House meets R&B on this classic anthem.
In the late '80s, CeCe Peniston was crowned Miss Black Arizona. Little did she know that a couple of years later, she would go on to release one of the biggest house anthems, "Finally." Characterized by an upbeat rhythm and CeCe's unique vocals, "Finally" charted worldwide. Originally a love poem that was written during one of her chemistry classes, "Finally" tells the story of CeCe finding her Mr. Right. The celebratory song captures this account with its bright tones, exciting flow, and the vivid imagery depicted in her lyrics—"with brown cocoa skin and curly black hair, it's just the way he looks at me, that gentle loving stare." The passion heard in CeCe's voice further emphasizes this love victory. The colorful displays in the music video directed by Claude Borenzweig, which accompanies the single, adds to the song's feel-good energy.
The story behind CeCe Peniston's "Finally" is a simple one. As a 21-year-old, her impressive vocals were first noticed by Manny Lehman, in her role as a background singer for the rapper Overweight Pooch. With Manny's suggestion, CeCe collaborated with Felipe Delgado, creating what came to be one of the most renowned house songs of the '90s.
"Finally" is a guaranteed sing-along tune. CeCe Peniston always saw herself as an R&B singer and even recalls wanting to slow the track down while in the studio. It was a surprise to her that she would ever end up on a house tune. The type of style used on "Finally" is reoccurring within house music, though: other hits from the '90s produced in this way include Robin S's "Show Me Love" and Crystal Waters' "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)." Combining R&B voices with dance beats is heard in other forms of dance music too, like funky house, or more recently in the combination of Kelela’s vocals with Night Slugs' club beats on the Cut 4 Me mixtape.
The use of vocals in this way is interesting, especially with early house music being known for its minimal use of vocals. It makes you wonder why this style was so common within house music in the '90s. It could be that this was a period of time where artists were interested in bringing together elements of house, pop and R&B into mainstream sounds, attracting a wide range of listeners. It might have also been a revival of prominent elements in disco music, which is where house music evolved from. The impact of "Finally" catapulted CeCe Peniston’s career, following up the single with an album named after the single, which went on to achieve many successes. With several samples and remixes later, the legacy CeCe Peniston created from a simple poem she wrote about dating while at college will never be overlooked.