born in dayton, ohio, in 1971, cece peniston was raised in phoenix, arizona. inspired by the likes of patti labelle, chaka khan and shirley murdock, peniston's own talent developed early, earning her spots in a variety of music theater productions. participation in such structured expressions of her creativity demonstrated her commitment to music to her mother while, at the same time, stregnthening her own resolve to pursue a career in the arts.
unlike too many families, peniston's relatives was very supportive of her ambition and lended encouragement at every opportunity. "i really wanted to take piano lessons," peniston revealed in an upscale magazine interview, "but i didn't have a way to practice my lessons at home and [my grandmother] was able to buy me a piano. i was so happy, i couldn't believe it." throughout her high school years, peniston kept performing and participated in athletics, resulting in record-breaking performances that would foreshadow her future career.
peniston attended phoenix college and began her recording career as a background performer on overweight pooch's 1991 release, female preacher. so impressed was a&m director manny lehman with peniston's vocals that he arranged for them to meet. that meeting led to lehman asking female preacher producer felipe delgado to collaborate with peniston on a solo project. "finally"purportedly penned by peniston during a college chemistry classbecame the twenty-one year-old singer's first single from the album of the same name. released at the same time as kym sims' "too blind to see it", the two would-be divas created a considerable stir with a minimum of effort. singles that did not feature their images generated an air of mystery as their songs raced up the charts. fans eagerly anticipated the release of a full-length album.
though finally hinted at a wide range of musical ability and styles, the dance-driven, free-wheeling debut single established her as a club favorite. touring heavily to promote her album, peniston appeared alongside the covergirls, r. kelly and levert, in larger venues, and headlined smaller venues alone. while acts such as c+c music factor, martha wash and dina carroll made a strong case for a resurgence of dance music in the 1990s, a negative image of the genre, spawned by a backlash against the over-indulgences of the 1970s had erroded its audience. realizing this, peniston courted the queer community with astounding results. between her gay fans and her worldwide touring, peniston saw "finally" go gold.
subsequent to the release of finally, peniston was married and quickly divorced. perhaps sudden succes and a tour that took peniston from the united states to japan and europe simply put too much strain upon the new union. at any rate, peniston's emotional trials would inform her future work, providing a more introspective view of the artist to her listeners. within a year, peniston was back in the studio to record her sophomore release, though ya knew. "people are expecting a lot from me," peniston recounted to billboard magazine, upon the release of though ya knew, "they want to know whether or not i'm a one-hit wonder but, to be honest, i sort of like the pressure. it keeps me motivated and challenges me". the particular challenge, this time around, was co-authoring three of the album's fourteen tracks. though though ya knew did not enjoy the high-profile success of finally, it did serve to establish peniston as more than capable of more straight-forward r&b balladry.
1996's i'm movin' on similarly showcased peniston's maturity as a vocalist and even intimated at gospel roots that have not been confirmed. a masterful cover of jocelyn brown's "somebody else's guy" pandered to clubland denizens, while an inspired duet with one-time jodeci member and future half of the duo k-ci & jojo, jojo hailey, fueled rumors that the two were romatically involved. of the range of material selected for this, her third, album, peniston remarked to the music news wire, "maintaining my realness and letting people know i can do something else was the main goal".
1998 saw the release of cece peniston's greatest hits from a&m records. currently, peniston is rumored to be in chicago, working on a new ablum with producer steve "silk" hurley with whom she recently collaborated on a single for his compilation album, called "nobody else". in early 2001, she returned to clubland, releasing the anthem "lifetime to love" on 4 play records. possessing a distinctive and powerful voice, cece peniston is truly one of music's most over-looked divas. though she has proven herself as both a captivating disco diva and an enticing r&b crooner, her greatest trial may prove to be sustaining a career in a climate that is far too quick to label an artistespecially one of the dance varietya one-hit wonder a little too quickly. undoubtedly, though, peniston will not only perservere, but also succeed because, aside from being one hell of a singer, she is a diva with which to be reckoned.