Grammy-nominated singer and recent #realitystarlet Kelly Price may have released her most underrated work to date in 2014 (‘Sing Pray Love, Vol. 1: Sing’), but she’s given us so much more throughout her tenure in the industry. Price has been around for over a decade, releasing seven albums total (five R&B, one gospel, and one Christmas). Although the Christmas album did not chart fairly well and stands as her most forgettable body of work to date, the other six albums contain quite a bit of vocal mastery and excellence. As a veteran vocalist with over fifteen years in the game, I spent about a week with her entire discography to choose her best vocals. “Friend Of Mine” is the obvious choice and has not been included, but you’d be pleasantly surprised to see my other choices below:
5. “You Should’ve Told Me”
[Album: ‘Mirror Mirror’, 2000]
Co-written with gospel super-songwriters PAJAM, “You Should’ve Told Me” is a great example of vocal theatrics. Centered around a theme of being let down by a lover due to insecurities, Price circles around the melodies on the single like a seasoned pro. The chorus is larger-than-life and really allows Price to go full-on diva about halfway through. For me, it’s an early Kelly vocal, but definitely one that she’s still recognized by today (studio version).
[Album: ‘This Is Who I Am’, 2006]
As a hidden gem from her first full-length gospel album, Kelly’s “Healing” brings a level of vocal richness and clarity that’s missing from R&B today. The song is a bit of a departure from her previous works because of the label change from Def Jam to GospoCentric, but it actually helped her gain credibility. It’s the first album that strays away from the cliché R. Kelly/Raphael Saadiq/BabyDubb productions that plague so much of R&B today (live version).
3. “He Proposed”
[Album: ‘Priceless’, 2003]
Despite the extreme cheesiness of the video, “He Proposed” is one of Kelly’s most recognizable (and powerful) songs in her entire catalog. The sultry marriage-themed anthem is relatable for anyone who’s ever tied the knot simply because “proposals” are always the first step. “Proposed” went on to receive a Best Traditional R&B Performance nomination in 2004 without many live performances of the ballad. Being the last single from ‘Priceless’, Price disappeared for nearly five years after this song’s release to…get married (of course) (live version).
2. “As We Lay”
[Album: ‘Mirror Mirror’, 2000]
The most important part about Kelly’s “As We Lay” cover is that it has received extremely high regard from the song’s original singer – the great Shirley Murdock. Not only does legend Murdock appear in the video, but she’s also shown unilateral homage by performing with Price at several events. “Lay” itself is such a perfect match for the richness in Kelly’s upper register. Every single note was eons above industry standard upon its release in 2000, and I’m certain no other female artist could’ve sung “Lay” better (studio version).
1. “It’s Gonna Rain”
[Album: ‘Life’ Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1999]
After everything that’s already been said regarding Kelly’s vocal greatness, you’d think there wasn’t anything left to comment on. But I knew the very first time I heard this song that the R. Kelly WPA (written, produced, and arranged) “It’s Gonna Rain” is the best damn vocal ever put out by Price. To say that this vocal is earth shattering is an understatement, and after only two minutes into – you would probably agree. “Rain” is so epic that I always keep it handy when people say others are better female singers. There’s no denying that this is not only the greatest Kelly Price vocal, but it’s also one of the best in the history of R&B music (live version).