When she was just seven years old, CeCe Winans heard the call of God. She stood in front of her church's congregation to sing "Fill My Cup, Lord" and felt that God wanted her to use her talent in his service. After winning eight Grammy Awards, she continues to follow that divine directive today.
The singer has come a long way from her childhood in urban Detroit. She and her husband, Alvin Love, live in a tall stone house in a gated community near Nashville. In a large room containing floor-to-ceiling windows and their grand piano, things feel a little empty—until the Loves walk in. Then things come to life.
CeCe's often-photographed smile isn't just for publicity shots; it's the real thing. The Loves laugh a lot. In fact, it's clear that joy still marks CeCe's relationship with Alvin, just as it has since she met him when she was still a teenager.
CeCe grew up harmonizing with her seven brothers and two sisters in the now-famous Winans family. Her hardworking parents made sure each child understood God's saving grace, which gave the siblings a compelling reason to sing gospel music. CeCe's oldest four brothers became the award-winning group The Winans. CeCe and her brother BeBe became a popular duo and, later, successful solo artists. And her two younger sisters are recording as well.
By the age of 17, CeCe had graduated from high school and had enrolled in beauty school. But recognizing her musical talent, Mom and Pop Winans allowed her to move with BeBe to North Carolina so they could sing on the "PTL Show." One weekend, when CeCe and BeBe were visiting in Detroit, the family went bowling with a few friends, including a new acquaintance named Alvin Love.
Alvin explains: "Ronald, CeCe's second-oldest brother, had befriended me at church because I was a baby in Christ. When you meet one of the Winanses, eventually you meet the rest. That's what happened with CeCe."
"I met Alvin while bowling," she laughs, "but we didn't even talk that night. He was cute, but my mind was on singing, not dating."
Even without talking, CeCe made a big impression on Alvin. "The next morning at church," he recalls, "CeCe walked toward me with that smile and I thought, 'She's really pretty.' A few months later her brothers coaxed me to go down to Charlotte with them to see 'PTL'."
When Alvin traveled to North Carolina, he fell like a ton of bricks.
"That weekend we all did things together," explains CeCe. "Alvin joked around like he was one of my brothers, not like someone I didn't know from Adam. For instance, we all split up to get ready for the evening. Then, when we met up, Alvin said, 'I thought you were going to get dressed up. If I knew you were going to wear that, I wouldn't have bothered to put this on.' He cracked me up. He was just himself—and I could be myself."