With millions of records sold and 10 Grammy awards, CeCe Winans is one of the most popular gospel artists of all time, but even she is at the mercy of the airlines. She and her husband, Alvin Love, were supposed to fly from their home in Nashville to Bogota, Colombia, but their initial flight was canceled, forcing them to drive to Atlanta in order to make their connecting flight. “It’s our version of planes, trains, and automobiles,” she says laughing from the car.
The Colombia trip is for a religious leadership convention as part of the Nashville church she and her husband founded several years ago. Winans had put her music career on hold to get the church off the ground, but now, she’s back with Let Them Fall In Love (out February 3 and available for pre-order now). Her first album in nearly a decade, the 10-song collection was produced by her son Alvin Love III and contains some of Winans’s finest and most eclectic work to date.
Garden & Gun is thrilled to premiere Let Them Fall In Love, a glorious testament to the power of love no matter what or who you believe in. Below, Winans talks about her son the taskmaster, the herculean task of founding a church, and limo joy-rides with her friend Whitney Houston.
You’ve said that this album is different than anything you’ve ever done. How so?
The lyrics are bolder. They line up with my faith. It’s just got a throw back, retro-type feel. There’s horns and a pedal steel guitar, instruments that I hadn’t used before. I had a ball doing it, though. Once I got it, I was like, ‘okay, I can do this.’ I think it won’t be too far out there for those who have supported me through the years. But hopefully it will bring on new listeners.
Your son was kind of hard on you during recording. Did you have to ever pull the mom card on him?
Maybe a few ‘Momma’ looks [laughs]. No, I did pretty good. I did good. I think he would say I was a good artist—once he convinced me of the whole vision. He’s a pretty awesome musician. It was kind of weird for him to tell me what to do for it. And I have to admit, it wasn’t easy all the time.
I don’t mean to ask a dumb question, but what does it take, other than hard work, to start a church? How did you build up the congregation?
I’ll give you the long story short: We weren’t planning on starting one. At all. But one Sunday, we were at a different church and this woman said a prayer and actually prophesied that one day my husband and I would become pastors. My husband was like, we will probably walk on the moon before that happens. But then my son asked us about holding a bible study for some of his friends at our home. They had an awesome time and he told some more friends and it end up being 20 young people. A few months later, they came back to do it again and this time it was like 80 people. The church was birthed out of a bible study at our home. We keep it simple: We’ll love God, we’ll love people. Now we have a small congregation, about 250 people.
You just filmed a segment for an upcoming documentary on Whitney Houston, the only one to be authorized by her estate. I imagine it was difficult.
It was no fun. But it was something that I felt like I should do.
I’ve been asked to be part of a lot of stuff before, but I never wanted to do it. This time, I talked to Nicole, who was her agent for years, and it felt like this would be something that would represent her well. They just wanted me to talk about our relationship and so I was ‘okay. It’s gonna be done right.’ I had to think it through. But I’m glad I did it.
Do you have a favorite memory of you and her together?
I have so many. Once she came to visit me and we went to the White Castle drive-thru in her limo, which was hilarious.
Oh man, what was the order?
I don’t know, she just loved White Castle. I was like, ‘girl, you are crazy.’ But, man, she could eat anything she wanted and couldn’t gain a pound. We had a limo going to White Castle, I’m like, ‘this is about right.’