Award-winning Gospel artist CeCe Winans is living a life of many firsts.
As a first-time grandparent and first-time co-pastor of the church she leads with her husband, she also recently recorded the first live album of her solo career.
CeCe, who is just as down to earth and friendly off stage as on stage, knows that life for her in this season is all about giving God her best.
“When we do what glorifies God, it blesses us,” she said, as she referenced her new album, Believe For It, which debuted late last month at No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s Gospel album charts.
As much as CeCe loves to sing, what she enjoys most is the opportunity to minister to and be in the presence of people, she said. “I love people. It’s not about singing and being out front for me.”
She expresses sincere conviction about this. “I believe the garment of praise will lift a heavy heart.”
That sentiment is what she hopes the new album will do, by lifting the hearts of her audience in the difficult times of the present moment.
Believe For It isn’t her first album to achieve major success, which might explain why she remains content in knowing that her place is to carry out the ministry assignment to which God has called her — even when obstacles occur.
She was not deterred by the setbacks of having the album postponed due to COVID-19. “I’ve always said, ‘I sing to an audience of One.’”
She laughs in recalling the challenges of recording a live album in Nashville in a socially distanced room in the middle of a global pandemic. Although she would much rather be singing to a full room, she is confident in knowing that if God called her to the assignment, it’s going to be alright.
CeCe is clear that she wants to be a person who says yes to any God-given assignment, including being a pastor, which neither she nor her husband foresaw. “My husband thought there was a greater chance in going to the moon first before pastoring a church,” she explained. They lead Nashville Life Church.
Now, however, she enjoys the role. “I’ve learned in co-pastoring that it’s not about me. I’m a professional, private person.”
CeCe grew up in Detroit in a family full of Gospel legends and recalls being suddenly showcased in front of an audience when she appeared on Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s PTL Club.
“I can remember singing on the PTL Club, and the next day, being in the grocery store and realizing the power of television,” she said.
When people worship God and experience joy in doing so, obstacles begin to move, she said.
Her upbringing in a Black American family in Detroit grounded her, she believes.
“I can’t take credit for it,” she said. When she looks back at her past and those early PTL Club days, she believes God was doing something in her life then and is continuing to work in her life now.
CeCe has a special something about her that she identifies as God’s presence. That was a needed ingredient for this pandemic-era project that is a live worship concert experience with audience participation.
“I wanted to capture God’s presence,” she said.
Believe For It is her first non-holiday project in four years. She is aware not only that quite a lot has changed for her in the last four years but also for the audience to which she sings. She is very much aware that the audience now listening and singing along has endured a lot during the COVID season.
“The answer is worship for me, in seeing myself out of any situation,” she said, explaining her belief that worship can guide people through difficult situations.
When people worship God and experience joy in doing so, obstacles begin to move, she said. “Your faith has got to stay up. God is sovereign. He’s going to pull us through this.”
Maina Mwaura is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.