I Am (Elisa Fiorillo album)

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I Am
Elisa Fiorillo I Am Album Cover 1990.jpeg
Studio album by
Released21 August 1990
GenreR&B, dance-pop, house, funk
LabelChrysalis Records
ProducerDavid Z, Prince, Oliver Leiber
Elisa Fiorillo chronology
Elisa Fiorillo
I Am
Nursery Rhymes

I Am is the second album from American singer Elisa Fiorillo, and her last album release aiming at the mainstream chart, released in 1990.


After the American top 20 success of the 1987 single "Who Found Who" with John "Jellybean" Benitez, Fiorillo had two minor hits on the American Billboard from her self-titled debut album. As a follow-up, she released her second album I Am in 1990, recorded at Prince's Paisley Park recording studio after she had contributed, as a backing vocalist, to the soundtracks of Graffiti Bridge and Batman. Several songs from the album were written by Prince, whilst he also produced one track. Fiorillo also appeared on Prince's 1991 album Diamonds and Pearls, being the backing vocalist on two songs, whilst in 2009, Fiorillo became a member of Prince's band, where in 2010 she performed on a world tour with Prince, playing in sold-out shows across Europe.

Two singles were released from the album: "On the Way Up" and "Oooh This I Need". The leading single "On the Way Up" gave Fiorillo a top-30 American hit and garnered significant attention in clubs, whilst "Oooh This I Need", released in 1991, failed to capture the same success, only peaking at #90.[1] "On the Way Up" saw a worldwide release whilst "Oooh This I Need" was mainly released in America only.

The album itself failed to make an impact on the American chart or any other country, and Fiorillo would not record any more albums, largely contributing as a backing vocalist instead.[2]

In an interview around the time of the album, the interviewer noted that the track "Ain't Right" spoke about interracial relationships, and therefore asked Fiorillo what motivated her to write it. Fiorillo replied "I got the idea from a friend of mine who was going out with a black guy, and "Ain't Right" is about the way her parents reacted. If a person loves somebody you shouldn't put any boundaries on it. I mean, I'm Italian; I don't want people saying "Don't go out with her, she eats too much pasta."[3]

In a December 1990 interview, the article spoke of the track "Purpose in Your Life", which Fiorillo took particular pride in. The song is an anti-teen-suicide song inspired by a letter Fiorillo received several years before from a despondent 13-year-old fan. Fiorillo stated "I wrote her a letter back, and I told her you have to have a purpose and you should realize that you can't live for everyone else - you have to live for yourself. She wrote me back, and so did her parents, thanking me. It made me think I can really help people and it's nobody's doing but mine."[4]

"Love's No Fun" was later covered by Mayte Garcia on her 1995 album Child of the Sun.[5]


The album was mainly produced and engineered by Prince's Paisley Park Records producer, David Z., although both Prince and Oliver Leiber produced one track each. On one track, Ian Prince and Levi Seacer Jr. are credited for co-production whilst Seacer and Darryl Duncan each solely co-produced one track on the album.[6]

On the album, Fiorillo co-wrote five of ten tracks, Prince wrote and co-wrote five tracks, whilst various other writers mainly include those who produced the album, such as David Z..[6]

In an interview around the time of the album, Fiorillo was asked how she came to work with Prince. She responded "I was at Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis, working on my second album. I had just finished some vocals. I went to the bathroom, came back, and Prince was sitting there in the studio listening to my tape. The funny thing is that I was never into Prince when I was young - I loved Barbra Streisand and Broadway show material, but I had never really listened to Prince. I didn't know it at the time, but Prince had been writing a song called "I Am", which was for me. And he was always on my case, urging me to write more. He said, "Tomorrow I want you to bring in a new set of lyrics and we'll write a song." He was extremely nice, and completely respectful."[3]

In January 1991, an interview in the Philadelphia Magazine spoke of how Fiorillo came to work with Prince, where Fiorillo spoke about the idea of the album's sound and Prince, stating "I wanted to take the Philadelphia soul sound and add it to the Minneapolis funk and make myself a really soulful little white girl. So last year I called up David Z. at Prince's Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis and said I wanted to record there. One day I came back from the bathroom and Prince was sitting there. He looked up and, "You're a good singer. Why don't you go in there and sing for me?" I was always taught to be confident. So I went in and started singing. He said, "Do you write?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "Go home and write some lyrics and we'll work on them tomorrow." Then he walked out. I stayed up until 4am writing."[7]

Another article/interview around the time of the "Oooh This I Need" single saw Fiorillo speaking of her 'brother and sister' relationship with Prince, stating "Prince is charming, as he is with all women, but our relationship was strictly professional. He has quite a reputation and it had my whole family worried. I decided that I wasn't going to sacrifice working with a genius because of rumors. Besides, I could never figure out how he found time to mess around since he was always working. He's a very generous person who likes to help people and he's not just a sex maniac. I think the world of him."[8]

In an article/interview based around Fiorillo's career and the I Am album, where Fiorillo revealed that the record label Chrysalis signed her as they were looking for the new Madonna. The article mentions that I Am does have similarities to Madonna although the album is exactly how Fiorillo wanted it, with Fiorillo stating "My album started off very mechanical and I said "I'm not making a record that sounds like anybody else." We have two tracks with everything live and they really show I can sing."[9]

A December 1990 interview with Fiorillo spoke about the I Am album, "I went in with a different attitude and I came out with what I wanted. They didn't want me to sing R&B because they didn't have a department for that kind of music. I said, "I don't care, that's what I want, that's what I sing. I'm going to make the record anyway - you guys are gonna have to get an R&B department."[4]


The album was released via Chrysalis Records in America and in certain European countries, including Sweden and Scandinavia.[10]

The album's artwork features a close-up shot of Fiorillo's face against a white background.[6]

To date, the album remains only available on the original and now out-of-print vinyl, cassette and CD. Unlike her debut album, I Am is unavailable to buy as an MP3 download.[11]


A music video was created for "On the Way Up",[12] although no video was created for the second single "Oooh This I Need", although TV performances of both singles were broadcast in both America and Europe.[13]

Track listing[edit]

1."I Am"David Z., Levi Seacer Jr., Prince4:57
2."On the Way Up"David Z., Elisa Fiorillo, Levi Seacer Jr., Prince4:20
3."Out of My Mind"Bill Kenner, Micheal Smotherman, Tom Flora4:34
5."Love's No Fun"Prince3:50
6."Oooh This I Need"Prince4:00
7."Ain't Right"Elisa Fiorillo, Oliver Leiber4:39
8."Something So Strong"Elisa Fiorillo, Ian Prince5:04
9."Don't Change"Darryl Duncan, Elisa Fiorillo4:08
10."Purpose In Your Life"David Z., Elisa Fiorillo, Levi Seacer Jr.4:07

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2/5 stars[14]
Pittsburgh Post-Gazettefavorable[15]
News & Record (Greensboro)3/5 stars[16][17]
New Straits Times2/5 stars[18]

In an article and interview with Fiorillo by the Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, the article's writer speaks of the album, stating "With her latest record, "I Am" (Chrysalis), she asserts a message of independence and sensuality."[19]

Chart performance[edit]


On the Way Up[edit]

Chart (1990) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[20] 19
UK Singles Chart[21] 83
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[1] 27
U.S. Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs Chart[1] 31
U.S. Billboard Radio Songs Chart[22] 44

Oooh This I Need[edit]

Chart (1991) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[1] 90


  • Elisa Fiorillo - vocals, writer (track 2, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • David Z. - producer (tracks 1-5 and 8-10), drums (track 1, 3), percussion (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 10), writer (track 1, 2, 10), recorded by (track 5), all instruments (track 8)
  • Levi Seacer Jr. - all instruments (track 1, 2, 8, 10), writer (track 1, 2, 10), co-producer (track 2, 8, 10), drums (track 3), percussion (track 3), other instruments (track 3), bass (track 6), guitar (track 9)
  • Prince - writer (track 1, 2, 4, 5, 6), other instruments (track 5), producer (track 6)
  • Bill Kenner - writer (track 3)
  • Michael Smotherman - writer (track 3)
  • Tom Flora - writer (track 3)
  • Cynthia Johnson - backing vocals (track 4)
  • Ingrid Chavez - backing vocals (track 4)
  • Jana Anderson - backing vocals (track 4)
  • Rosie Gaines - backing vocals (track 4, 6)
  • Michael Koppelman - recorded by (track 4, 5, 6), harpsichord (track 6)
  • Junior Vasquez - remix (track 4)
  • The Steeles - backing vocals (track 5, 7)
  • Sonny Thompson - bass (track 5)
  • Michael Bland - drums (track 5)
  • Michael Bland - acoustic drums (track 6)
  • Kirk Johnson - electric drums (track 6)
  • The Wild Pair - backing vocals (track 7)
  • St. Paul - electric bass (track 7), organ (track 7)
  • Oliver Leiber - drums (track 7), producer (track 7), writer (track 7)
  • Keith Cohen - mixer (track 7)
  • Ian Prince - co-producer (track 8), all instruments (track 8), writer (track 8)
  • Darryl Duncan - co-producer (track 9), all instruments (track 9), writer (track 9)


  1. ^ a b c d Elisa Fiorillo. "Elisa Fiorillo - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  2. ^ Demalon, Tom. "Elisa Fiorillo - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  3. ^ a b Elisa Fiorillo
  4. ^ a b http://www.elisafiorillo.com/#!blossoming/vstc4=press/photostackergallery1=20
  5. ^ https://www.discogs.com/release/566726
  6. ^ a b c "Elisa Fiorillo - I Am (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  7. ^ http://www.elisafiorillo.com/#!blossoming/vstc4=press/photostackergallery1=18
  8. ^ http://www.elisafiorillo.com/#!blossoming/vstc4=press/photostackergallery1=23
  9. ^ http://www.elisafiorillo.com/#!blossoming/vstc4=press/photostackergallery1=10
  10. ^ "Elisa Fiorillo - I Am at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  11. ^ "elisa fiorillo i am: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  12. ^ "Elisa Fiorillo - On The Way Up Music Video". YouTube. 2009-06-22. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  13. ^ "elisa fiorillo ooh this i need". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  14. ^ "I Am - Elisa Fiorillo : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  15. ^ "Post-Gazette.com". Nl.newsbank.com. 1991-02-10. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  16. ^ "Search : News-Record.com : Greensboro & the Triad's most trusted source for local news and analysis". Nl.newsbank.com. 1990-12-28. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  17. ^ https://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&gl=uk&tbm=nws&q=elisa+fiorillo+i+am&oq=elisa+fiorillo+i+am&gs_l=news-cc.3..43j43i400.328.3571.0.3773.,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=ec29a1543bd24b38&biw=1280&bih=635
  18. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=ishUAAAAIBAJ&sjid=i5ADAAAAIBAJ&pg=3395,2827210&dq=elisa+fiorillo+i+am&hl=en
  19. ^ http://www.elisafiorillo.com/#!blossoming/vstc4=press/photostackergallery1=24
  20. ^ Steffen Hung. "Elisa Fiorillo - On The Way Up". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  21. ^ "The Official Charts Company - On The Way Up by Elisa Fiorillo Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013.
  22. ^ "Elisa Fiorillo Album & Song Chart History". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2012-09-11.