Nine years since CeCe Winans released her last solo album, she's back to do more than just reclaim the ears of fans who've supported her for three decades. She's ready to capture the hearts of their children, and their children's children, with a bold new sound.
In her latest offering, "Let Them Fall in Love," Winans teams up with her 32-year-old son, Alvin Love III, who wrote and produced most of the album. While fans of Winans will still find her strong vocals effortlessly belting out signature ballads like "Never Have to Be Alone," they may be surprised to hear an edgier sound in songs like "Run to Him."
Aside from the bold production that borrows from Motown, '60s pop music and even country western influences, Winans admits that her latest album may lyrically be her strongest yet. The singer told The Christian Post that she wanted to do more than just resurface with new music, she wanted to make a bold statement.
"For me to go back into the studio I wanted to make sure I had something to say. I never want to to do a record just to do a record or because it's been so long," she told CP. "I didn't want to go in again unless I felt like I had something of substance that would make noise and make an impact. I felt like this body of songs was something that would speak to people's hearts but was fun."
Songs like "Hey Devil" featuring fellow Detroit-natives The Clark Sisters serve as an example of that fun that transports listeners back to the '50s or '60s for a dance party that provides them with a blueprint to cast out the devil. In an album that plays like a film score, listeners are taken through a range of emotions that may inspire them to dance or cry out to God.
While the theatrics of the album's composition are now exciting for Winans to hear, the veteran gospel music star admits she wasn't initially on board when her son shared his vision for the project with her four years ago. When she finally accepted her son's idea to record the album, it wasn't easy for her to switch gears as a professional and let him be the boss.
"It took me awhile to get my arms around it because it was something that I hadn't done before, as far as styling. It was challenging for me saying, 'wow I got to listen to him,'" Winans told CP with a laugh. "Him saying, 'no mom, you can't do that, do it again, do it better. I was like, 'this is weird. But I tried to be a good client and a good artist, and I submitted to my producer even though he was my son."
Still, Winans calls the experience of working with her son awesome as a proud mother watching him graduate from working on a few songs with her and her brother BeBe Winans and gospel music duo Mary Mary, to masterminding her new project. Now that she's ready for the world to hear her new album, Winans admits that she's walking into some new territory.
On all of her previous projects, Winans was a singer who could focus entirely on her music. However, she and her husband, Pastor Alvin Love, have since created Nashville Life Church in Nashville, Tennessee, that is gearing up to celebrate its fifth anniversary.
While she is still figuring out how to balance upcoming touring obligations with her role as a co-pastor and first lady of the church, Winans also realizes that the landscape of music promotion and consumption has changed since her career began decades ago.
"Life has changed, especially since I've been out here as an artist," she admitted. "I was like, 'what? Social media? No!"
Winans is confident that her music will reach a new generation of fans after watching the resurgence of gospel music powerhouse and legend Pastor Shirley Caesar.
"I look at Shirley Caesar and I'm in amazement. She was on the top of the charts the other week when they redid her record," Winans gushed. "I'm like, 'what, the rap charts?' As long as she's been out here doing this, she looks amazing. Her voice is strong as ever and now she's experiencing something new, being on a chart that she never thought she would ever be on."
Watching Caesar's career helps Winans understand that there are still new experiences and opportunities to attain in her career that spans over 30 years.
"The older are still going on and still experiencing new things. That's pretty awesome," she said. "So it just let's us know that new things are always in front of you. You've never done it all."
Still, Winans isn't ignoring the contributions that millennials have made to the gospel music industry.
"I look at who's out here now and coming up. I'm blown away. Tasha Cobbs, Jonathan McReynolds, Travis Greene — I think gospel music is in great hands," she said. "You have some incredible, sincere young people out here doing what they do. When you look at that spectrum from Shirley Caesar to Tasha Cobbs, I think our industry is changing for the better."
And with her new album, Winans believes her son has helped her create a project that will appeal to all generations.
"I'm excited about the new sound that this record brings to my career and the new people that it will connect to. I'm excited to see what this round will bring," she said. "I think that it keeps getting better."
CeCe Winans "Let Them Fall In Love" is available where albums are sold now. The album features Hezekiah Walker's Love Fellowship Choir and The Clark Sisters.
For more information about Winans, click here.