CeCe Winans could have made a believer of Ebenezer Scrooge at the National Church of God last night, when she serenaded the crowd in Fort Washington with a silky mix of holiday carols and praise music.
Winans opened with a soulful rendition of "Joy to the World," then ran through a medley of Christmas spirituals that had folks dancing in the aisles. Then the bass guitarist stopped thumping and the drummer calmed down to allow Winans to show off her rich alto voice with "Noel."
Lamar Campbell and Spirit of Praise did much more than launch the concert and serve as backup singers. The group shifted the mood with the heavy dose of gospel R&B in its hit "I Need Your Spirit."
But the night belonged to Winans, the six-time Grammy Award winner and member of a talented gospel clan. She has two new albums out--"Listen! It's Christmas," with crooner Johnny Mathis, and "Alabaster Box"--and her song selection last night was as varied as her frequent wardrobe changes. From elegant blue and black gowns to a sassy red pantsuit, Winans had much to offer the crowd of more than a thousand.
Winans had begun her day in New York City, singing "O Holy Night" during the taping of the Dec. 24 episode of "All My Children." The gospel diva was at her best last night with that same song, which she used to welcome the audience into a stirring praise service that crescendoed with "King of Kings."