A desire to do something “better and fresher” than what she’s done before led CeCe Winans to record Something’s Happening, a new holiday album whose upbeat, Motown-flavored track “It’s Christmas” is premiering exclusively below.
“It’s been a long time,” the Grammy Award-winning gospel singer, who released First Christmas in partnership with brother BeBe Winans in 1993, tells Billboard. “I just felt like I could do something that was better, something that was fresher. It was time to do a new one, and I’m pretty pleased with it. I think it’s fresh, and fun. I’m glad I did it.”
“It’s Christmas,” whose buoyant beat and soaring strings recall the Motown classics Winans grew up listening to in Detroit, is one of the album’s originals and one of Winans’ professed favorites on the album. “I think that one really has a chance to be a standard,” she says. “It’s happy, and I love the lyrics. It’s really talking about what we go through at Christmas, but it focuses mainly on the joy of it all. Sure, we’re frustrated with the long lines (at stores) and all that, but that’s just part of the celebration. Everything about that song I love.”
Winans is planning a few holiday shows to support the album and will also perform at the city of Detroit’s annual Christmas lighting ceremony on Nov. 16. She’s also filmed some videos, including clips for “It’s Christmas” and “Hark!” And she she’s still pumped up from taking part in the tribute to Aretha Franklin at this year’s American Music Awards, where she joined Gladys Knight, Mary Mary, Ledisi and others in a set that focused on Franklin’s gospel roots.
“Oh, we had a blast,” Winans says. “It was so much fun. I was so honored to be there and it was a big celebration, as I’m sure you could tell. It’s always sad to lose someone you love, someone you admire, and know that we won’t have a chance to see her again in this life anymore. But we have her music that we can always listen to, and that’s pretty awesome.”