Although not easy, sometimes an artist can take a song that was done previously and completely make it their own.
For example, there’s Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt,” a song originally done by Nine Inch Nails. Luther Vandross covered many tunes in his career, creating renditions that were often preferred over their inspiration. And, of course, there’s Whitney Houston who famously took “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton and “I Am Every Woman” by Chaka Khan to new heights.
But for this post, I want to focus on Anita Baker‘s version of “Lately.”
I’ve been a fan of Tyrese’s version from when I initially heard it on his debut album, but Anita took it to a different level with her unique voice.
Though she has worked over the years to develop a soprano head voice to extend her vocal capability to at least three full octaves, Anita’s natural voice falls within the contralto range. It is considered the lowest female voice type — and the rarest. Vocal theorists assert that a true contralto voice is only possessed by about 1% of women. This, along with her penchant for adding jazz ad-libs to R&B songs, breathes new life into a song that varies very little from its predecessor in terms of lyrics or tempo.