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Grammy-winning gospel artist Winans comes to Hagerstown

February 29, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Check out CeCe Winans's single "Waging War" from her upcoming album, "Thy Kingdom Come."

Before winning several Grammys as a solo artist - not to mention the Grammys she won while singing with her brother, BeBe Winans - and belonging to the large musical family that helped flesh out urban gospel as a legitimate genre, CeCe Winans was attending beauty school.

"Music was something I always loved to do, but I was very comfortable being in the background," Winans said a week before her concert at The Maryand Theatre.

"I would love to be in the background today, but I know (singing) was something God has called me to do," she said.

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On Friday, Winans will share her love for music and her Christian faith, previewing a couple songs from her eighth solo album, "Thy Kingdom Come," to be released April 1 off her own label, PureSprings Gospel.

Coming from a Christian home in Detroit, where everyone in the family sang well, Winan's calling seemed obvious - singing gospel.

Four of her brothers performed as The Winans in the 1980s. Other family members went on to pursue gospel music careers.

But she said it took all of them a while to recognize the extent of their talent.

"We never thought we could sing so well," Winans said.

Before taking on a career as a gospel singer, Winans pursued other interests - like going to beauty school. But over time, she found herself getting more and more involved in music.

Perhaps she couldn't help it - music was all around her.

"Our parents' patience had to be enourmous," Winans said. "We were always banging on the piano or singing, writing songs."

Winans said, growing up, she was inflenced by Stevie Wonder - one of the few Motown artists she was allowed to listen to - and gospel artists like the the Clark Sisters and Andrae Crouch.

As she developed as an artist, she came to appreciate the musicality of gospel music, beyond the music's spiritual purpose.

Her latest album, "Purified" (2005), had a poppy feel, which some critics characterized as a bid for crossover sucess. Winans said that album wasn't an attempt at crossing over, but was instead a way to show that gospel music is good music, enjoyable for anyone, regardless of whether they are secular or die-hard churchgoers.

"I've been called some of everything," Winans said. "I just try to do music and pray that it's great. I've been a fan of different genres."

So, if she could work with any artist out there today, who would she choose?

"Josh Groban," Winans said. "I think we could do some good things together."

As for her upcoming album, which she described as more traditional, Winans collaborated with contemporary gospel's heavyweight producers - among them, Cedric and Victor Caldwell, the producers behind the music of T.D. Jakes.

She also called upon her 22-year-old son, Alvin Love III, who wrote "The Coast is Clear."

"It was funny," Winans said. "I never thought I could submit and listen to him tell me what to do."

As a wife and mother of two children - she also has a grown daughter - Winans has had to learn to balance her career with family life. Her children would often join her on tour. There was a point when she home-schooled them both.

"I had learned early on that you have to set priorities," she said. "I'm a wife and a mom first."

Her next project is a reunion album with her brother BeBe.

"We never meant for this much time to go by," Winans said. "We're in the studio right now. We're just trying to get it finished, praying we get it out in '08."




If you go ...



WHAT: Gospel singer CeCe Winans performs

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 29

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown

COST: Reserved seating, all seats. $45, adults; $20, children 11 and younger. Group discounts available.

MORE: For tickets, call The Maryland Theatre box office, 301-790-2000, or go to www.mdtheatre.org. Find out more at Winans's Web site, www.cecewinans.com.

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