CeCe Peniston rose to fame in 1991 when her hit single “Finally” peaked at #1 on the Billboard Top 100, going on to becoming one of the most seminal dance music songs in history. Winning numerous awards by the end of 1993, and scoring five major number one hits within three years, Peniston was named the Number #1 Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play artist in the world.
In addition to her amazing career in music, Peniston is also branching out into speaking and acting, and is sure to be a force to be reckoned with as she is a superstar in all she pursues. I had a chance to sit down with CeCe and talk about her illustrious career:
Looking back to the beginning of your singing career, what inspired you to become part of the entertainment industry?
It was the fact that I felt at home on stage whenever I sang. FYI, my singing debut took place when I was eleven years old. I did my first show, “H.M.S. Pinafore,” where I played the part of Buttercup….I knew this is where I was supposed to be, and this was the beginning of my singing career.
“Finally” is one of the most famous, anthemic songs in the history of music, how did you come to record it?
I came to record it after doing background vocals for A&M artist Overweight Pooch, and that is where on a song called “I Like it” that the signature CeCe Peniston adlib came to life. I also worked on a song called “Give It All You Got” by Marvelous JC, and doing those two songs are what led to me doing the song that we all now know as the global anthem “Finally.”
What have been your biggest challenges in the music world?
The biggest challenges have come from me originally releasing music in 1991, where we had a publicist, record company, record deals and artists really got signed to labels. MTV and VH1 were actually video channels and it was more impressionable and considered really cool to have an air of mystique, where people did not know who you were personally.
Now it is more in fashion and impressionable to have people want to know who you are, or they don’t want to know who you are, which means being vulnerable in social media and your private life. Instead of record deals there is streaming and reality shows….10 million downloads used to mean 10 million dollars, there is not a lot of money to be made from streaming. Royalties are almost null and void for many artists, which make them have to work that much harder.
What have been your finest hours in the music world?
My finest hours have and still are traveling the world. Since 1991 I have been in a whirlwind, and it has been and is amazing. I am constantly gaining more wisdom of who I am as an artist, and I love being on this journey. I have had the wonderful experience of performing for Pope John Paul, at the inauguration of Bill Clinton, I was the first artist in history to perform in Africa after Apartheid, and I performed for the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. I have been fortunate to sing on the biggest stages with the finest artists in the world. I performed at Woodstock with Thelma Houston, Phoebe Snow, Lois Walden and Mavis Staples. The Wendy Williams show used “Finally” for the theme song of Season 9 for 9 weeks, and I was the first performer of the new season. I have been really blessed in my career, have the greatest fans on the planet and continue to pursue my goals in entertainment.
What do you enjoy most about performing live?
I love to perform live. It is such a rush to look out in the audience and see a whirlwind of people in the crowd singing the songs that I helped create along with me. For that instant in time the audience forgets everything and just has a great time, and that is a blessing for me.
When you perform live it is in real time. You get to see how the audience feels and reacts to what you are doing. You can perform the same song different ways each time you sing it. The energy in the audience dictates how the moment will go, and many times the moment is incredible and comes out in an unexpected way.
What is the greatest lesson you learned from your parents?
I learned so many things from my parents. I think one of the most important lessons is to treat people like you want to be treated. I am always aware of this and have always kept to this notion. The world would be so wonderful if everyone worked on being good folks. I am always intentional with who I am.
I understand you’re into fitness as well, can you talk about that a little bit?
Yes I am…. I work hard at taking care of myself both mentally and physically. Here is a fun little story. I went to a naturopathic doctor and she told me that I have food allergies to beans, crab and some other foods I love to eat. I have to cut them out of my diet. I am also allergic to eggs, but I can eat duck eggs. It was an eye-opening experience. I work-out regularly, and when I am on stage performing in high heels and kicking my leg up high in the air while singing is the biggest work-out of all.
Aside from still touring the world are you working on any new projects at the moment?
Yes I am ….I have many. I have been working in the studio with the incredible artist Samira along with D Jay Steel and Maurice Goodrich on a new song called “Dance,” and I have a new song coming out on Sony called “City Lights.” I worked with B. Howard on a brand new song who in turn introduced me to Vick Martin who is also known as the Billboard Killer.
I am also working on a new reality show coming to a city near you with live music and new songs. I have completed two movies and am working on a third one, and am participating in a women’s empowerment event with Tory Burch as well as doing more events as a public speaker.
Lots of great things coming shortly.
Knowing what you do now what advice would you give to baby CeCe?
Make sure to be involved in your business. This is very important. When I began my career, I let my manager handle my business, and as an artist it is necessary to be involved in all aspects of everything you are doing.
It is also important to network with people wherever you go. You will meet friends that last forever.
What can we look forward to from CeCe Peniston in 2020 and beyond?
There is so much coming…. acting, speaking engagements, live concerts, new music and more. Make sure to watch my social media accounts or go to my website for keep up to date.
Tell us how you felt when you were asked to sing for Aretha Franklin‘s birthday party?
It was a surreal moment in my career. Totally epic. I have always love her music, and when Tito Puente and I were performing my song “I’m Not Over You,” Aretha Franklin got up and started dancing. It was such an amazing experience. After that I was invited back for several other events.
Many want to say that writing songs are kind of therapy for them. You write poetry about your life, what inspired you to do that?
You know what, it just came out of me. I felt like I needed a way for people to understand how I felt both mentally and spiritually, and it worked.
The official website for CeCe Peniston may be found at https://www.cecepeniston.com
Follow CeCe Peniston on Instagram @cecepeniston and on Twitter @CeCe_Peniston