In life very few people can be identified on a first name basis. Among the women in this superlative class are Oprah, Mahalia, Beyoncé and CeCe. CeCe Winans that is. Yet in her case, adding the last name of Winans only intensifies the grandeur of her name.
The eighth child and the eldest of three daughters to “Mom and Pop” Winans has done well for herself. Much like another little sister of a musical dynasty called The Jacksons, CeCe, as Janet does, has her own voice. And it’s this incredible voice that has yielded many accolades such as Grammy, Stellar, and Dove awards. The songstress has just completed her eighth solo project, Thy Kingdom Come.
Recently GOSPELflava.com had the chance to chat with the woman of wonder to talk about music, faith and fame.
It’s hard to believe it has been 13 years since CeCe’s first solo project, Alone in His Presence. After being one half of the dynamic duo BeBe & CeCe Winans and spawning timeless hits as “I’m Lost Without You”, “Heaven”, and “Addictive Love” she knew that once she went solo, people would be truly listening.
Admittedly scared, she knew this was her calling. Believe it or not, being a solo act was nothing that CeCe aspired to do. Yet she and God knew different. Though parting from brother BeBe would prove to be a bittersweet venture, she followed God’s lead. It was in the amicable separation that CeCe was able to hear what her own voice sound like.
“Being a solo artist made me express more of who I am,” says CeCe. “My only goal [in her initial project] was to grow as a person, become stronger as a woman of God and express what God wanted me to say.” After her debut project’s release and overwhelming success, it bonafided her as a solo artist. This would be a foretaste of the continued goodness that would come her way.
Now eight albums later and on her own record label, Pure Springs Gospel, we arrive at CeCe’s current project, Thy Kingdom Come. As with each of her previous releases, CeCe wanted to express what God was trying to say through her.
Billed as a “celebration of the heart, soul and the spirit of gospel music,” Thy Kingdom Come delivers. The first single “Thy Will Be Done”, a worshipful song of surrender joyfully displayed CeCe’s current sojourn in God’s presence. This was followed up with the anthem, “Waging War”. When asked about why such a battle-cry song to rally the Christian saints she responds, “Once I heard, I said that’s it! That’s what we’re in, it’s who we are, what they are experiencing. Though we win, we still have to fight. We have to fight for our family. We have to fight for our friends. We have to fight for our churches and we have to fight for our communities. We can’t allow the enemy to reek havoc on our lives.”
With songs like “Thy Will Be Done” and “Waging War” setting the tone, CeCe says this project is “all about an attitude. It’s about putting fire in the kingdom to tell them to wake up and not be scared.”
To ensure listeners received God’s message of empowerment, CeCe wrote or co-wrote 8 of the 14 songs. Others enlisted in this songwriter’s army include industry vets Tommy Sims, Percy Bady, Cedric & Victor Caldwell. CeCe mobilized gospel music newest additions Christopher Capehart and his production partner Brannon Tunie to lend a helping hand. Even CeCe’s son, Alvin Love III has his named listed among the songwriter credits with his song “The Coast Is Clear”.
As many artists do when asked what is your favorite song on your project, Winans coyly says, “all of them.” Yet she says she has a particular liking to “You’re the One” she co-wrote with Luther “Mano” Hanes.
Still if it’s one word that describes the ministry of CeCe Winans it has to the word, consistent. Starting out with BeBe most people coined her as being just a contemporary gospel artist. Then once she became a solo artist, she was able of showcase her versatility. CeCe’s vocal gifting that afforded her the ability to switch it up with different styles of gospel, from traditional to praise and worship. She attributes this likeability brand to is simply “being who you are. Number one, I think people see who I am. Two, I’ve been doing this for a long time, so they trust me now. And three, they know what my lifestyle stands for.” Though every project is different, CeCe is still able to maintain her signature with epitomizes worshipper.
It’s this quality-brand that has benefited CeCe outside of the music biz as well. Some of her other credits outside of singer and songwriter include actress (Touched By an Angel, Living Single, Martin), talk show host (Praise the Lord), and author (On a Positive Note, Throne Room, Always Sisters).
Therefore one would wonder, what is next for the multi-talented artist? “I don’t know,” her resounding reply. “I thank God for every open door and every closed one. Because each is a part of my journey. But I just want to do what God wants me to do.”
Specifically CeCe is setting a good part of her energies into her young girl’s conference, Always Sisters, now in its fourth year. “I cannot believe how this conference has taken off.” The conference that once hosted hundreds has now swelled into the thousands. “I want to be able to pour into the next generation. You just would not believe some of the issues these young girls face.” Among them she detailed are peer pressure, lesbianism, and gangs. Though it’s hard to imagine, CeCe says speaking is not something that she likes to do. As many would think it would be just as easy to stand before a crowd to sing, speaking would be the same. Still CeCe professes its not but she does it anyway. Why? “I will do it because God asked me to” she humbly responses.
It’s this humble spirit that has always resided within CeCe, since her upbringing in Detroit. She adamantly claims that she is indeed one of the “normal” people and unscaved by her success.
“I like having my sweats on. When I don’t have to, I don’t wear make-up” she jokingly says. Continuing with her adoration for life basics, “I just enjoy laughing, hanging with my kids, and fellowshipping with the saints.”
Activities that she partakes in during her off time are bowling, putt-putt and lounging around the house. Many would be surprised to know among her list of favorite things include the TV game show Family Feud, a good helping of macaroni and cheese and get this, the store-brand granola cereal. “I like that better than the name brand.”
In the end, after all the awards, the CDs, the concerts and success, CeCe Winans is just a woman who loves God. She enjoys the simple things in life like her quiet moments, family, and friends. Regardless of what her life has afforded her, she brilliantly proves that faith and fame can coexist but it must be wrapped in humility. It’s all about remembering who and whose you are. “Remain who you are. Be free, be happy in who you are and success will come.” Though she is Priscilla Winans Love. She is not a superstar. She’s just CeCe!
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