Mario Mendell Winans (born August 29, 1974) is an R&B producer, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist best known for his 2004 song "I Don't Wanna Know", which reached number 2 in the United States and number 1 in the United Kingdom. Winans also won a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance for co-writing CeCe Winans's song "Pray".
Born Mario Brown, he is the son of gospel recording artist Vickie Winans (née Bowman) and her first husband, Bishop Ronald Brown. He is also the stepson of his mother's second husband, gospel singer, Pastor Marvin Winans whom she married in 1978. Marvin and Vickie Winans had twos sons, Josiah Winans, and Marvin Winans Jr. Vickie and Marvin Winans divorced in 1995 and she has since remarried.
Mario Winans began learning piano, keyboards, and drums while still in grade school in Detroit and learned how to work in a recording studio at an early age. He began producing gospel music professionally after graduating high school, eventually working with gospel music artists Fred Hammond, The Clark Sisters and various members of the Winans gospel music family. But unlike the rest of his family who stuck with gospel, Mario also delved into secular music.
Story of My Heart (1995–97)
In the mid-1990s, Mario was signed to a production deal with Dallas Austin's Rowdy Records thru producers Tim & Bob. He lived with the duo at their house studio until his breakthrough came as a Christian songwriter, musician and co-producer on R. Kelly's "I Can't Sleep Baby" and "You Remind Me of Something" (plus three more songs) from the R. Kelly album in 1995. He also worked with Pebbles and 98 Degrees.
Winans eventually released his debut album Story of My Heart on Motown in 1997. While the song "Don't Know" reached the US R&B top 50, the album failed to chart.
Soon after, Winans teamed up with P. Diddy and his Bad Boy roster, playing drums on "Come with Me" by Diddy and Jimmy Page, based on the classic Led Zeppelin song "Kashmir" from their 1975 album Physical Graffiti.
Over the next several years Winans produced songs for Bad Boy artists including Diddy, The Notorious B.I.G., Lil' Kim, Faith Evans, Loon, Black Rob, and 112. He has also worked with notable artists outside Bad Boy including Destiny's Child, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Tamia, Eminem and Brian McKnight.
Winans co-wrote the two-part song "I Need a Girl" with P. Diddy and appeared on "Pt. 2" along with Loon, Ginuwine, and Diddy, which became a hit recording in 2002. He also produced the Bad Boy remix compilation We Invented the Remix in 2002.
Hurt No More (2001–05)
Winans recorded his second album Hurt No More in 2001, 2002, and 2003 in between working with other artists. The album is based on stories of love and betrayal.
The first single "I Don't Wanna Know" was based on a sample of the Fugees' 1996 hit single "Ready or Not", which itself was based on a slowed-down sample of the instrumental track "Boadicea" by Enya from her 1987 self-titled album. Enya and her representatives became angry when Winans did not seek her approval for the sample, as he was unaware that the Fugees sample he had used had itself been a sample. So, a compromise was reached to credit the single as "Mario Winans featuring P. Diddy and Enya". The song features a rap by P. Diddy. The song was released as the single in early 2004 and became a worldwide hit, reaching number 1 in Germany and the United Kingdom and on the rhythmic top 40 radio chart in the United States; to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the US R&B/Hip-Hop singles chart; and to number 3 on both the Australian and Norwegian singles charts. It also reached the top ten on a composite European singles chart.
Hurt No More was released on April 20, 2004 in the US and by early June 2004 had reached number 1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, number 2 on the Billboard 200, and number 3 on the UK Albums Chart.
The album's second single, "Never Really Was", used a sample of the orchestrated beginning of Madonna's 1986 hit, "Papa Don't Preach", as its background music. However, the song failed to chart in America. A remix version was released as a single featuring rapper Lil Flip.
The song "This Is the Thanks I Get" was stated to be the album's third and final single but no official release was set. The song went on to peak on the Billboard Bubbling Under R&B chart at number 12.
My Purpose (2006)
Winans appeared on Diddy's album, Press Play producing, writing and singing on "Through the Pain (She Told Me)" and the hit single "Last Night" with Keyshia Cole. "Last Night" was originally intended for his own album, which he had apparently been recording for release in 2007, but this never occurred.
In 2010, Winans also executive produced Diddy's Dirty Money album Last Train to Paris and Trey Songz' 2010 single "Can't Be Friends", which topped the American R&B chart for over 10 weeks.
In 2014, Winans was said to be working on another solo album, as well as overseeing his label Love Legacy.
List of studio albums, with selected chart positions
Peak chart positions
Story of My Heart
Released: June 24, 1997
Formats: CD, LP, cassette
Hurt No More
Released: April 20, 2004
Label: Bad Boy
List of singles as lead artist, with selected chart positions and certifications, showing year released and album name
Peak chart positions
Story of My Heart
"I Don't Wanna Know" (featuring Enya and P. Diddy)