By Robert M. Marovich
BELIEVE FOR IT
CeCe Winans’s Believe For It is the singer’s first non-holiday release in four years and her first live worship solo album. Listening to the album will lead one to consider the live recording environment as her sweet spot. Recorded in Nashville at Trinity Broadcasting Network, the album/worship service is delightfully long on melodic and heartwarming songs written and recorded by some of today’s top CCM and P&W stars and thankfully short on P&W filler.
Although “Fire” is the type of aerobic P&W piece that echoes off the walls of megachurches coast-to-coast, the single, “Never Lost,” is exactly the kind of lovely religious ballad we’ve come to expect from CeCe. The title track is yet another power P&W ballad, as is “King of Glory,” written by Todd Dulaney, which brings to mind Phil Tarver’s 2007 “Dance with Me.” At this point in the recorded service, CeCe shifts seamlessly to the hypnotic “Worthy Of It All,” which envelops a now-silent audience, caught up in contemplative prayer. “Hunger” extends the peaceful atmosphere.
‘Believe For It,’ CeCe Winans. The acoustic take of the title track of her new album, which our critic calls the best album he’s heard this year
‘No Greater,’ CeCe Winans, a song written by her son, Alvin Love III, featured on the new album, Believe For It
‘Worthy of It All,’ CeCe Winans, from her new album, Believe For It
CeCe covers “Shepherd,” recorded most effectively last year by her church collective Nashville Life Music, and one of The Journal of Gospel Music’s Best Songs of 2020. “Alabaster Box,” a Biblical allegory about prejudice, is a beloved CeCe chestnut from 1999 and she sings it with full force of emotion. “Jesus You’re Beautiful” is a sweet love message that sounds written by Andrae Crouch (actually the composer is Nathan Sabin) and builds to a crescendo before dropping to a peaceful end with an interpolation of the Sunday School favorite, “Jesus Loves Me.”
Liberally abundant in the lyrics are evocations of earthly elements to express the divine, from the fresh wind and fire of the Holy Spirit to baptism in holy water. “I Have a Savior” is another beautiful worship ballad beautifully and deftly rendered, with a CeCe-led prayer tagged onto the end. Although most of the songs have been sung by others before, “No Greater,” an extraordinarily uplifting piece written by CeCe’s son, Alvin Love III, is brand new. It ought to be edited for radio; it’s one of the most energetic endings to a gospel album in a long time.
CeCe Winans is at the apex of her vocal strength on Believe For It, the best album this reporter has heard thus far in 2021.
Bob Marovich launched the Journal of Gospel Music on the tenth anniversary of its predecessor website, The Black Gospel Blog, which he founded July 28, 2004, as the first blog to cover African American gospel music. He is a gospel music historian, author and radio host. Since 2001, he has produced “Gospel Memories,” a show featuring classic gospel, spiritual and jubilee music, as well as interviews with gospel legends. It airs Saturday mornings on Chicago’s WLUW-FM and throughout the week on several Internet and low-power FM radio stations throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Bob’s work has been published in the Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music (Routledge 2005), Encyclopedia of African American Music (Greenwood Publishing 2010), and in the ARSC Journal of the Association of Recorded Sound Collections. He has presented and participated in panel discussions on gospel music at the Gospel Music Workshop of America, National and Independent Gospel Music Association Industry Summit, Blues and the Spirit Conference at Dominican University (River Forest, Illinois), the American Library Association and the Association of Recorded Sound Collections annual convention. He lives in Chicago with his wife, author Laurel Delaney, and their two cats.
Picks: “Shepherd,” “Never Lost,” “No Greater”