Tuesday, June 14, 2011
BLACK MUSIC MONTH CLASSIC FLASHBACK REVIEW: SONGBIRD NIECY'S SOULFUL UPLIFTING DEBUT
1976 COLUMBIA RECORDS
WRITTEN BY DENIECE WILLIAMS, HANK REED, NATHAN WATTS, SUSAYE GREENE
PRODUCED BY MAURICE WHITE AND CHARLES STEPHANY
# 2 R&B/# 25 POP/# 1 UK
Being a member of Stevie Wonder's backing group Wonder Love was beneficial for Soul singer/songwriter Deniece Williams. Not only did she have the opportunity to tour the world with a Motown legend, she was able to develop her vocal and songwriting skills. The result: "Free" her debut single that became an international classic and favorite among music lovers, who still plays this classic at parties, weddings, and while dancing, cuddling and making hot passionate love with their partners. Co-written with Nathan Watts, Hank Reed and former Supreme and fellow Wonderlove member Susaye Greene and Earth, Wind & Fire members Maurice White & the late Charles Stephany, this classic mid-tempo ballad is a well written and well arranged song that touches the heart, mind and soul with music and lyrics that inspires people to be free to be themselves without restraints.
The classic opens with the keyboard performance followed by the drums, bass and cymbals. Afterwards, Niecy sings the opening line
'Whispering in his ear/My magic potion for love
Telling him I'm sincere/and that there's nothing too good for us
But I got to be free, free, free.
The song then goes into a smooth and funky, mid-tempo groove, courtesy of the bass, drums, horn section as well as the keyboard solo and ad-libs by Niecey towards the end of the song, which gave listeners a sample of what she had instored for her fans.
Deniece Williams' debut single still sounds as great as it did when first released during the Disco era, and after 35 years, fans still play that song when they want to be free.
FACTS ABOUT FREE
FREE has been remade and sampled by several R&B and Hip-Hop Artists.
Jazz/R&B singer scored a minor hit with his version of "Free" on his debut album.
Rapper Mic Geronimo sampled "Free" for his 1994 hit "Shit's Real"
R&B Singer Debelah Morgan scored a minor hit with her cover of "Free" in 1994.
R&B Singer Chante Moore remade "Free" on her 1994 "A Love Supreme" and while it never was released as a single, Chante performs this during her live concerts. She also incorporated The Commodores' 1980 R&B/Country hit "Sail On" at the end of the song giving it a Gospel feel, which is why her version is titled "Free/Sail On." In addition to singing lead, she sang background vocals with Phillip Bailey, lead vocalist for Earth, Wind & Fire, who worked with Deniece in the past and is one of her good friends.
Rap Trio Lords of The Underground sampled "Free" for their 1995 hit "Faith." Deniece appears on the song and the video singing a re-written hook 'Let the faith set you free.'
Rapper Lil' Kim sampled "Free" for her single "Can't Fuck With Queen Bee" with singers Govenor, Shalenna Thomas and Full Force.