The Story of The Winans Brothers
A look back at the rise of the Quartet group: The Winans


The Winans Brothers were a jubilee quartet group consisting of Marvin, Carvin, Michael, and Ronald Winans. They were all born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. They were raised by their Christian parents. Inspired by singing in their churches choir, the four brothers formed their own quartet, which paved the way for many contemporary gospel singers to follow.

Origin of Jubilee Quartets

Jubilee Quartets came after the negro spirituals and were influenced by them. A jubilee quartet typically consisted of four to six members which mostly sang a cappella.  The different types of jubilee quartets were minstrel shows, barbershops, universities, community, and shape note quartets.

Elements of Jubilee Quartets

One main element of a quartet is the four-part harmonies. Within theses harmonies, there is a lead baritone, first and second tenor, and the bass singer. When these four sounds come together, it gives us the quartet sound. Most quartets were usually a cappella. They would use their voices are instruments instead of actual ones.

The Winans Brothers

The Winans updated the sound and style of traditional black gospel vocal groups for the urban contemporary age. While they weren’t the first group to do so, they were probably the most important factor in paving the way for many urban-style gospel groups to follow. The Winans were introduced to Andrae Crouch through a mutual friend  and Crouch signed them to his Light label. The Winans debut album a wide audience which led to their follow-up albums. By their third album, The Winans had won their first grammy for the album Tomorrow for Best Soul Gospel Performance by Duo or Group. After the success of that album, The Winans then signed onto Quincy Jones label, Qwest label.

Influences on Others

The Winans quartet paved a way for many contemporary gospel singers. They influenced groups within their own families like, Daniel Vickie, BeBe & CeCe, and Angie & Debbie. Their own sons even created a group inspired by them called Winans Phase 2. 


Jubilee quartets became the more lively style of music than negro spirituals. The Winans influence shows through their family members who followed after them and continues to show through modern-day gospel music. The quartets was another genre that helps shape our modern-day African-American music and continues to have an influence on it.

Gabriana Simmons

Gabriana Simmons

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