With her perfect smile, pure heart and angelic voice, CeCe Winans, is indeed gospel music royalty.
Root Magazine got a chance to speak to one of my favorite artists about her time away from music, her classic Grammy® winning album Let Them Fall In Love, her new Christmas alum, Something’s Happening, being Co-Pastor with her husband Alvin, Christmas with The Winans, Greenleaf and so much more!
As told to Hasan James
Root: I haven’t spoken to you on a one on one since probably How Sweet The Sound five years ago, and I remember vividly that you and your husband Alvin, were launching Nashville Launch Church and you kinda disappeared from the music scene.
CeCe Winans: My husband and I really didn’t see it coming but this call on our life has been really amazing. It takes up all of our time for the most part, but making disciples and winning people to the Lord, makes it all worth while. You mentioned disappearing from the music scene and I hadn’t put out any music in about six or seven years because we were really focused on the church. Once we were in a good place, my son and I got in the studio and we put out the record, Let Them Fall In Love and had a little bit more time to focus on music but the church is doing well and it’s an honor and a privilege to pastor such a diverse group of millennials.
Root: It’s so funny because even when you go on the website, it’s difficult to find who the pastors are and you can tell that it is not about Alvin Love and CeCe Winans the personalities, but about souls. Speaking of Let Them Fall In Love, like all of your albums, that album was an experience and I must say, you and your son created a classic. What was it like creating with your son?
CeCe Winans: My son Alvin came to me a few years prior and told me that whenever I decided to record again that he had some great ideas. He told me that it would be a throwback feel and that it would correlate my old fans and new fans. He knew that it was going to be something special and I was reluctant at the time and didn’t really get it but once I began listening to him and recognized the blessing of generations working together, I started to get excited about it.
CeCe Winans: Yeah and once we got into the studio, it was powerful, you know? He’s always been a very talented young man, and I knew he had it in him, but he had never done a whole project before. Couple that with that fact that I had not put out new music in about eight years, I really had to just trust him.
Root: I’m glad you trusted him.
CeCe Winans: I’m glad I did too. Once I got the direction he was going in, he began to soar, you know? To witness him win two Grammy® Awards for this record that I fought him on, it just made me so excited for him. But what he represents, you know, the younger generation, you guys have great new ideas, great things that don’t fit into the regular box.
Root: I love it! Now you have this new Christmas project entitled, Something’s Happening. Is this your second or third Christmas project?
CeCe Winans: This is my second solo Christmas record and the one thing I’m most excited about is we did it with a full orchestra. It’s so beautiful.
Root: I was actually going to say how beautiful the orchestra sounds on the album and that you could very well center an entire stage play around this Christmas album. Another thing I love about it is there is a lot of original music on there. Most Christmas albums are full of covers.
CeCe Winans: I went back to my son Alvin, and I was like,“Hey, let’s do a Christmas record of the writer of the earth.” He went in and just created something that was fresh and captures all the different fields of Christmas. It reminds us of the real meaning of Christmas because when Jesus came, he changed everything. Jesus was a game changer and literally, changed the whole world forever. Of course we have the traditional songs too and we also did Feliz Navidad over and that was so much fun. So I would say it’s a mixture, half traditional and half original music.
Root: We have a mutual friend, Harry Dawkins.
CeCe Winans: Oh Lord (Laughter).
Root: Harry always has these amazing stories about when the entire Winans family get together for Christmas, there’s nothing like it. What is it like when you all get together?
CeCe Winans: Harry is the best and he fits right in with the madness. Growing up, our parents would sponsor us in Christmas concerts. There was always a lot of singing and a lot of food, but they made sure we understood that it was about Jesus. We never really got into the whole gift giving and I’m sure that had a lot to do with them having 10 kids as well, but it was a lot of fun, a lot of music, and Harry has definitely been around all of us at one time. So much fun and so much laughter when we all get together.
Root: That’s so awesome! One of my fondest memories of the Winans family was when the whole family was on Oprah during Christmas. I watched it so much that the VHS tape popped!
CeCe Winans: Yes! We had a good time with my nieces and nephews on there as well. They’re all grown up now and its pretty amazing to see. Oh yeah, I remember that.
Root: Speaking of your nieces and nephews, Your niece, Deborah Joy Winans, plays Charity Greenleaf on OWN’s hit show, Greenleaf. How proud of her are you?
CeCe Winans: Well, I’ve been proud of Joy and I’m trying to pray her off of Greenleaf (Laughter).
Root: It’s so scandalous and salacious!
CeCe Winans: Oh my goodness! I’m trying to pray off, but I’m totally proud of her and I’m proud of all of my nieces and nephews. They’re all so gifted and talented. Joy went college for acting and I always ask her “Why did you go to school for acting, you’re a born actor”.
Root: What was it like seeing parts of your life displayed on the stage play Born For This?
CeCe Winans: Going back to my niece Joy and my nephew Juan, when they sent me the tape of them singing me and BeBe’s music I was in awe. Seeing them shows God’s faithfulness to every generation. Our parents instilled it in us to live for God and to give our talents to God, and to see them sing those songs and portray us on stage was just amazing. Just like when they honored us on Black Music Honors, these artists sing our songs better than we could ever sing them. But to know that our music made an impact on people’s lives all those years shows God has been faithful.
Root: What’s next for CeCe Winans?
CeCe Winans: One of the things that I really want to do is create a residency here in Nashville because I don’t want to travel as much as I’ve traveled in the past, but I want to continue to do so. I want to work on creating a show that people will come here to see.
Root: That would be amazing!
CeCe Winans: Nashville is a growing city and we have a whole lot of conventions and visitors here throughout the year. So keeping a tight schedule as an artist and being a pastor keeps me quite busy. Thank you for talking to me today and thank you to everyone or their support of me down through the years. Keep praying for me!