to greater heights, on a rousing version of Wonder's "Jesus Children of America" (from his brilliant 1973 opus Innervisions). Not surprisingly, BeBe delivers his most righteous solo vocal on a cover of gospel singer Donnie McClurkin's "Stand," which takes him right back to the choir pew, where BeBe shines brightest.

Bottom Line: His spirit isn't in it

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