CeCe Winans on Her Christian Airplay Hit ‘That’s My King,’ New Live Album: ‘We Created a Worship Service More Than a Record’

In 2021, with nearly four decades of recording under her belt, 15-time Grammy winner CeCe Winans released her first live album, Believe for It. However, with the world still reeling from COVID, she and her team were forced to shift the dynamics of making the album, recording the project in an intimate setting of about 50 people in Nashville.



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For her new album, More Than This, out April 26 via PureSprings Gospel/Fair Trade Services, Winans knew she wanted another shot at doing a live album. This time, the project was recorded at downtown Nashville venue Rocketown, with an audience of around 1,200 members.

“I wanted to experience the live audience,” Winans tells Billboard. “The last record was powerful, and God blessed it. But to hear the live audience on this one, it takes it to a whole other place for me.”

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As with her previous album, Winans sets classic worship songs alongside modern ones. On More Than This, classics such as “Sanctuary” and “Oh the Blood of Jesus” are tucked alongside modern worship fare — such as Chris Tomlin’s recent hit “Holy Forever,” Elevation Worship’s “Worthy” and Maverick City Music’s “Refiner,” as well as two songs Winans co-wrote, the title track (which features musician Todd Dulaney) and “Be Still and Know.”

Winans reunited with producer Kyle Lee, as well as co-producers Thomas Hardin, Jr. and Tyrone Jackson, for the new album. She notes that they carefully selected the dozen songs that make up the tracklist, with the intent of weaving an upbeat, joyful message throughout the project.

“We got the chance to create a worship service more than a record, a time of worship that would tie the old with the new,” Winans says. “I know a lot of people don’t listen to whole albums nowadays, but I like to create a piece of work that you can listen from the beginning to the end, and you connect that thread all the way through.”

Both performing live and performing cover songs presented its own unique challenges in the recording process of the album.

“You have to rehearse with the band and singers, and learn the songs,” says Winans, who is managed by MWS Group, which also manages CCM pioneer Michael W. Smith. “If I had my preference I would learn the songs, tour the songs, then do the record — because then you’re very familiar with the songs and the performance, you have a tight feel to it. But I went in with a lot of prayer, asking God to help me remember everything and spent a lot of time with my producer and rehearsing so that when you get in front of that live audience, you’re just able to flow with the songs.”

Music has been a mainstay for Winans’ entire life, as she began singing as part of the larger Winans family group, before CeCe joined her brother BeBe to form a duo. They released their first album, Lord Lift Us Up, in 1984. A few years later, they signed with Capitol Records and issued their 1987 project BeBe & CeCe Winans. The duo issued numerous Gospel hits such as “Lost Without You” and “I’ll Take You There” (featuring Mavis Staples), before they launched solo careers. In 1995, CeCe released the debut solo album, Alone in His Presence, which went on to be certified Platinum by the RIAA. To date, she has released 11 solo studio albums.

The title track to Believe For It brought another hit for Winans, reaching the top 10 on the Christian Airplay chart in 2021 and becoming a 12-week No. 1 on the Hot Gospel Songs chart in 2022. She followed with her rendition of Bethel Music’s “Goodness of God.” In 2023, Winans also notched other Billboard year-end accolades including top gospel artist, female; as well as top gospel song (“Goodness of God”).

Where “Believe For It” and “Goodness of God” were ballads, “That’s My King,” the current single from her new album, frames worship lyrics with a danceable groove.

“Kyle brought me this song and when I heard it, I was like, ‘This is incredible,’” Winans relates of the song, which is currently at No. 25 on the Christian Airplay chart. “It’s fun, and it’s upbeat, not just in tempo but in its message.

“I think sometimes we forget because we do associate church and God with being in a solemn assembly. He is to be reverenced, but He said in his presence, there’s fullness of joy,” she continues. “That’s not something to keep quiet, but that’s something to proclaim and to share so that other people can have hope too. And I think this song embodies all of it. ‘That’s My King’ reminds us that we have hope.”

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That joyous spirit in the song gets amplified when she performs it each night on her current The Goodness Tour, which runs through May.

“In our live show, we’ve added pompoms. I’m like, ‘This is a cheer. We got to cheer this. It’s a party,’” she explains. “It’s one of those songs that is contagious, so full of joy. It’s like cooking a good meal. You put all of the ingredients in there, then you stir it up and you get the full benefit of the flavor.”

The album closes with “In a Little While,” a song written by Winans’ son Alvin Love III.

“It’s a great, powerful message to end the album with,” Winans says. “It’s another song that makes you want to dance, is joyful. That’s one of the songs I played for Kyle because it’s been years since [Winans’ home church choir] Nashville Life recorded it, and it has an older, retro sound. That was a song that he was like, ‘I don’t know about this,’ but I was like, ‘This is one we have to do.’ That night when we recorded it, everybody was jumping around, singing, nobody wanted to leave. He came back to me and said, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re so right.”

Songs from More Than This will likely be included in the setlist when Winans brings her third annual Generations Live conference to Nashville’s Belmont University on May 10-11. The conference will feature guests Joyce Meyer, Jackie Hill Perry, Dr. Anita Phillips, Sheryl Brady, Ashley Phillips, Andrea Mellini and Nashville Life Music.

“I think last year we saw four generations of women attend,” Winans says. ‘My family will be there. I’m so grateful I still have my mom. She’s 87, and my daughter will be speaking this year. I’m so proud of her. I am looking forward to laughing. I’m looking forward to crying, to seeing generations come together.”