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FALL PREVIEW / COVER STORY | Pop

Fall's Fresh Faces

September 04, 1997|CHEO HODARI COKER

Faith Evans, 24, hip-hop torch singer, songwriting balladeer

Look for: "Keep the Faith," the tentative title of an album tentatively due in October.

Why she matters: Despite a beautiful singing voice and a platinum self-titled debut album, Evans is still best known outside of hip-hop and R&B, unfortunately, as the widow of rapper Notorious B.I.G. and the alleged mistress of the late Tupac Shakur. The new album--which is expected to include some heartfelt reflections on B.I.G.'s death and other reflections on the meaning of love--should make her a mainstream star. "I'll Be Missing You," her duet with Sean "Puffy" Combs, was the nation's No. 1 single for two months this summer.

Evans is an artist in the true meaning of the word. As a live presence, she is a worthy rival of Mary J. Blige for the title of Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. Hers is a deep, booming voice, with enough range to reach the depths of soul-stirring gospel fervor. It's seasoned with enough bluesy grit to ensure that each ballad has the timeless resonance of a smoldering torch song, just right for expressing her pleas for the love that will heal her wounds and un-break her heart.

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