Saints and ain’ts, this Easter Sunday was something special.
While some of y’all were out here bad—Jesus hadn’t even resurrected yet and Coachella was already riddled with skin and sin—and Kyrie Irving was out here using sign language to spread heresy, the rest of us were tuned into Verzuz, watching the sanctified showdown between gospel siblings Mary Mary and the incomparable BeBe and CeCe Winans. And while this highly-anticipated matchup had no shortage of memorable moments—or church hats—here are five times I shook my tambourine, church stomped for the culture, and caught the Holy Ghost.
It’s not exactly a secret that Benjamin and Priscilla are two of the coldest vocalists in the history of ever, but while Reverend Deacon Pastor BeBe has always lived up to his undisputed status as Johnny Gill’s variant from the Marvel Cinematic Universe—attacking the mic with vigor and reckless abandon—it’s CeCe who always balanced out his vocal elbow drops and German Suplexes with finesse. And while the award-winning duo played with my emotions throughout the night with 30-second teases of some of their biggest hits—even Lucifer would never think to be that cruel—every single time CeCe belted out a note, I was in literal awe at her tone.
Yes, Brandy is considered the vocal bible, but let’s not forget how her predecessor gave us the blueprint on how to send tears streaming down everyone’s faces. Can’t nobody punch us in the gut and emote like CeCe Winans.
I said what I said.
Give her her flowers—now.
As if “Lost Without You” from 1988’s Heaven wasn’t already one of the greatest songs ever recorded, none of us were ready for Erica Campell’s super-producer husband, Warryn “Baby Dubb” Campbell, to hop on the keys as the song transitioned into an impromptu alter call with Mary Mary, Deborah Joy Winans, and singer-songwriter Juan Winans hopping on stage to deliver a generous offering of rich background vocals.
“I’m really enjoying being BeBe and CeCe Winans’ background singer,” Tina Campbell joked afterward.
Oh, trust and believe, we were too.
Thanks to copyright issues, apparently the stream cut out for those poor unfortunate souls who were attending Verzuz’s Resurrection Day service on YouTube. Sadly, that meant thousands of wayward souls missed out on Mary Mary’s soul-stirring rendition of 2005’s classic “Yesterday.” Thankfully, DJ Mal-Ski, who I never in life want to hear beatbox again, informed everyone of the gaffe and asked the Campbell sisters to run it back—which they happily obliged since it gave them a second opportunity to do this:
See that astounded individual in the audience rocking the newsboy hat and white jacket? That’s singer-songwriter Major, whose face was all of ours watching from home.
Okay, so maybe I should’ve got tickets so I could’ve witnessed that absurd display of vocal power in person.
Yes, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is kind of a big deal, but we all know 1991’s “Addictive Love” is the true Black national anthem. Written by our favorite siblings, BeBe and CeCe, with a little help from producer-songwriter Keith Thomas, it spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B charts and is considered one of the precursors to all things urban contemporary gospel that we know and love today. It’s also a quintessential bop; so trust and believe I jumped off my couch and wailed into my karaoke mic (feel free to get on my level here) as soon as those familiar opening chords rained down from the heavens.
I waited my entire life to hear this live and it finally—finally—happened. Dreams really do come true, y’all.
As if this Verzuz couldn’t be any more epic, since apparently the Easter Bunny was preoccupied with indigestion from too many jellybeans, Mr. Stevland Hardaway Morris—that’s Stevie Wonder to you regular folks—was kind enough to give us some parting words to send us off right. (Bonus points to whoever put a mask on Stevie. Because if he caught COVID, I’m swinging on everybody.)
“There is no better way to wake the world up to where and what we need to do,” the R&B legend told the crowd. “For those of you who choose to hate, for those of you who choose to not make sure that everyone has voting rights, for those of you that take 1,200 years to sign an anti-lynching law…God has made a promise to us that he will fulfill. But America, you have so much possibility. Grow up and get the job done.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a mic drop.
Much love to Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, host KevOnStage, and the rest of the Verzuz squad for personally ensuring that this Resurrection Day was one for the record books. We are all witnesses.