While the 90’s Soul-R’n’B scene was led by the likes of heavyweights Mary J Blige, Brandy, Faith Evans and Monica – it was Soul songstress Kelly Price’s powerhouse Gospel-laced mezzo-soprano that quietly drew in some of the most top-rank well-matched collaborators from legends like Whitney Houston to Mariah Carey and R. Kelly, easily creating some of the memorable songs of the decade.
It was Carey who discovered Price and introduced her to her then husband Tommy Mottola – CEO of Sony Columbia. And of course, the rest, as they say, was Soul history – with Price commanding an impressive discography of 7 albums over a period of 16 years.
Following up her Platinum certified 1998 début ‘Soul Of A Woman‘, Price’s sophomore effort ‘Mirror Mirror‘ released in 2000 remains her most consistent, refined and personal effort till date – a less aggressive yet more soulful version of Mary J Blige’s game changing sophomore effort ‘My Life‘.
Apart from the success of her début effort, Price had already made a global name for herself by collaborating with Whitney Houston and Faith Evans on the worldwide smash ‘Heartbreak Hotel‘ from Whitney’s comeback album ‘My Love Is Your Love‘, it was no surprise that ‘Mirror Mirror‘ was one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year.
Debuting at a career best # 5 on the Billboard 200, ‘Mirror Mirror‘ produced the stellar Grammy nominated single ‘As We Lay‘ – a cover of Shirley Murdock’s 1986 smash. Arguably, Kelly’s version slayed Murdock’s. And oh – she lost the Grammy in 2001 for Best R’n’B Vocalist Female to Soul diva Toni Braxton’s ‘He Wasn’t Man Enough‘, a highly credible competitor. And even if Braxton was not nominated, Price would have been up against Erykah Badu, Aaliyah and Jill Scott – three of the biggest players in the game. Irrespective of her loss, the song slays the entire discographies of a majority of these irrelevant newbies today. So take a bow y’all.
Throughout the ballad, Price’s vocals remain sonically perfect as she starts out slow over a simple piano melody, and then gradually pilots her way effortlessly through to an epic chorus with her irreproachable vocals, as she portrays the role of the other woman in a relationship. Y’all have to listen to my favorite part of the song as her blessed voice perfectly delivers these following lines –‘It’s morning
And now it’s time for us to say goodbye
You’re leaving me
I know you’ve got to hurry home to face your wife, wife‘
The masterful control of Kelly’s instrument is what makes her stand out – she barely wails or over-sings her verses – and that accentuates the pain and regret she feels about being in love with a man who belongs to someone else, as well as the power she owns to walk away from the relationship that’s doing her no good.
The video of the song combined with Kelly’s flawless rendition of the song still gives me goosebumps every time I watch it. Price’s guilt about sleeping with a married man is eerily palpable – and the final confrontation scene between Kelly, her lover and his wife is oh-so-effing-amazing! PS – the wife’s expressions when she realizes what’s going on? Damn!
I’ve been a Kelly Price fan for ages, and there’s literally no other song in her celebrated discography that does justice to her trademark voice.
‘Mirror Mirror‘ eventually became Kelly Price’s second Platinum certified album, selling over a million copies in the US alone.
Check out Kelly belting it out like it’s nobody’s biz in ‘As We Lay‘ right here :