CeCe Peniston’s look is supremely elegant, yet she exudes an accessible and warm, down-to-earth sista friend vibe. CeCe Peniston is one of those singers who not only makes good music but one whose soulful bursts make you feel the music.
And nowadays love’s on Peniston’s mind. Broken-hearted love. Soul-building love. Love that makes you wanna smile and cry at the same time. Most importantly though, self-love comes charging through on Peniston’s confident and richly diverse third album.
Four years after the springy and liberating international Top 5 smash hit “Finally” catapulted a then 21 -year-old Peniston into a dance-music diva, the Dayton Ohio native has spent most of her time trying to show the world that her throaty gospel-trained voice can do more than just rattle dance floors into a frenzy.
“People are still looking for another ‘Finally’,” Peniston says. “But I think ~ that slowly but surely people are coming around and allowing me to change because they realize that I like to do a lot of things. People want to see you change anyway. If you are the same thing then it’s nothing new for them to look forward to.”
After 1994’s warmly greeted sophomore album, THOUGHT YA KNEW, Peniston spent lots of time in the last year reshaping her earthy vocal stylings and finding her musical center. That’s why her new album, I’M MOYIN’ ON, serves as a bold statement about the new CeCe Peniston. Between getting a divorce and continually delving deeper into her R&B past, the little girl whose parents encouraged her in singing and acting has changed. The once bubbling exuberance has been refined into a sleek womanliness that is evident in the album’s lyrics and tone.
“We named the album I’M MOVIN’ ON because it says a lot about me and who I am now in 1996,” she says. “I’m moving on mentally, physically, spiritually, and musically in every way.
“Last To Know, ” a mid-tempo ballad written by Peniston, reunites her with friend and innovative producer Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley, who helped on her gold debut album. It’s also a song that’s close to the singer’s heart.
“I guess it’s personal,” she says. I think that most people have been through the experience of finding out about somebody being in another relationship while they are with you.
You always think you would be the first to know and not the last.”
Peniston’s R&B roots shine even more when Jodeci’s JoJo Hailey joins her on “Before I Lay, ” a lush ballad about dedicated love. It’s Hailey’s first duet with a female singer and a chance for Peniston to grab a slice of the hardcore R&B audience. “JoJo is more R&B and I like that,” she says about the song.
Peniston’s powerful voice, the one that can sink low into a smooth scat and then rise into a dramatic boom, could be likened to a new age Patti Labelle throughout much of the album. The funky “House Parly” and her remake of Jocelyn Brown’s tale of addictive love, “Somebody’s Else’s Guy, ” will definitely get the club crowd rallying behind their queen again.
And while far too many R&B soulstresses are filtering their tracks with hip-hop flavored beats, Peniston stuck to what she does best. “I was very careful about selecting songs,” she says. “People like to see you change, but it has to be for real. I always felt if you show that you are comfortable with what you are doing, then I think people will vibe with you. So don’t be trying to go into left field and all of a sudden start saying ‘Yo this and that.”‘
Peniston though is still adamant about being herself. Her new look reveals a slender CeCe in balance and a woman not afraid to show her B-girl essence.
Like any true artist, CeCe Peniston keeps the critics on their toes. She’s moving on. The wide-smiling diva is back, ready for new experiences and wherever the road and her music might take her.
“Don’t be afraid of change,” Peniston says passionately. “If you feel good about whatever you are doing, then hold your head up high and do it.”