CeCe Winans. Contributed by World Vision
Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

Gospel artist CeCe Winans hopes charity brings hope

Legendary gospel artist CeCe Winans can’t recall when she first joined forces with World Vision. Their partnership, she does know, has spanned “many, many years.” As an ambassador to the global Christian humanitarian organization which dates back to the 1950s, Winans shares their mission to serve those less fortunate with an eye on permanently eliminating poverty. Traveling with World Vision early in their partnership to “feel and experience and see them in action … was life changing for me,” Winans shared via phone during a brief Atlanta visit. 

“I saw people suffer in ways that I’ve never seen before,” she shared of that trip to Ethiopia. Not only did it make her more grateful to God for the many beautiful things in her own life, it also made her more dedicated to World Vision and helping others.

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“To see World Vision on the ground bringing hope to all of these families, blessing them with food and clothing and water and education and, not just giving them a short-term solution, but a long-term solution to poverty, it was just really amazing,” she continued.

“You hear the phrase, ‘little becomes much when you place it in the Master’s hands,’ and it’s amazing that, when we begin to give a little of what we have and what we’re used to spending on things that really don’t matter, when you give a little, you really can save lives.”

CeCe Winans is coming to the Kuss Auditorium on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributing Writer

And Christmas is one of the seasons the nonprofit makes its biggest splash, namely due to its popular gift catalog. But this catalog isn’t filled with the latest electronics or clothing trends. Instead it allows people to share goodwill by providing life essentials to so many living in poverty across the globe. So instead of Gucci, for instance, you can gift a child in Zambia with a goat for less than $100.

“If you purchase a goat, a goat gives at least 16 cups of milk daily,” Winans explained. “Alpacas, you can purchase one of those, and they supply and produce strong and warm wool for the communities. So, it’s just so many different ways that you can give. They have gifts going from $16 to $50,[000]. You can go to WorldVision.org and do that. I just want people to understand that this is really what Christmas is all about, and, whenever you’re a blessing to people, it comes back to you.”

Sharing God’s grace is in Winans’ DNA. Her parents, Delores “Mom” Winans and David “Pop” Winans met and married in the early 1950s while members of the Lemon Gospel Chorus in Detroit. To support the family that would eventually include 10 children and earn the distinction as “the first family of contemporary gospel,” Pop put his music on hold and worked several jobs to help feed his family’s music potential. In the early 1980s, The Winans, the quartet comprised of brothers Ronald, Michael and twins Carvin and Marvin, broke through in contemporary gospel, becoming stars.

On the heels of that success, CeCe and BeBe emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s, scoring big with the hits “Lost Without You,” “Heaven” and “Addictive Love,” which topped the gospel and R&B charts. In 1995, CeCe launched her very successful solo career with the album, “Alone in His Presence.” To date, she has won 12 Grammys and sold more than 12 million albums and counting. Her most recent album, “Something’s Happening: A Christmas Album,” released last year, is nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary Gospel Album and features lush, musical arrangements of some familiar tunes as well as several new ones written by her son, Alvin Love III.

Bebe and Cece Winans, two of gospel music’s biggest stars, are in East Point shooting at the Gospel Music Channel studio for a special Wednesday, Sep 9, 2009. Photo: Elissa Eubanks/ eeubanks@ajc.com
Photo: For the AJC

It’s that platform that the star, who has lived in Nashville for over 30 years where she now ministers at Nashville Life Christian Church with her husband, Alvin Love II, uses to help others. And she urges more to follow her lead. “No matter how big, no matter how small, I just really want to make this a special Christmas for those kids,” she said. “I need all the people who are listening to help me do that this year.”

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