CeCe Peniston / The Millenium Collection


20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of CeCe Peniston

CeCe Peniston (born Cecilia Veronica Peniston; September 6, 1969 in Dayton, Ohio, USA) is an African-American recording artist and former beauty queen. At the beginning of the nineties, she was considered to be one of the most successful dance club artists in the history of the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play, scoring five major number one hits in the chart within three years.[1] Her signature song “Finally” became one of the biggest dance singles, selling 3 million copies worldwide.[2]

Among those who personally requested Peniston at private engagements are Aretha Franklin at her private birthday party in Detroit, Michigan, the Pope John Paul II in Rome at the Vatican (as a member of the gospel band Sisters of Glory) and a former, the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, during both of his inauguration ceremonies in Washington, D.C.[3] After the abolition of apartheid, Peniston became the first female entertainer ever to visit and perform in South Africa (before incorrectly denoted Whitney Houston),[4][5] and she was crowned Miss Black Arizona in 1989[6] and Miss Galaxy in 1990.[7]

Apart from being a Soul Train Music Award-nominee in 1993, Peniston won two Billboard Music Awards, three ASCAP Awards, three Annual Winter Music Conference Awards, and one BMI Urban Award of Achievement (all for her debut album Finally released in 1992).

The Analysis:

Finally—-One of the best-selling Dance Singles in the US, this song still manages to sound surprisingly fresh and electric all of these years later…it is all because of the magnificent vocal delivery of Peniston. there is a certain vocal phrasing that elevates this track higher than anything that was released before or since. Peniston manages to draw out certain words while singing that made her unique and allowed her to sound like no one else at the time…combine that with a house piano sound and you have a bona fide hit that still manages to live…remarkable.

We Got A Love Thing—-Really never one of my favorite CeCe songs, there are some remixes of this track that I still adore. This release came at a time when the airwaves were full of studio bands that all sounded the same and unfortunately, Peniston tried to be one of them and the song fell a bit flat for me…none the less, this is high energy Dance music that still plays very well and can still be heard at Clubs everywhere on a good Sat. Nite!!!

Keep On Walkin’—-Besides the unique and remarkable phrasing from CeCe, this song has a nice lazy funk bass that runs through the backdrop that makes this track even more masterful. The voice behind all of the processed music is so strong, that I naturally assume this woman could sing just about anything. This is stellar.

Inside That I Cried—-Slowing things down a bit, Peniston still managed a top ten hit with something that was less than dance floor friendly…proving the power of the voice and the vocal emotion could carry her through to the Contemporary charts. This is a nice strong track…delivered with a certain pain, loneliness and sincerity that makes the song wonderfully believable!

Crazy Love—-This is another of those tracks that delivers a nice lazy funk feel that takes Peniston back to her Gospel roots. The voice is a bit removed from this song…which is a bit odd…it seems like the rhythm section of the song is pushed way to the front of the mix…but this is still fantastic…reminding me so much of classic Jody Whately!

I’m In The Mood—-Perhaps one of my favorite songs from this Diva, the song really showcases that lazy drawl that she sings with…set to a high-powered dance sound that makes the track irresistible even today. This hit smack dab in the middle of the House movement of the 90’s and the bars were pounding this song off the walls when it was released…this has a nice shuffling beat that will stick in your brain forever…it is still pounding away in mine….fantastic!

I’m Not Over You—-This is another of those piano heavy Chicago House tracks that allow CeCe to really showcase her vocal to the optimum. This woman has a great range….able to belt out great notes and then dig deep into her belly and deliver those deeper tones that really belie her origins. this is a fantastic track…you could not ask for more…it is full of emotion, plus you can dance your ass off to it.

Hit By Love—-Again, delivering that Chicago house Sound that reminds me of the C+C and Black Box days, this is a floor burner and a Drag Queen favorite even today. the voice is remarkable….the mood is something we can all relate to…full of that tingle of first love and hopeful anticipation. this is a feel good song if there ever was one…combine this with the voice and you can never go wrong!!! Classic stuff…..

Movin’ On—-This is slowed down a bit but still delivered with that almost trademark shuffling beat that made so much of the music behind Peniston’s remarkable voice so important. Never fear, the voice is well intact and back in the front of the mix where it belongs…the backdrop singers only add to the song and make it a huge LaBelle style ballad that manages to make me smile despite the concept. this is stellar…not to be confused with the song by M People!!!

Before I Lay [You Drive Me Crazy]—-This is freakin’ fantastic….I have never heard this song before [?]! This is crazy….this is delivered much more in the late 90’s R & B ballad style…Peniston delivers line after line that is full of a slight sexiness and a desperate plea for much more than that. This is stellar…I really have to investigate some of the later stuff from CeCe…I’m not sure who the male is signing this with her, but it is so damn familiar…this is incredible!

House Party—-This track also has a later 90’s feel to it, although that shuffling bass beat and vocal slowly begins to emerge as the song develops. This is one of those jams that are built for a slow groove Dance Floor but still has a party atmosphere….besides, how can you go wrong with that voice…right? This is nice!

Finally [Remix]—-This is great, although it offers little new from the remixes that I already have.  The main point of the song is the House piano that runs underneath the dance floor delivery. This is hi-NRG at it’s best and will never really fall of the map of great Floor fillers. This is a classic and still manages to sound remarkably fresh to me…just tremendous!

**** 1/4 out of 5

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