I Am is Elisa Fiorillo's second studio album that was released on August 21, 1990 by Chrysalis Records.
- I Am 4:57
- On The Way Up 4:20
- Out Of My Mind 4:34
- Playgirl 4:21
- Love's No Fun 3:50
- Ooh This I Need 4:00
- Ain't Right 4:39
- Something So Strong 5:04
- Don't Change 4:08
- Purpose In Your Life 4:07
After the American top 20 success of the 1987 single "Who Found Who" with John "Jellybean" Benitez, Elisa Fiorillo had two minor hits on the American Billboard from her 1987 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, she 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.
"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.
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."[
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 that Fiorillo received several years before from a despondent 13-year-old fan. She 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."
The track, "Love's No Fun" was later covered by Mayte Garcia on her 1995 album, "Child of the Sun."
"I Am" 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.
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.
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."
In January of 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."
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."
In an article/interview based around her career and the "I Am" album, 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 her 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."
A December 1990 interview with Fiorillo spoke about the 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."
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."
The Post-Gazette called the album "a strong debut."