“Born a farmer’s daughter in a small town in Illinois, CeCe is no stranger to hard work and dedication. She began singing at the age of 5 and hasn’t stopped for a day since.
It wasn’t long after joining her first band that her drive caught the attention of the casting producers of Simon Cowell’s “X Factor USA”. After years of singing in dive bars and sleeping in minivans, her drive was taking her places far greater and far tougher than small-town Illinois. The values of hard work and dedication she had gained made themselves apparent almost immediately.
From the second she hit national television, her “girl boss” personality got her pegged as the most polarizing character in competition show history, but it was her talent that earned her a spot a finalist next to her friends, Fifth Harmony. Even after finishing in 6th place, CeCe garnered more social media following than the winner that season.
When the dust settled, CeCe continued to make her mark on the industry. She honed her craft as a songwriter and then ventured into creative direction and costume design for other artists as well as herself. In 2018, she started her entertainment company, Good Wolf Entertainment, where she directs, edits, and produces music videos. From the virtues she gained from her rural home, she has formed herself into a self-sufficient creative powerhouse in every aspect.
Now with the completion of her debut record, you can hear the catharsis in every stomp, clap, and rasp in her powerhouse voice.”
We sat down with CeCe to find out what’s been going on with her latest single “Little Hell” and dug a little deeper to find out what makes this mysterious and iconic artist tick.
MIW: You’ve been quite busy since your television debut on season 2 of The X Factor. Can you tell us how you transitioned into also becoming a music industry mogul and the inspiration behind starting Good Wolf Entertainment?
CeCe: “Busy” is definitely the nice word for it. Most of the time it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. But I don’t know how to be anything but busy!
When I started in this industry I was always doing everything myself out of necessity- planning my own shoots, making my own clothes, and building my own visuals to pair with my music. Then other artists and friends started reaching out to me to do the same for them. So I started Good Wolf Entertainment with Chase Stockman as the umbrella company for all of my creative ventures. I have been producing and creative directing music videos and photoshoots since I started in this business almost ten years ago. Then over the last year, I moved into directing which is definitely my second love after music. So Good Wolf just seemed like the most natural next step. I plan to continue directing music videos and one day film as well. But music is definitely my number one priority.
MIW: How did you get the attention of the casting producers of the X Factor?
CeCe: The producers of the X Factor found me on YouTube and asked me to audition. I wasn’t even going to do it at first. I kept thinking to myself, “I am a real artist and songwriter. I am not going to risk not being taken seriously just to be on TV. I’ll make it on my own.” But I grew up in a very small town in Illinois. The kind of town that many people don’t ever make it out of. So, I came home from work one day, (I was working two jobs at the time) and I just said “F*ck it, what do I have to lose?” And I sent in my tape to the producers.
MIW: What was your life like after going on The X Factor? How has it been different after finishing 6th place with millions of fans rooting you on?
CeCe: Well, I currently live in Los Angeles and I am making art on a daily basis. It’s not easy. I still struggle in new ways every week, but I am a step closer to my dreams every single day. I appreciate the struggle because struggle will always be more inspiring than “easy”. And I’m even more appreciative to the Warriors that have stuck around to support me for the last 7 years since the show.
MIW: You are definitely one of the most memorable contestants on the X Factor due to your “girl boss” personality and flair for the unusual. Where does that confidence come from?
CeCe: Haha, again, “memorable” is the nice way to put it. I remember a headline once called me “one of the most polarizing characters on television”. Let’s face it- when you have an over the top personality, that makes for reality TV gold. The producers and editors had very clever tricks to twist things and make me look like a bitch. To be honest, my friends think I’m hilarious- but anytime you take what people say out of context, you can make them come off however you want.
Am I over the top? Absolutely. Am I a “girl boss”? Not quite. I am a boss. Period. I just happen to be a woman as well- and a fierce one at that. Sometimes that will annoy people that are intimidated by it or that don’t have the same sense of self. But I am a loyal friend and I love people fiercely and wholly. I am proud of who I am and what I have overcome in my life, and that’s where the confidence comes from.
I don’t think I would still be standing, chasing this dream if I didn’t whole-heartedly believe in myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t have days that are riddled with self-doubt. But I hope I can continue to inspire people with my “polarizing” personality that they don’t have to stay down when they are pushed. Get up. Dust off. Kick more ass. End of story.
MIW: Your army of loyal fans are known as “Warriors.” Can you tell us how that came about?
CeCe: Honestly, I don’t even know. I just remember one day seeing tweets and comments of people saying, “We need a fandom name!” and I thought “Wait, whose fandom? MINE?!” I couldn’t even believe it. I guess they came up with “Warriors” because that’s what I am. A warrior of life. And I love my tribe.
MIW: Starting at the young age of five, you obviously had a love for music growing up. At what point did you realize that you wanted to be a singer or artist?
CeCe: I was always singing to the Pocahontas soundtrack in our house growing up, but the first time I sang in front of people was my Kindergarten talent show. I made my mom hold the microphone for me and I sang “Jesus Loves Me”. And I remember this overwhelming feeling like, “This is it. This is what I’m gonna be when I grow up”. And from then on when anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said “A singer and a mom”. Haha- I’m going to hold off on the “mom” part for a while.
MIW: Do you have any other hidden hobbies or talents outside of the music and film industries?
CeCe: Yes, obviously fashion is very close to my heart. Most of the things I wear on stage or in my videos I have either made from scratch or customized in some way. I love creating all different forms of self-expression and art, and fashion is literally wearable art. It all ties in together for me.
MIW: What is your favorite part about the music industry? Your least favorite? Why?
CeCe: Honestly- It’s a double-edged sword. I do not like the “industry” side of music. It feels almost dirty to me the way art and artists are bought and sold. A&R’s tell us our songs aren’t “accessible” enough, or our social media numbers aren’t high enough, or that our fanbase in Iowa isn’t big enough and we should be tweeting more, or we should be posting more selfies to boost engagement. It’s all bullshit.
But in the same way, if you’re lucky, it’s the only way we can make a living doing what we love to do- what we’re meant to do. We get to create. We get to be heard. We get to make a difference. And that’s why it’s the best and the worst job in the world.
MIW: What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
CeCe: Don’t. – Don’t follow in my footsteps. Create your own. But whatever you do, don’t stop. Keep taking those footsteps until you get where you’re going. There is no such thing as luck. Just those that give up sooner than others.
MIW: If you had to choose between being an artist, fashion designer, or music industry executive, which one would you choose and why?
CeCe: Artist. Hands down. Music is my first love and always will be. But the beautiful thing is, that choice isn’t real. I can and will be whatever I want. And I plan to do it all.
MIW: What can our readers and your existing fanbase expect to see from you musically in the near future?
CeCe: I have new singles coming out through the end of the year and then I have an album coming out next year!
MIW: What can you tell us about your latest music project?
CeCe: The best word I have for it is “cathartic”. This record was such a release for me to make and you can really hear that catharsis in my voice and the writing of these songs. I’m super proud of this project and I’m already working on album #2. I recently finished the music video for “Never Be” and my latest single “Litle Hell” just dropped. There are many more to come soon!
MIW: Where will you be performing next?
CeCe: I’m not sure at the moment, my primary focus is getting the music OUT and planning all the visuals that will go with it. I’ll start doing shows again next year unless a tour comes up before then.
MIW: How can our readers connect with you on social media, learn more about you, or stream/download your music and/or videos?