A Rose Is Still a Rose

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A Rose Is Still a Rose
Studio album by Aretha Franklin
Released March 23, 1998
Recorded 1997-1998
Genre Contemporary R&B, soul, Hip Hop
Length 51:38
Label Arista
Producer Dallas Austin, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Jermaine Dupri, Lauryn Hill, Daryl Simmons
Aretha Franklin chronology
Greatest Hits: 1980-1994
(1994)
A Rose is Still a Rose
(1998)
So Damn Happy
(2003)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau A[2]
Entertainment Weekly B+[3]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[4]
The Source Favorable[5]
Vibe Favorable[6]

A Rose is Still a Rose is the thirty-sixth studio album by American recording artist Aretha Franklin. Released in March 1998, it resulted in the singer's most critically acclaimed and best-selling album of the 1990s. It was also her first Gold-certified studio album in twelve years and received two Grammy nominations for "Best R&B Album" and "Best R&B Song" for the title track "A Rose Is Still A Rose".

Background[edit]

By 1997, Aretha Franklin hadn't recorded a studio album in six years following the release of 1991's ill-fated What You See Is What You Sweat. Franklin remained active, providing songs on film soundtracks, such as Malcolm X, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit and Waiting to Exhale. Franklin also released her first greatest-hits album of her Arista tenure in 1994, which included two new singles produced by Babyface, including the top 40 hit, "Willing to Forgive".

In the meantime, word came that Franklin was working with younger producers trying to re-connect with a new audience that was embracing neo soul and hip hop soul artists, such as Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu and The Fugees. When reports emerged that Franklin's new album would include Sean "Puffy" Combs, Jermaine Dupri and The Fugees' Lauryn Hill, there were mixed reactions from fans and critics unsure what to expect from the collaborations, as other attempts to modernize Franklin's classic soul sound produced mixed results – her last hit album was 1986's Aretha.

Release and reception[edit]

Prior to releasing the album's first single, Franklin made headlines for two stand-out performances at the Grammy Awards in February 1998.

The first was her 1967 classic, "Respect", which she sang in a renewed version inspired by her role in the sequel to The Blues Brothers, she later presented a Grammy award. Then, shortly before opera singer Luciano Pavarotti was to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, Pavarotti called in sick. As organisers looked to find a replacement, Franklin opted to fill in as she had sung with Pavarotti weeks earlier.

Franklin later stated it took 30 minutes to get prepared for the performance and the singer admitted having real concern over how the performance would go. However, her worries were unfounded when she performed "Nessun Dorma" in Pavarotti's musical key. Her performance won a standing ovation.

Shortly after the Grammy performance, the title track was quietly issued to radio stations in the late winter of 1998. The title track was produced by Hill, who also provided background vocals. The song's lyrics focused on a wiser woman giving advice to a younger woman going through relationship problems and self-identity issues. It featured a modern soul production by Hill and a vocally rejuvenated Franklin, who had begun singing in her higher register again after years of singing in a lower register, due to declining vocals brought on by years of chain smoking. The song was also given its own video, which gained heavy rotation on BET. The video featured not only Hill, but other modern female soul artists, who were admittedly influenced by Franklin, including Faith Evans.

The single became a success on release and crossed over to pop radio where the song peaked at #26 on the Hot 100, marking the forty-fifth top 40 hit of Franklin's long career. The album was issued in March 1998, a month following Franklin's showstopping Grammy performance, gaining successful sales, peaking at #30 on the Billboard 200 and #7 on the R&B chart. Though the album failed to produce additional Top 40 hits – the follow-up "Here We Go Again" (produced by Jermaine Dupri) peaked at #76 on the Hot 100 and #24 on the R&B chart. The album sold well enough to give Franklin her first Gold album in 12 years. As of July 2002, the album had sold 390,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[7]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "A Rose Is Still a Rose" (Lauryn Hill)  – 4:27
  2. "Never Leave You Again" (Sean "Puffy" Combs, Kelly Price, Corey Rooney)  – 4:36
  3. "In Case You Forgot" (Bill Dickens, Tim Gant, Michael Gray)  – 4:49
  4. "Here We Go Again" (Troy Lee Broussard, Jermaine Dupri, Wayne Garfield, Trey Lorenz, Mauro Malavasi, David Romani)  – 3:30
  5. "Every Lil' Bit Hurts" (Stephanie Cooke, Jermaine Dupri, Manuel Seal, Jr.)  – 4:07
  6. "In the Morning" (Daryl Simmons)  – 4:56
  7. "I'll Dip" (Dallas Austin)  – 4:06
  8. "How Many Times" (Greg Charley, David Foster, John Winston)  – 4:21
  9. "Watch My Back" (Norman West)  – 4:45
  10. "Love Pang" (Mira Waters, Nancy Wilson)  – 4:20
  11. "The Woman" (Franklin)  – 7:41

References[edit]

  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (April 1, 2002). A Rose Is Still a Rose – Aretha Franklin | AllMusic: Review. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2011-04-08.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1998). Robert Christgau: CG: Aretha Franklin. Robert Christgau. The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2011-04-08.
  3. ^ Helligar, Jeremy (March 13, 1998). A Rose Is Still a Rose | Music | EW.com. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2011-04-08.
  4. ^ Hunter, James (February 25, 1998). "Aretha Franklin: A Rose Is Still A Rose  : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  5. ^ Aretha Franklin – Rose Is Still A Rose CD Album. CD Universe. Muze. Retrieved on 2011-04-08.
  6. ^ Chairman Mao (April 1998). "Revolutions – Aretha Franklin 'A Rose Is a Rose' Arista". Vibe (Vibe Media Group) 6 (3). Retrieved 2011-04-08. 
  7. ^ "Billboard Bits: Aretha, Love Parade, Hot Snakes". Billboard. 2002-07-12. Retrieved 2012-03-16.