MUSIC: Soft Songs, Hard Truths

Whether Cassandra Wilson sings pop or Prince -- its jazz

IT'S TRUE THAT SINGERS SING NOTES, but the word evokes bland images of Post- its on refrigerator doors, "call me" messages scrawled on a pad near the telephone, disposable e-mail hurriedly read and quickly spiked. There has to be a classier term for what Cassandra Wilson sings. Notes just doesn't cover it. You'd have to say that she sings entire epistles, love letters to the soul; every sound that leaves her lips is filled with paragraphs of emotion, written lovingly in longhand with pen and ink.

Wilson established a reputation as a comer on her 1988 album Blue Skies, in which...

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