Book Review — Believe For It: Passing On Faith To The Next Generation by CeCe Winans

By Michael P Coleman

Throughout CeCe Winans’ engaging, thoughtful, albeit somewhat predictable new memoir, Believe For It: Passing On Faith To The Next Generation, the gospel legend continues a career that’s held “truth in advertising” as a hallmark.

Since beginning her professional singing career in the early 1980s, Winans has been steadfast in her faith. Independent of the musical genre to which she lended her powerful pipes — contemporary gospel, R & B, praise and worship, traditional gospel, Christmas music, even the throwback, Grammy Award-winning Let Them Fall In Love (let alone her most recent recording, for which this latest book is named), Winans has been so consistent that you kinda know where she’s going to go with a project, especially when she tells you in its title. These days, at 58 years old, Winans is much more interested in showing the young ‘uns how to walk in Christ than following the fads of the day.

Even the books’ dedication is a “spoiler” or sorts: it’s dedicated to her mom, Delores Winans: “Thank you for being a perfect pattern to model my life after.” After reading about her mom, you’ll realize that the apple didn’t fall far from the Winans tree. With Believe For It, CeCe is following in her mom’s footsteps, and encouraging younger generations to follow her.

It’s a message that might seem heavy handed if it had been delivered by someone who has not spent her life practicing what she preaches. But for over 40 years, Winans has led by example. If you’ve followed her career, you know that independent of her platform, she’s always the same person. Unlike other gospel artists (some of whom are closer to CeCe than others), it didn’t matter whether she was yucking it up on The Arsenio Hall Show or proselytizing on The 700 Club, CeCe Winans always gave it to you straight, and most often, her message was straight out of the scriptures.

When I think of her delivery of her message, be it via spoken word or in song, I’m led to paraphrase a time-worn idiom: if you can’t stand the heat, get out of CeCe Winans’ kitchen. Believe For It continues in that tradition, delivering a straight between the eyes, no holes barred message that’s anything but ambiguous.

Fans will love the new book (and CeCe’s first in over 10 years), as it intersperses Winans’ counsel for passing on faith to younger people with stories of her growing up eighth of 10 children in Detroit, in a family that would go on to become a gospel music dynasty. Most moving for this writer was Winans’ recollections of her relationship with her late brother Ronald, who died at a far-too-early age of 48, of heart complications. She movingly recalls Ron playing with her and her dolls, and allowing her to put barrettes in his hair. It was stirring and very emotional to revisit her older brother’s death from Winans’ perspective, and read of a time in her life when even she questioned her faith.

“Ronald was the first of our family members to graduate to heaven, and our hearts were broken,” Winans writes in the new book. “Losing him was the most difficult thing I’ve ever endured, the closest I’ve come to having my spirit crushed. Though I never considered giving up my faith, my faith was tested.”

If CeCe can be shaken, so can any of us.

But as any true believer will do, she picked herself up from that and other challenges. Today, she stands as an example of a saint with a paramount mission, and one that’s reflective of one of my favorite scriptures:

“Train up a child in the way he should go / And when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

CeCe Winans believes we should all take that scripture to heart, and help our young people develop skills that will help them navigate life’s peaks and valleys. She’s told us how to do that via this new book, which also includes helpful workbook exercises at the end of each chapter.

Overall, Believe For It: Passing On Faith To The Next Generation is a great, quick summer read that’s best digested before the storm clouds gather. The tools Winans suggests collectively form a beacon that will see you through — just like the best of the 15 Grammy winner’s music.

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