- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gospel singer CeCe Winans has won multiple Grammy Awards over the course of a career that began more than 20 years ago with her brother BeBe Winans.

Miss Winans’ latest album is “Purified.” On July 27 and 28, she is holding the third annual “Always Sisters,” www.alwayssisters.com, conference for girls and women ages 13 to 26 at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. This year, the conference focuses on the power of prayer, featuring musical guests, speakers and a fashion show. Miss Winans also wrote a devotional book for the conference called “Always Sisters, Becoming the Princess You Were Created To Be.”

The following are excerpts of an interview with Miss Winans:

Question: What inspired the “Always Sisters” conferences?

Answer: I wanted to take out time to pour into the next generation, to create a conference that will empower our young girls. When I started out singing and being in the public, I’ve always received mail from young people, especially young girls with questions and comments. I wanted to create a platform, where not only I could answer questions, but I could have great speakers and counselors come in and help them become successful young ladies. I think it’s really important that they realize how valuable they are.

The first thing is mainly realizing who you are and whose you are. Realizing that if God is on your side that you can make it. And He is on your side. We wanted to create a conference that would speak to them right where they are.

A lot of young girls are living with AIDS. We wanted to address that. You can still have a fulfilled life, but at the same time, stop those who are not being careful or living a life the way they should live, so they won’t even be caught in situations they don’t have to be caught in. The first year we had a young lady named Carolyn [Jenkins-]Pineda who came in. She has a book out called “Preaching With AIDS.” It’s her incredible story. She also spoke last year. Since last year, she has gone on to be with the Lord.

The first year, we had 700 girls. Last year, we had about 2,300 girls. This year we are looking for 5,000 girls. … Our plan is to probably start going all over with the conference. We have been asked to do it in Florida, California and Washington. We will probably start doing regional conferences, and Nashville will be our national conference. … Our kids really want to know what’s right. They really want to do what’s right, but you have to present it to them.

Q: When you were a girl, did you dream of singing?

A: I didn’t know I’d be doing what I’m doing. I never would have chosen this for myself. I’ve always loved to sing. I come from a whole family that sings. I always sang in the church choir. Background was fine for me. I was very afraid of being out front. My life has definitely turned into something I didn’t plan, but I found my purpose. I always had people who would pour into me and encourage me and tell me those things I needed to hear, not always what I wanted to hear. Because of that, I became the strong woman that I am. I know the importance of having mentors.

Q: How did your family shape who you are today?

A: My family gave me my foundation. It was a great foundation because of the great foundation of God’s principles. Because of that foundation and my faith, they didn’t just teach it to me. They lived it in front of me. They were examples that I needed to see. Because of my faith, I know that I can persevere. Because of my faith, I know I can speak to the mountain and it will move. I know because of my faith that if I fall down I can get back up. We all make bad decisions. We all make mistakes. A lot of people get lost and don’t know how to get back home. The important thing is to know how to get back home, know how to get back up.

Q: How did you learn how to pray?

A: I learned how to pray by seeing people pray and hearing people pray. That’s probably the greatest way to learn how to pray. When you read the Word, it talks about prayer, how to pray without ceasing and how to believe when you pray.

When you believe when you pray, you begin to expect your answers to come and walk in that. I was raised hearing my mom pray. She would pray with us before we went to school. I would wake up in the middle of the night and hear my father praying.

Of course, as a kid, you’re saying to yourself, “These people are crazy.” You don’t always get it when you’re real young, but when you start getting into situations yourself, you go back, “They said this. Let me see if this works.”

You begin to pray in your own situation and see that God really does answer prayer and that faith is not somebody’s opinion or what they thought, but it is real. You don’t realize it’s real until you start experiencing things in your own life.

A lot of people say, “I’ll be strong in my faith when I get older.” Well, tomorrow is not promised to you. The devil doesn’t wait until they get a certain age to mess kids up. … A child could experience being molested at a young age, getting their innocence being taken away from them. Our kids needs to know how to pray.

You can have a casual prayer, but the Bible tells us that the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much. Then it comes to the warfare prayer. The Bible says the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they are spiritual. Prayer is really one of our greatest weapons. You have to pray fervently sometimes. It’s not just, “Oh, God bless me today,” and walk out. You have to spend time in His presence, you have to press past yourself, your flesh, if you’re tired. You have to get into the place where you have clarity. You have to pray God’s word. It is the Holy Ghost and fire.

Prayer accomplishes certain things. Prayer changes you. Prayer changes us so that we can change things. I ask the Lord to “burn up everything in me that is not like You, everything that fights against Your will and Your way. Burn it up.” The Bible talks about being baptized in the Holy Ghost and fire. It is a metaphor in a way, but at the same time, in the spirit that is exactly what it is doing: heating up things and melting things away that are not supposed to be there.

Q: What are your upcoming projects?

A: I am working on a hymns project that should be out this fall. I am also in the studio working on a project with my brother, as BeBe and CeCe. Hopefully, it will be out next spring.