by Anitra D. Brown
That CeCe Winans’ “Let them Fall in Love” tour kicks off in New Orleans on May 31 is pure happenstance, says the best-selling, most-awarded female gospel artist of all time. But she is eager to get here.
“We’re rubbing our stomachs already,” Winans says in a phone interview with The New Orleans Tribune. “We know we’re going to have some good food. We love New Orleans.”
The anticipation of tantalizing New Orleans cuisine aside, the Gospel music recording artist is actually more anxious to simply do what “God created me to do.”
“He created me to sing. I know I’ve been anointed to worship and to lead people in worship.”
And “Let Them Fall in Love”, Winans’ first solo album in nine years is true to her passion for praise and worship music. Featuring a variety of unique stylings and sounds, it is unlike anything she has ever done before. Though working with family is nothing new for CeCe Winans, she experienced a first with her son Alvin Love III working as a producer on her latest album.
“I had to get adjusted to taking orders from him,” Winans says with a laugh. “But it was great, really great to see him soar. I’ve always known he had an ear and a passion for music. So it was great to see him do what he is gifted to do—write, sing and produce. And I don’t think I was hard to work with. I don’t think I gave him too much trouble.”
The tour is sponsored by Medi-Share, a Christian healthcare sharing program that allows believers to share each other’s medical bills. The Medi-Share program is an outreach of Christian Care Ministry and has more than 250,000 members nationwide. Since 1993, Medi-Share members have shared more than $1 billion in medical bills.
“We are honored to partner with Grammy-award winning Christian artist, CeCe Winans,” says Christian Care Ministry CEO, Ted Squires. “As the best-selling female gospel artist of all time, CeCe has touched hearts and changed lives with her soulful voice and heartfelt lyrics. What a privilege to stand beside her as she shares her heart and passion with audiences during her “Fall In Love” tour, featuring songs from her latest album.”
Though this is her first solo album since the 2008 release of “Thy Kingdom Come”, the 52-year-old Winans has kept busy. In 2009, she released “Still” with her brother BeBe Winans. And she has continued to tour throughout the years. But her biggest endeavor between her last solo album and now has been founding and co-pastoring Nashville Life Christian Church with her husband Alvin Love, II. Winans says she was supposed to be in the studio about five or six years ago to work on the album, but organizing and leading the church with her husband commanded her time and attention. By 2015, the singer says she finally felt like she had the time and space to devote to recording an album.
“So we got in the studio, we started and we got it finished,” she says.
As for the experience of co-pastoring a congregation with her husband, Winans describes it as a “big learning experience that has been both awesome and time-consuming”, adding that they have been fortunate to have a number of friends who are pastors, individuals they have been able to look to for advice and as role models.
“It is doing what God commands, really, all of us to do,” she says. “But pastoring is a totally different, truly awesome responsibility.”
And it’s one the recording artist doesn’t take lightly if the manner in which is embarking on her tour for the new album is any indication. So far, 10 dates from the end of May through mid-July have been set for the tour, including New Orleans.
“We’re going to do a little bit, and then we will add on,” she says. “And I will be back home on Sundays.”
As for the tour and the album, Gospel music fans should not be disappointed. And CeCe Winans fans will be delighted. The album’s opening song, the ballad-like “He’s Never Failed Me Yet”, which Winans has called her “personal testimony”, offers a full-bodied and timeless sound that comes to an all-out crescendo with the accompaniment of the Nashville String Machine, one of the country’s top recording orchestras.
The full Nashville String Machine is on three other tracks, including “Never Have to Be Alone” and the album’s last and title track, “Let Them Fall in Love”, which also features a choral arrangement for a sophisticated composition about introducing people to the love of God.
Track 5, “Why Me”, is written by Kris Kristofferson; and with its petal guitar and folksy sound, it is clearly the Nashville resident’s nod to the country music capital of the world. On “Run to Him”, track 2, Winans’ lead vocals command through rhythmic, soulful instrumentation and intricately arranged background vocals for a sound slightly reminiscent of a Motown girl group. “Dancing in the Spirit”, which features Hezekiah Walker’s Love Fellowship Choir has that old-time religion, downhome feel. The zealous praise and worship song is full of energy and life. “And Hey Devil!”, the album’s other song to feature the full Nashville String Machine is fast-paced, slightly bluesy, somewhat jazzy, full-throttle taunt of the devil that gets taken to the next level as Winans is joined by Gospel music’s legendary Clark Sisters, whose melodic stylings are sure to make the track a favorite of listeners. Make no mistake, Winans pulled out the big guns for her first solo project in nearly a decade.
A member of a renowned Gospel music family, CeCe Winans’ career has spanned more than 30 years. She has 10 Grammy Awards, 20 Dove Awards, and seven Stellar Awards to show for it. The Detroit native has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Nashville Music City Walk of Fame. In addition to her solo career, Winans is probably best known as one-half of the Gospel music duo BeBe & CeCe Winans, the ground-breaking brother and sister act that topped both the gospel and R&B charts with hit after hit, particularly in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In fact, BeBe & CeCe were among the first gospel artists to be marketed as a mainstream act, igniting the debate over the secularization of gospel music well before acts like Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary rose to prominence with their more secular brands of contemporary Gospel music. Certainly, this writer is one who can vividly remember listening to songs “Heaven”, “Lost with Out You”, and “Addictive Love” on the local R&B station, FM 98.5, fully aware that they were songs about God and absolutely loving it.
Winans points out that her work with her brother BeBe, who wrote many of the songs they recorded as a duo, more reflect his style; but her solo projects are her most authentic interpretations of Gospel music. The new album definitely reflects that. And the singer, who says she loves both contemporary and traditional Gospel music, indicates that she is not done. Winans says she wants to one day record an album of hymns, adding that she appreciates the dedication, loyalty and love of her fans through the years.
“I just appreciate the fans, those that have allowed my music to be the soundtrack of their lives,” she says. “I don’t take that for granted.”
CeCe Winans’ “Let Them Fall in Love Tour” starts Wednesday, May 31 with a show at the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans. For ticket information, go to www.ticketmaster.com.
For more information on the tour or the album, visit www.cecewinans.com.