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If you make a list of women at the forefront of Gospel, CeCe Winans would most likely take the number one spot. How many years has she been in Gospel? “Too many to count!” she laughs. At 46, she’s spent nearly 30 years ascending to the pinnacle of success as a wife, mother, artist, CEO of her own label; and now, minister of the Gospel and mentor to young men and women (through her annual conferences). CeCe Winans is an icon. Over the years, “I’ve seen the industry ex- pand,” she says. “[Gospel] has more listeners. When BeBe and I first came out [in the 80s], to hear a Gospel artist on a mainstream radio station was something that wasn’t nearly as common as it is these days. We’re reaching more people with the Good News.” CeCe has also found favor with corporate America. “Companies have realized that Gospel music sells and that it’s marketable, even to people who aren’t believers. We have more styles of Gospel as well. It’s being pack- aged in different ways, which is good. Part of that marketability is being capitalized upon by Verizon Wireless. For the third year, the mobile phone giant is presenting the “How Sweet the Sound” program in cities across the country. This time around, CeCe will step into the role of co-host (along with Donald Lawrence). “I think that what Verizon is doing is awesome!” she says. “They’re helping to bring our community together. Choirs come out and they sing old songs as well as new songs, and they win money; they actually leave with something tangible. “Verizon is also helping women who have been victimized by domestic abuse. Hopeline is a program that is benefiting from these events.” Although she’s been part of Gospel’s growth, CeCe is still grounded in the foundation of Gospel’s message and ministry. “Gospel is more than entertainment,” she affirms. “It uplifts; it changes lives; it unites. It’s still life-changing!”

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When it comes to lifestyle success, here’s CeCe’s Recipe

1. Prioritize your relationship with God.

When everything is said and done, it’s the only thing that matters. That keeps me when I’m on the top of the charts and when nobody’s playing my music.

2. Prioritize your relationship with your family.

Your priorities have to be straight. I understood that I was called to be a wife and mother first. I couldn’t allow anything else to become any more important than that. The enemy loves to tear up families.

3. Be Yourself! It’s not about competing with anybody else.

God has a call on your life. I’ve heard better singers than me and I’ve been a part of other things that appeared to be more important than what I was doing; but I knew that I was part of God’s plan. You’ve got to learn to appreciate what God has given you!