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The seventh of twelve children, Winans was born in Detroit, Michigan to Mattie A.Bowman, a housewife, and Aaron Bowman, who worked at various times as a laborer, contractor, carpenter and mason. The stress of the divorce caused her to develop ulcers on her esophagus, diabetes and to gain weight.She began singing in church – the International Gospel Center – at the age of eight, and as a teenager she sang with a group known as the International Sounds of Deliverance. Eventually, Winans regained her health and re-energized her career.Her siblings include Beverly Bouldes, Sandi Tyler, Irma Crockett, Annette Tharpe, Aaron Bowman, Jr. It was her marriage to Marvin that led Winans to consider a career in music.(deceased), Carleen Riley, Cathy Williams, In June 1978, she married Marvin Winans of the gospel group The Winans. She was asked to, and joined, Winans Part II, a group that included then in-laws Be Be and Ce Ce Winans and brother Daniel Winans.However, the group never took off as Be Be and Ce Ce left to join the PTL Singers of the long-running Christian television show, The PTL Club.The Winans became the best selling act on their record label, Light Records, and this enabled husband Marvin to secure her a recording contract.Her solo album, Be Encouraged was released in 1987 and became a major gospel hit.
Her follow-up album, Total Victory was markedly less successful, due in part to the financial floundering of Light Records after its flagship group, The Winans, left to join Quincy Jones' Qwest Records.
In 1990, Winans signed, not to a gospel recording company but to Geffen Records.
Geffen was bought by Universal Records and Winan's contract was shifted to sister label MCA Records.
Dealing with a company that hadn't signed her, she found herself being subtly pushed to tone down the Christian message in her music.
"They don't tell you, but you get the vibe," she said in 1999.