CeCe Peniston Unisex T-Shirt
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CECE PENISTON PT. 1 – MY STORY FROM MY MOUTH – (ORIGIN, EDUCATION & MORE) – HOSTED BY CHOKE NO JOKE
Cecilia Veronica “CeCe” Peniston (/siːˈsiː ˈpɛnɪstən/; born September 6, 1969) is an American singer and former beauty queen. In the early 1990s, she scored five number one hits on the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play. Her signature song “Finally” reached the number 5 spot on the Hot 100 and number 2 in UK Top 75.
Peniston has performed at private engagements for Aretha Franklin‘s private birthday party in Detroit, Michigan, Pope John Paul II in Rome at the Vatican (as a member of the gospel band Sisters of Glory) and the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, during both of his inauguration ceremonies in Washington, D.C. She was the first foreign female entertainer to perform in post-apartheid South Africa. According to Peniston, her vocal range vacillates between “five to seven octaves”.
On February 4, 2011, Peniston signed a record deal with West Swagg Music Group/Bungalo Records, with full distribution through Universal Music Group Distribution, and announced release of a new solo album 15 years after her last studio set (I’m Movin’ On from 1996 on A&M Records). By the end of the year, however, only three digital singles had been issued including a new song called “Stoopid!“, and two cover versions of her prior hits, “Keep On Walkin’” and “Finally“.
CeCe Peniston – Finally (Official Video)
In December 2016, Billboard magazine listed her among the 100 Top Dance Club Artists of All Time (as the 52nd).
1969–90: Early life
Peniston was born in Dayton, Ohio, in United States, but spent the majority of her formative years in Phoenix, where she was raised since she was nine. As a daughter of a former military father, Ronald Peniston (born 1934, married Barbara Anne in 1960), she started singing at church and doing plays and musicals such as H.M.S. Pinafore in the 6th grade. She participated in local karaoke contests and singing talent shows, while taking piano lessons.
She attended Trevor G. Browne High School, class of 1987, in Phoenix, and landed a part in a local theater group’s production of Bubblin’ Brown Sugar (playing the young Sweet Georgia Brown). After earning her diploma, she continued to study liberal arts at the Phoenix College, where she got involved in athletics, and entered beauty pageants. She was crowned Miss Black Arizona in 1989 and Miss Galaxy in 1990.
Peniston began writing pop lyrics already at school. The words of her international hit “Finally” were purportedly penned during a chemistry class, while thinking about dating in college.
1990–91: Female Preacher
—said by Peniston interviewed by 5 Chicago in 2006
Her music career began in January 1991, when Felipe “DJ Wax Dawg” Delgado, her friend and a record producer based also in Phoenix, asked Peniston to record back-up vocals for Tonya Davis, a black female rapper known as Overweight Pooch after her childhood nickname.
Davis, headed in a direction of a “new” Monie Love, was searching for a singer to add vocals to the title track of her album Female Preacher, which was to be released on A&M Records that summer. At a talent show she met a woman named Malaika LeRae Sallard, but when it came time to get Sallard into the studio, the rapper found she’d lost her future label-mate’s number. When Delgado, who’d preferred Peniston instead, brought his favorite in to do background parts, the response from everyone was immediate, but did not move the Pooch to invite Peniston back for more vocals – unless she was successful in locating Sallard.
Later, as it became clear that Peniston was leaping from the Overweight Pooch’s album to the top of the charts, rumor had it the Pooch was stewing over Peniston’s using Female Preacher as her springboard. Tonya Davis, pregnant at the time of recording her album, swore she harbored no jealousy towards Peniston. “There’s no jealousy, because she has a voice. I gave her the chance, but I didn’t give her a voice,” the rapper insisted for Phoenix New Times in July 1992, and Peniston, interviewed by the same newspaper in the meantime, reacted by her own words. “I feel like anything’s possible and I know one thing. If I wasn’t at this spot, I still would be achieving to get to this spot.” Ironically enough, Sallard eventually threw in a few back-up vocals for Peniston on a song with a significant title, “You Win, I Win, We Lose”, while Peniston, who in return played an agent to get a record deal also for Malaika (whose album Sugar Time scored in 1993 two Top 5 hits on the US Dance chart, including the No. 1 single “Gotta Know (Your Name)“) mentioned the Pooch’s name on her own debut album in addition, leaving Davis a note saying “thanks for letting me be a part of Female Preacher”.
Besides the Peniston’s vocal performance on three tracks in total, of which “I Like It” was released as a single with a moderate success (at #16 in US Dance and #58 in UK Top 75 the following January), she was eventually given also a credit for co-writing two of those, “Kickin’ Da Blues” and the title’s, “Female Preacher”. But the Overweight Pooch’s album flopped on the market, and A&M was the first major label for Delgado himself, who was facing contractual disputes with the record company. After Manny Lehman (a DJ, then A&M Art Director and one of the executive producers of Female Preacher) also noticed the powerful voice of a still back-up vocalist, he offered Delgado a second chance, and commissioned him to produce a track for Peniston herself as a solo artist. Not looking to lose his major deal connections, Delgado called on a hometown friend and music producer too, Rodney K. Jackson (they two met through mutual friends in Arizona), who was brought then to A&M family to help co-produce the Peniston’s single, which was soon to be recognized as “Finally”.
Despite an initial label’s resistance to sign Peniston to more than a one-off single deal, the “Finally” session resulted in recording her own debut album after the final approval of A&M’s Vice President, Mark Mazzetti.
Peniston was 21 years old when her debut single “Finally” was released. The song burst on to the US club scene in the fall of 1991, where it became an instant dance anthem peaking, in October, at the top of the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play for two weeks, while achieving a respectful starting position (at No. 29) overseas.
After her first song climbed the international charts, Peniston was headed into the studio to record a full-length album. However, she “had two months to pull the whole album together” and “didn’t realize the impact the record was having until it reached the top five”. She also described how difficult it was to begin her career at such an extreme pace, but the result was a solidly produced ten track collection titled Finally, issued in January of the following year.
Both the single and album entered the US Hot 100, as well as the UK Top 75 chart (at No. 5 and No. 2 for single, respectively at No. 70 and at No. 10 for album release), and ultimately earned Peniston a gold or silver certification in both countries. By the end of 1992 her debut (in Europe re-released in 1997 with a bonus remix “Finally ’97“) sold over 540,000 in United States.
“We Got a Love Thang“, the second single (co-written by Chantay Savage), with a video clip in heavy rotation on TV music channels, went to No. 1 in the US Dance chart in February (No. 20 in the Hot 100), and in England (where “Finally” skipped to No. 2 eventually) “We Got a Love Thang” peaked at No. 6. Who provided backing vocals on the album remains a source of contention. While on her album Finally Darnnel Rush was credited, on its single release, the name of Kym Sims (who was a co-writer of “Keep On Walkin’“) appeared as one of back-up vocalists.
With another hit record on the charts, Peniston began a year of touring clubs and small theaters in the USA in support of her album. Her travels started with a series of shows in the Philippines, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Italy, and after her return to the USA, Peniston continued with such R&B acts as Joe Public, the Cover Girls, R. Kelly and Levert. While on tour, “Keep On Walkin'”, a hip hop swinging composition, joined the list of Peniston’s three consecutively running hits, bringing Peniston in June her third No. 1 in the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart (No. 15 in the Hot 100), and another Top 10 hit in UK. Later in August, that was also her highest outing in the US R&B chart, scoring at No. 3.
On October 17, Billboard magazine announced that Peniston was the leading nominee in the Billboard Music Awards, being nominated in four categories: three times in the dance category with “Finally” (Best New Artist, Best Female Artist and Best Director), and one in the R&B/Rap category (Best Female Artist) for her urban hit “Keep On Walkin'”. Ultimately the song won two awards, and three of her singles released in 1992 were listed also within the Top 100 songs of the Billboard Year-End chart (at No. 20 with “Finally”, at No. 61 with “Keep On Walkin'”, and at No. 97 with “We Got a Love Thang”). In the UK, Peniston was listed as the 20th of Top Selling Singles Artists in 1992.
Additional songs taken from album Finally achieved the Top 40 status at least in the hip hop/R&B field. The grieving lyrics of her ballad “Inside That I Cried“, co-written by Peniston’s then-husband, Malik Byrd (who appeared also in its video), and produced in conjunction with Anita Baker‘s cohort, Steve Lindsey, peaked at No. 10 in the US R&B (No. 94 in the Hot 100 and No. 42 in UK Top 75). The fifth single, a midtempo, “Crazy Love“, climbed to No. 31 (No. 97 in the Hot 100 and No. 44 in UK).
By the end of the year, Peniston received several awards for her achievements in the music industry for 1992. Among them, one Billboard Music Award (as Best New Artist – Dance, the second went to the video director Claude Borenzweig), three ASCAP Awards (for Song of The Year, Most Performed Song of The Year, and Pop Songwriter of The Year), another three awards (as Best New Dance Artist, Best Dance Solo Artist, and for Best 12″ Dance Record) at the Annual Winter Music Conference, and the BMI Urban Award of Achievement. The album itself was nominated on a Soul Train Music Award ’93 in the Best R&B/Soul Album – Female category.
CeCe Peniston – Keep On Walkin’ (Official Music Video)
CeCe Peniston – We Got A Love Thang
CeCe Peniston – I’m Not Over You
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