Award-Winning Musician CECE WINANS Discusses “Let Them Fall In Love”, Her First Album in 9 Years and Much More!
Posted On 20 Jan 2017
Cece Winan’s new album titled “Let Them Fall In Love” will be released on February 3rd via Puresprings Gospel Label / Thirty Tigers.
This is her first record in nine years. The ten-track collection is a new, more soulful sound and was deeply inspired and shaped by her son, Alvin Love III, who co-produced the record with longtime collaborator Tommy Sims.
With a career in music that spans over 30 years, CeCe Winans has sold over five million albums in the U.S. alone; charted hit singles in multiple formats including R&B, Urban AC and Gospel; authored three books including her acclaimed memoir ‘On A Positive Note’; and acted in several television series.
In addition to her ten Grammys, she has won 20 Dove Awards, three NAACP Image Awards, and has a star on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Nashville Music City Walk of Fame. Earlier this year, CeCe accepted an invitation to be a member of the 2016 Artist Committee for the Kennedy Center Honors.
Well now that 2016 is over, what are some words that you would throw out to describe the year for you and your music and your career, really?
Well, wow. It’s been an incredible journey! First of all, I’m totally grateful when I look back and see all the incredible things that my music has allowed me to experience and all the incredible things that I’ve been told, that my music has been, what it has meant to people around the world from all walks of life. It’s pretty humbling to see that and now to get a chance to come back after, I don’t know, nine or so years. I can’t believe that much time has passed. Oh God, that’s funny to me! (Laughter)
I get another chance to share good news, to be a part of the soundtrack of people’s lives. Music is pretty powerful and I’m blessed because I get to do music that’s always uplifting, that’s encouraging and I’m excited about doing new things, you know? I’m excited about reaching new people, reconnecting with old people who have been with me for years, and then reconnecting with new ones.
You mentioned that the album that you’re gonna release next month, “Let Them Fall in Love,” is your first record in nine years. Had you kind of put away your music? You kind of thought, “Okay, I’m gonna do something else now,” you didn’t really think about coming back to it? What got you back here in this world?
I never put away my music. That’s the amazing thing about music. I’ve been doing spot dates and doing tours here and there, traveling. Not as much, but definitely enough. But I’ve been within the last four years, my husband and I started a church. Well, almost five years now.
It wasn’t something we planned, but it was a really beautiful work that started organically and it’s pretty amazing. But it definitely took all of my time. So probably, I’ve been working on, thinking about trying to get into the studio probably for four years now.
So I never thought I would never do it again, but I really was so consumed and busy. I was still doing music, like I said, flying out doing concerts here and there, but really consumed with the work of pastoring a church called Nashville Life here in Nashville, Tennessee. There’s a lot of young people, so I’m excited.
So finally I had a little bit of time to breathe. You know, we got everything in order, had a little rhythm going on at the church, how we’re doing things how we’re able to do all our responsibilities there, and now it’s like, “Okay, I think I can do it now.”
Even within these nine years I did do a record with my brother BeBe. So we put out a duet record in that nine, ten year span. So I haven’t been all the way away from it, but I haven’t had a solo record out in that time frame. So the reason why I’m finally back is that I’ve finally had a chance to say I can cut out some space and really focus on it. Cause you don’t want to put a record out just to say, “Oh, I’ve got a record out,” or, “I haven’t had one out in a long time, I need to put one out.”
It’s a process for me. What do I need to say right now? What’s going on right now? And the world has changed drastically in that time frame. So I was able to team up with my son, and he had a brilliant vision, really, for this record, and so that was weird. I had to submit to him and say, “Okay, now I’m listening to my son, boy things have changed!” So that’s where I’ve been, and now I just know it’s time.
That leads me to my next question, you know, what was it like working with Alvin, your son, and your long-time collaborator Tommy Sims?
Tommy Sims is the best. When Alvin my son, probably about four or five years ago, gave me the vision for this record, he was like, “Mom, I would love to create something that was kind of old school, but yet relevant. I know you don’t know this mom, but old stuff is like what’s cool now.” So basically, he was saying, “You’re old, you’ll fit right in.” (Laughter)
And I’m like “What?” And he was like, “Yeah, I wanted to do a vinyl record.” I’m like, “A record? What? How?” He said, “Yes, a lot of people do vinyl now.” So, he gave me this whole vision, and at first I was nervous but he said, “Trust me. It’s gonna be you, but I want to wrap it up in different styles and different things that probably you’ve never done before.” I was like, “Wait a minute.” I had one eye, you know? Like, I don’t know.
So it took a little bit to convince me. But when he convinced me, and I was like, you know what, this could be fun. I might as well come back with something fresh and new and exciting. So because this will be my son’s first time putting his hand around a whole project. He’s done some things for BeBe and myself and a few other artists here and there. I was like, “Let me call somebody who I know I trust.” Their ears, and they know me, and that knows the whole process of recording a record and that’s when I called Tommy, and I said, “Tommy, what do you think about this?” And I let him hear it. He said, “Oh my God. This is awesome.” I was like, “Really?”
Alvin was gonna think I was probably going to be tougher on him than anybody and so Tommy came in to kind of oversee and help him. Tommy ended up co-producing I think five on the album but Alvin really produced the majority of the record.
So it was probably rough for him to work with me at the beginning while he was convincing me of the whole direction of the record, because I have to be able to connect with it myself if I think I’m gonna connect to people. It was really important that I could connect with this record, and I did. And when I got it, when the light went on, I was like, “Oh, this is gonna be fun. I really like it.”
So I was probably a headache to him, a bad headache for a while, while he was trying to convince me. His words were, “Mom, just trust me.” I was like, “Alvin, absolutely not.” But once we got in the studio, I was totally ready to take whatever direction he’d given me, he wanted to give me. He worked me really hard. But I knew he had a ear and he had the vision and he knew exactly what he needed to pull out of me in order to bring the whole vision to pass. So that was fine. I mean, of course I was tripping out as he was like, “No. Do this. No, do this.” And I’m like, “What? How did this happen?”
But I was pretty impressed. I knew he was gifted, I knew he was talented, but I really didn’t know he was that gifted and that talented. I mean, he would hear things and say, “No, let’s do this,” and not even just with me, but when he was in there with the orchestra. You know, these trained incredible musicians. He would say, “Why don’t you guys try it this way?” And they would look at him like, “Huh?” And they would try it, and they would be like, “Oh my God!” So I would just sit back and say, “Wow. Okay. I didn’t know. I didn’t know.” So I was pleasantly surprised in working with him.
Clearly the music gene is in the family. You all have got it.
Yeah and as I look at not just my son but my nephews and nieces, you know, this younger generation, it’s like, wow. I think they’ve lost us. I mean, they have … It’s stronger than ever. You know? Yeah. It’s kind of weird to see.
Do you think that what drives you to make music and be in this industry has changed since you first started? I mean, like you were saying earlier, the world is a different place and the music industry itself is very different. Has that affected the way that you approach this business and the way you’ve created this album?
Yes and no. I’ve always done music. The thing that inspired me and drove me to do it really was always my faith and of course my love for music, but my faith and wanting to express it through my music. But the reason why I say, “Yes” is because being who I am now at the age I’m at now, the great thing about getting older is that you get wiser. And then when I look at the condition of the world and when I look at our industry as well, I don’t know. I believe, like I said earlier, going back in, I was like, you know what? I think it’s gotta count more than ever before, you know? It’s like, I gotta say something. I have to … I think the need and the drive and the purpose was probably stronger than ever before.
I have a song on the record entitled, “Peace from God,” and our nation has always needed peace, but I think it’s needed more now than ever.
Are there any musicians that you would still love to work with today that you haven’t gotten the chance to yet?
I’m sure there are. The person that probably comes to mind … And I’ve worked with him on some level, but I’ve never recorded with him is Stevie Wonder. I don’t know, he’s such an incredible vocalist so I don’t know if I really want to work with him. (Laughter) But it would be fun. I mean, he’s always written music that makes me smile, you know? Not only is he a great singer, but the songwriting. When they did that special for him, it was just an incredible experience to really bank on all the stuff that he’s put out. And he is so positive, so uplifting, and so amazing. So that would be one that I would love to do something with.
I can definitely hear a duet with him in your future!
You can hear it? Oh wow. That would be fun. I have to find him and tell him that. I mean, we’ve done a few things together onstage as far as just an awards show and stuff, but to be able to record with him would be fun.
My last question is at the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope that your fans and new fans, the young generation, when they listen to your songs, your new stuff on this new record, and older music, what do you hope that they’re taking away from it? What do you hope that they leave one of your shows feeling and really take away from it all?
It has everything to do with the title of this record, “Let Them Fall in Love.” I guess when I think about the faith that I have in God and my relationship with Jesus, I don’t even know how people live without it, you know? I know everybody has something different. God has given us all the free will to live our lives the way we want to. But for me, I wouldn’t have made it without it. You know? So, I’m very grateful and that’s really, I mean, in the title of this record, “Let Them Fall in Love,” I want people to hear my record and like you said, throughout the times and know that it brought them close to God, that their hearts were turned towards him, and that they found peace. That they found life, you know?
I remember probably the first letter I got as a professional singer when my music started being played on the radio, and I was pretty young at the time. I don’t know how old I was, maybe 20? Something like that. But I remember getting a letter from, I think it was a young girl, and she was thanking me for my music, and she said that, “The first time I heard your song on the radio, I was contemplating suicide, but after hearing your song, I decided to give life another try.” And now, you know, I was pretty young myself, and I was like, “Whoa!” What came along with this platform was a responsibility. I realized at that point that this is not about me just having fun, but music is pretty powerful. It is the soundtrack of people’s lives, and it can encourage somebody to do the right thing or the wrong thing. It can come in at a time when somebody’s at their weakest moment and give them comfort. Or it can just keep them going in that wrong direction, you know?
It was an awakening for me back then that I’ll never forgot. And so I just hope that when people are connected to my music, they’re connected to God.
Well, thank you so much for your time. It was a pleasure speaking with you.
You can also LISTEN to the above interview here: