CeCe Winans
Alabaster Box

There is no question that Cece Winans possesses one of the great voices in recording artistry. In her first release on her own label, Wellspring Gospel, CeCe lends that voice to the praise and worship music that we all love to hear. She describes Alabaster Box as a sequel to her debut solo effort and Grammy award-winning Alone In His Presence. In a Alabaster Box CDcollection of music that can translate from the concert hall to the church house, there are songs for meditation and for high-energy worship.

“King of Kings”, is a bouncy, congregational praise song, mostly in unison, that shouts the sovereignty of our Savior. Contemporary in tone, it ends in the traditional chant of “He’s a wonder”, that perhaps you’ve heard your elders say. Fred Hammond shares both his production skills and his expert bass licks on this tune.

“Fill my Cup”, a simple rendering of a traditional song described by CeCe in her autobiograph On A Positive Note as her very first childhood solo, adds a different twist. Recorded acappella, it is a particular treat to the sweet timbre of her voice. “It Wasn’t Easy” is a slow song written by CeCe and produced by the respected Chris Harris, that is sung from Jesus’ perspective, and speaks of the physical suffering and human shame He must have felt. Melodious acoustic guitar by George Cocchini adds a nice backdrop.

It is indisputable that the 'piece de resistance' on the project is the title track “Alabaster Box”, written by Janice Sjostran. The song tells the story of a woman who presents some precious oil, encased in an alabaster box, as an offering to Jesus. Beginning in a deliberate hush, the song speaks of the woman making her way to Jesus. The song pushes on as she, through the jeers and protests of others, continues through a crowd to humbly offer up her gift. Expert orchestration by The Nashville String Machine, ushers you along with her, right into praise to Him and the moment of triumph of her realizing Christ’s forgiveness. Tom Howard arranges the strings that wrap the gift of this incredible worship song.

Noteworthy appearances by Take Six on “One and the Same” and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir on “Comforter” round out this project that Cece Winans extends to us in perhaps where her voice rings truest, in worship and in praise.

Producers: Fred Hammond, Chris Harris, others
album release date: October 19, 1999
Wellspring Gospel

— reviewed by Melanie Clark

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