Oct 12, 2012
Facing the Music
Mike Winans Jr. reflects on music and mistakes
(page 1 of 2)
When you hear the name Michael Winans Jr., these days, the first thought likely isn’t that he’s a member of Detroit’s gospel music dynasty.
Last month, he was charged in federal court for operating an $8-million Ponzi scheme; it’s alleged that he bilked more than 1,000 investors after they bought phony Saudi Arabian crude oil bonds between October 2007 and September 2008.
His charge is nothing short of serious. In a U.S. district court in Detroit, his hometown—the place his aunt and uncle, BeBe and CeCe Winans and his dad and uncles, The Winans, first started making music—he was charged with wire fraud. Now, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
His lawyer, William Hatchett, says Winans plans to plead guilty and will do his best to make things right. “He’s trying to get this behind him,” Hatchett told B.L.A.C. Magazine. “He recognizes the seriousness of what happened. It’s a tragic occurrence for him and his family. He in some way will try to repay these people. He has the potential.”
Because the case is still pending, Winans, who lives in West Bloomfield, can’t comment on it, but he did chat with BLAC, just days before he was charged about his new R&B project, his family and his hope for the future.
Surprisingly, this new album isn’t gospel. Formerly a member of the Grammy-nominated group Winans Phase 2 (a group made up of himself and his first cousins, whose dad’s were all in the original gospel group), Mike Winans has branched out and has spent the last few years away from the microphone.
In 2006, he inked a deal with hip-hop impresario Sean (Diddy) Combs to write and produce for some of the biggest artists in the world, including Chris Brown, New Edition, Michelle Williams, Danity Kane, and Diddy himself.
His new solo project, My Own Genre, is out on iTunes now.
Every time someone with your last name comes out with a music project, there’s going to be some added pressure, right?
It’s a lot of pressure if you feel like you don’t have the talent to pull it off! But if you’ve got a little bit of skills, it’s not too much pressure. It’s actually more of an exciting time whenever anybody puts anything out. Of course, because my family is extremely competitive and everybody talks a little bit of trash, but I think it’s all good, especially when you’re driving to become better.
How does your last name hinder you?
I don’t know if I would use the word hindrance. I think sometimes people may type cast you or pigeonhole you as being someone who only can do music. We have a few actors and actresses in our family, starting to make their way onto the screen. When you hear about a Winans, the first thing and the only thing that people may associate you with is music. And then sometimes you’re not taken seriously in other forums where you can showcase your talent. But I would take being a Winans over being anything, because there are so many blessings and there’s favor that comes along with being born in this family.