‘It’s Christmas’: CeCe Winans touches the divine in her holiday tour
CAROL BANKS WEBER
When CeCe Winans sings, she brings heaven to earth. The multi-Grammy-winning gospel/R&B singer kicks off her Christmas Tour at the Edmonds Center for the Arts with a heartwarming holiday show, Dec. 11 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
Audiences best know her as one-half of the brother-sister gospel duo, BeBe & CeCe Winans. Together, they expertly fuse message and inspiration with smooth, soaring vocals, lush arrangements, and slick R&B grooves. In return, the world honored them with several Billboard hits, three Grammys, two NAACP Image Awards, and a host of accolades from both critics and mainstream audiences.
CeCe Winans ventured out as a solo artist in earnest in 1995, racking up her own series of hits, including “Count On Me” from the “Waiting To Exhale” soundtrack, a moving gospel/R&B duet with friend and soul sister, the late Whitney Houston.
Winans’ debut album, Alone in His Presence, went certified platinum, winning a Grammy and two Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association (GMA), one for “Female Vocalist of the Year.” Everlasting Love followed in 1998, spawning two Billboard-charting singles (“Well Alright” and “Slippin’”).
Her first holiday album since His Gift in 1998 is filled with uplifting Christmas cheer. Something’s Happening! A Christmas Album, released last year, features soulful hymns and carols, like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “O Holy Night,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and “Silent Night,” as well as five original tracks, astutely penned for broader audiences by son Alvin Love III. None more skillfully produced than the bouncy breakout single, “It’s Christmas.” This Motown-worthy tune could compel the biggest Scrooge among us to bust loose.
She’s backed by the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and a choir of angels, lending to the festive, sacred air — recording at Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall in Zagreb, Croatia.
CeCe Winans knows good music when she hears it, and she’s heard plenty growing up in Motown Detroit under the watchful eye of her gospel-loving parents. Grammy-nominated David “Pop” Winans could’ve run in the same circles as his friend Sam Cooke, but chose the road of the Lord, staying close to the church, and expecting the same of his 10 children.
Gospel’s in Winans’ blood.
But so’s good music, whether it’s in or out of the church. The beauty of this artist is her ability to absorb the best of both worlds in soul-stirring performances that will leave you filled with the holiday spirit.