Like the classic soul that defined Motown and The Sound of Philadelphia artists of the sixties, Grammy-award winning gospel artist CeCe Winans’, “Let Them Fall in Love,” offers a wistful and refreshing merger of two genres. Using inspiration amassed from years of growing up in Detroit during the height of the Motown sound, but restricted from listening to it by parents, Winans successfully ties gospel to the distinctive sounds of soul.
CeCe Winans new album, ‘Let Them Fall in Love,’ mixes classic soul and gospel music to produce a fresh sound. (Courtesy photo)
“We lived down the street from the Four Tops, so we were very aware of all the other music. But it’s not what was allowed in our home. So, we heard it on the radio, or we heard it in school,” Winans told National Public Radio. “We knew good music when we heard it.”
Winans said both the church and the Motown sound influenced much of her career in the same manner as early contemporary gospel artists like the late Andrae Crouch, who introduced Baptist and Pentecostal arrangements into modern productions.
“People think of gospel as one way, but we found all the different styles of gospel and Christian music and don’t really feel like we missed anything,” Winans said. “When you listened to someone like Andrae Crouch, he had all the sounds, contemporary sounds.”
Each offering on “Let Them Fall in Love” showcases tightly nuanced and composed songs that run the full gamut from the fast-paced, syncopated call and response of “Hey Devil,” featuring the Clark Sisters, to “Why Me,” which evokes the sound of blue-eyed soul artist Dusty Springfield with a touch of Grand Ole Opry-style arranging.
Following a move to Nashville several years ago, Winans, whose birth name was Priscilla Marie, one of 10 children within a Holiness-Pentecostal family, began experimenting more with the contemporary sound of Christian music. For more than a decade she collaborated with brother, Benjamin “BeBe,” on several gospel works, including the 2009 “Close to You,” which garnered gospel, adult contemporary and R&B nods. Their crossover success, however, pales in comparison to this work, which secured a taping for the famed country music television show Austin City Limits.
“I think that audience was, if not 100 percent, 90 percent new ears. They’d maybe heard my name, but maybe not. But they had a good time,” Winans said. “Earlier on in my career, or when I was a lot younger, maybe it would’ve made me nervous, because at that time you’re still figuring out who you are. At this age, this is who I am. Either you’re gonna really like me or you’re not. And I’m gonna be totally free in who I am.”
In addition to showcasing the expansion of her musical skills, “Let Them Fall in Love” provided the perfect platform to continue the Winans family’s long-standing tradition of family inclusion with her son, Alvin Love, III serving as co-producer. Additionally, Love provided musical direction and wrote most of the tracks.
“It took me a while to grasp everything he was saying. Some of the style of the songs when I first heard them, I was like, ‘Whoa, I don’t know if I can do this’. But I listened and I was like, ‘this is fresh,’ and that was his point. He was like, ‘Mom, I think you can do something that’s really awesome, that’s fresh, that’s different, yet it’s not you trying to be a teenybopper,’ and when I got it, I got it and I was really excited,” she said.
“Let Them Fall in Love,” was released on Feb. 3, and is available through music streaming services and music retailers.