On November 13th, in Washington, D.C., church choirs from the across the nation will compete to be recognized as the best singing group in the gospel community. The winners will end up receiving $50,000 and being named the best church choir in America.
This event is being hosted by one of gospel music’s most accomplished artists, CeCe Winans. A multiple-time Grammy winner, she has received awards for her various albums over the last 15 years.
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On the competition:
“I think overall they’ll just be rewarded for their hard work, their compassion, their discipline, all the work that they put in for years. A lot of these choirs have been singing for years and I think they’ll just feel a sense of an accomplishment on that day.”
Even with continuous, cultural sea changes in United States of America, Ms. Winans believes gospel music’s role has not changed. In fact, she says this event has given wide-ranging exposure to her music genre, gaining her much acclaim.
“I think gospel’s music role in the country today is the same that it’s always been. It is to encourage people all over to bring unity to our community, to bring life to dead situations. That’s just what gospel music does. It’s inspiring. It’s encouraging. It’s uplifting. It brings people together, pulls down the walls of division. I just think this platform brings a spotlight on gospel music in a way that it’s never had before.”
At the 2009 Grammy Awards, Winan’s Thy Kingdom Come received the Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album award. This music compilation went all the way to number one on the Billboard gospel charts. Many artists – in diverse areas of entertainment – only dream of being successful the way she has.
CeCe’s staying power can be credited to her belief that success comes from within.
“I’m a firm believer if it comes from the heart it’s gonna touch the heart. As long as you can continue to connect with people, then I think they’ll continue to embrace what you do. So that’s always our prayer when we go into the studio that we will be able to produce something that will touch people in ways that will inspire them and bring help.”
Outside of the gospel music world, most music enthusiasts probably know Winans for 1996 duet with Whitney Houston titled Count on Me. The song plays at the end of the movie Waiting to Exhale. CeCe says Whitney is a longtime friend and a sister that she loves.
“Whitney is a dear friend of mine. We had been friends for a while before she asked me to do that song Count on Me and it was produced by Babyface – a producer I wanted to work with. So I got a chance to work with him and Whitney at the same time. We had worked together before, but to actually due a duet with just us, it was a great experience. She’s awesome. She’s still my friend and my sister who I love very much and Count on Me is still a great song that people love to listen to and they’re still playing it. It was really a great experience and great opportunity for me.”
The music video for Count on Me portrays Ms. Houston and Ms. Winans as two close friends. So with all those years of friendship, what did she think of Whitney’s recent music comeback after sharing all her personal struggles in an interview on Oprah last year?
“Well, you know, I love her and I’m praying for her. You know, I think she understands how much so many people – how much they love her as far as the country, all of her fans and so we’re just praying for her that God will continue to touch her and continue to make her whole because she’s a very special, special person. You know, you hear the voice and the voice yes it’s like none other, it’s incredible, but the person is more incredible than the voice.”
As an aside, though she has hosting duties this weekend at a reality competition, CeCe promises you will never see her on Dancing with the Stars.
“I will never do Dancing with the Stars. First of all, I can’t dance that well anyway. But no, that’s not anything I want to do. I commend those that do it. I think they do a great job”
But, when it comes to her music legacy, Winans hopes her contributions to music will last forever in people’s minds.
You can find out more about this weekends national choir competition in Washington, D.C. on November 13th at http://www.howsweetthesound.com
CeCe’s official website is at www.cecewinans.com