While New Jackers, rappers, and R&B/poppers angled for chart space in the '80s and early '90s, along came Chicago singer/songwriter Miki Howard.

While New Jackers, rappers, and R&B/poppers angled for chart space in the '80s and early '90s, along came Chicago singer/songwriter Miki Howard. The daughter of celebrated gospel singers and the former lead singer of the group Side Effect more than held her own, notching hits ("Ain't Nuthin' in the World," "Love Under New Management") and signature album tracks ("Imagination") by channeling a jazzy, R&B style influenced by such disparate sources as '40s bandleader Glenn Miller and Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. Seven years after her 1994 tribute album to another idol, Billie Holiday, Howard is back with a seventh album that seeks to reclaim her classic soul status. Overall, the set doesn't quite meet that challenge. But with the help of such producers as Barry Eastmond and Gary Brown, Howard's smoky vocals come closest to echoing her well-remembered siren call on the jazz-soothed "Kiss of a Stranger" and the soulful love song "Nobody." Contact: 818-225-5373.—GM

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