Walt Disney Concert Hall has been ringing up good cheer with its “Deck the Hall” performance series, launched on December 17 with “A Chanticleer Christmas.” The 12-man Grammy-winning a cappella chorus had previously been featured; they returned to sing the classics.
The holiday series will close out on January 1 with “A Viennese New Year with Zubin.”
Between those performances: sing-alongs and performances by Dianne Reeves and CeCe Winans – the gospel singer is backed by 5 million in album sales and 12 Grammys, among other awards. Winans appeared on December 23, pulling from her Christmas album, “Something’s Happening!” She also sang “It’s Christmas,” now the title of a music video.
The Winans music legacy
Born Priscilla Marie Winans Love in Detroit, Michigan, Winans and her family (she had nine siblings) lived down the street from the Four Tops – the clan has since been wholly immersed in gospel music. Four of her brothers were discovered by Andraé Crouch; other family members soon followed suit. Winans sang her first solo at age 8 and has often collaborated with her brother BeBe.
CeCe Winans debuted a solo act in 1995, and later pared back her schedule to found Nashville Life Church with her husband.
In 1996, she sang a duet (“Count on Me”) with her friend Whitney Houston, helping her to crossover to pop. In 2012, she sang “Don’t Cry for Me” and “Jesus Loves Me” at Houston’s funeral.
“Deck the Hall” New Year’s Eve concert
Before the Deck the Hall series concludes, there’s one more concert: a New Year’s Eve performance with Tony award-winner Kristin Chenoweth. The singer and actress originated the role of Glinda in the musical Wicked (2004). Like Winans, Chenoweth sang gospel music as a girl, but in Oklahoma where she studied opera and later gravitated toward musical theater.
– Top photo: R. Daniel Foster