Born Mario Brown, he is the son of gospel recording artist Vickie Winans 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.
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 Sean Combs, then known as Puff Daddy and his Bad Boy roster, playing drums on “Come with Me” by Puff Daddy and Jimmy Page, based on the classic Led Zeppelin song “Kashmir” from their 1975 album Physical Graffiti, and featured on the soundtrack to the 1998 remake of Godzilla.
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.
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”.
Mr Winans was reportedly hit with a $435,000 judgment in his tax fraud case.
He pleaded guilty to one count of failure to file taxes as part of a plea deal.
Winans was sentenced to five years probation, 500 hours of community service, and mental health treatment. He was also ordered to pay $435,000 in restitution.
However, according to Bossip, he has not paid the fines and officials at the U.S. Department of Justice have slapped him with a lien on his $1.3 million New Jersey mansion.
The lien isn’t the only financial woe for Winans – in September 2017, the singer was arrested for failing to pay over $178,000 in child support.
He was subsequently released on $10,000 bail, which went towards his child support arrears, and he was granted a week to pay the remaining $170,000. He did not make the payment and arrest warrants were issued in November and December 2017.