25 Classic R&B/Soul Albums on Freegal

earth_wind__fire_2Do you like good music—some sweet soul music?

Want to listen to some of the best R&B music ever made without spending money on iTunes, Spotify or Tidal?

Try Freegal. It lets you download DRM-free mp3s of your favorite songs. Moreover, once you download a song, you can keep the mp3 forever. Put it on your phone, your computer, your iPod–wherever you want. It’s yours. You can download up to five songs a week.

You also get unlimited streaming, if you prefer that.

And it’s free with your library card.

Here are 25 of our favorite R&B albums you can start downloading right now from Freegal:

1. Earth, Wind & Fire: That’s the Way of the World

Earth, Wind & Fire had a real claim to Best Band in the World in the mid-1970s, and this is them at their absolute best. “Shining Star” is them at their funkiest, “Reasons” is them at their most moving, and the title track still works as the band’s mission statement more than 40 years later.

When you’re done downloading That’s the Way of the World, check of the band’s live album, Gratitude.

2. Whitney Houston: Whitney

Whitney Houston had George Foreman’s propensity for naming things after herself. Hence, her albums Whitney and Whitney Houston. Which one you prefer comes down to taste. One album has “I Wanna Dance (with Someone who Loves Me)” and the other has “How Will I Know.” You should have both.

3. Babyface: Unplugged

Babyface wrote every R&B song that you love from the 90s. He sings them here with the help of some ridiculously talented friends. (Seriously, he opens the concert with Eric Clapton and closes it with Stevie Wonder.)

4. Mariah Carey: Daydream

Mariah Carey’s made a lot of hits, but there’s a good chance that your favorite Mariah song is on Daydream: “Always Be My Baby,” “Under the Stars,” “One Sweet Day,” and “Fantasy”—not the “Fantasy Remix” though, but you can get that for free too.

5. Usher: Confessions

It’s been long enough. It’s safe to listen to “Yeah!” again.


6. Michael Jackson: Off the Wall

You probably already own Thriller and Bad. Go back to that incendiary moment just before Michael Jackson became the most famous person on the planet.

7. The Jacksons: Destiny

Want a hot take? Michael Jackson didn’t make his best jam with Quincy Jones or even while he was on Motown.

Jackson never jammed harder than on “Blame it on the Boogie.” Listen for free and see if you agree.

8. Toni Braxton: Secrets

If you’re slow-jam tape doesn’t have “You’re Makin’ Me High,” then you need to fix that problem immediately.

9. Sade: The Best of Sade

Speaking of slow jams…

10. T-Pain: Happy Hour—The Best of T-Pain

Didn’t like T-Pain when he was on the radio every six minutes? Go back. He’s better than you remember. He had a knack for melody that no amount of autotune can dilute.


11. Beyonce: Dangerously in Love

Queen B’s “Crazy in Love” is still four minutes of audio adrenaline.

12. The O’Jays: Backstabbers

“Back Stabbers” and “Love Train” are the big hits, but this whole album exemplies the Gamble-Huff soul sound at its zenith.

13. John Legend: Love in the Future

John Legend quietly keeps getting better and better.

14. Aaliyah: Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number

The good news: Aaliyah’s debut is as good as you remember. The bad news: This will just make you miss her more.

15. D’Angelo & the Vanguard: Black Messiah

We all assumed that D’Angelo was going to go the way of Lauryn Hill, Yuri Norstein, or any other tortured artist who never quite fulfilled their promise. Then he reappeared with one of the best albums of the year.

16. Aretha Franklin: Sings the Great Diva Classics

Aretha Franklin’s version of “Rolling in the Deep” reminded Adele who had the throne first.

17: Luther Vandross: Never Too Much

Dance to “Never too Much,” then cry to “A House Is not a Home.”

raycharles198318: Ray Charles: Jazz Masters Deluxe Collection

Ray Charles is so incredible that Jamie Foxx won an Academy Award for imitating him.

19: Jamie Foxx: Unpredictable

Speaking of which, this and Ray were the one-two punch that announced Jamie Foxx was so much more than a funnyman.

19: Alicia Keys: The Diary of Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys gets plaintive on “You Don’t Know my Name,” fierce on “Karma,” and soulful on “If I Ain’t Got You.”

21: Az Yet: Az Yet

Babyface decided to build his own Boyz II Men. He got close, at least with “Last Night.”

22. Ginuwine: …The Bachelor

And now you have “Pony” stuck in your head.

23. The Delfonics: La-La Means I Love You

The Delfonics don’t get mentioned as often as The Temptations or Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes; but “Ready or Not,” “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind this Time” and the title track are stone-cold classics.

24: Chris Brown: Royalty

Sure, I guess.

25: Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

OK, Unplugged, the abandoned Fugees reunion, and those occasional soundtrack loosies never quite sated our thirst for more Lauryn Hill, but Miseducation is still perfect.

Other Freegal playlists:

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Our Wordplay Writing Club Tries Na-No-Wri-Mo

Our Wordplay Writing Club composes a story together, using dice with different storytelling suggestions on each side.

Our Wordplay Writing Club composes a story together, using dice with different storytelling suggestions on each side.

Our Wordplay Writing Club is trying to compose a story together, and it’s more creative than linear.

They use storytelling dice with a different suggestions on each face, so every roll adds a new element to the story

So far, we have a three friends visiting Egypt, a cursed snake, an exploding pyramid, a hidden city, and a cursed treasure.

If they can hammer out a second draft, their story is a Hollywood blockbuster waiting to happen.

Emma and Justice work on their stories during our monthly Wordplay meeting.

Emma and Justice work on their stories during our monthly Wordplay meeting.

But this is National Novel Writing Month—the perfect time for big ideas and wild first drafts. And Wordplay, our writing club for kids, is participating too.

Young writers can come to our Open Write from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29. Bring your ideas, your notebook and stories to work on. There will be no planned activities—just time to write and a few prompts.

Each month, our Wordplay Club finds different ways to boost their creativity. For example, sometimes we commune with nature or create poems with refrigerator magnets.

Our club is open to all writers in third through sixth grade.

Wordplay Creative Writing Club meets at 4:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month at our Main Branch. The next meeting is Dec. 14.

You can register your child for Wordplay by calling (440) 255-8811 ext. 221 or by visiting the Mentor Library’s website.

And, in case you're wondering how their collaborative story ends, all the characters die and their bodies are left in a well. Kids can sometimes be ... macabre.

And, in case you’re wondering how their collaborative story ends, all the characters die and their bodies are left in a well. Kids can sometimes be … macabre.

For more National Novel Writing Month fun:

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Celebrating International Games Day

We’ll always love books at the library (obviously,) but we’re gamers too. So we celebrated International Games Day with a Just Dance dance party and a Super Smash Bros tournament.

And playtime isn’t over yet.

Kids can join us for an afternoon of gaming when our new Video Game Club launches next year.

Our first meeting is at 4 p.m. on Thursday, January 19, at our Main Branch. We’ll be playing Mario Kart! (Remember, blue shells ruin friendships.)

There will also be tabletop and board games to play, so you can still have fun while you’re waiting for a controller.

We’ll meet the third Thursday of each month—each time with a different mix of games. It’s free and open to all kids in third through sixth grade.

If you’re in seventh grade or older but still want to play, check out the Clashing Controllers Club where we host monthly video-game tournaments. Our next one is Dec. 20 at our Lake Branch. The tournaments are free to enter and open to all teens. No registration necessary.

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5 Things You Didn’t Know about the Gettysburg Address

gettysbug-addressExactly 153 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln spoke at a newly commemorated national cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

He spoke briefly—a mere 262 words—but those words are still remembered verbatim by hundreds of people, and even the most apolitical Americans can recall its most famous phrases: “Four score and seven years ago;” “the last full measure of devotion;” “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Todd Arrington from James A. Garfield National Historic Site visited us earlier this month to deconstruct the Gettysburg Address.

Here are five things you might not know about Lincoln’s famous speech.

1. Abraham Lincoln received a last-minute invitation to the ceremony

Lincoln wasn’t the keynote speaker that day. (More on that later.) Instead, David Wills—a local attorney who had spearheaded the creation of the national cemetery in Gettysburg—sent him a letter earlier that month, encouraging the president to attend and offer “a few appropriate remarks.”

2. Lincoln barely spoke for two minutes

Lincoln’s comments were so concise that none of the newspaper photographers could snap a photo of him while he spoke. (Remember, photography was much more of an ordeal back then.) Lincoln concluded his remarks before anyone could ready their camera.

3. Lincoln was not the primary speaker that day

As previously alluded, Lincoln’s speech was intended as an epilogue for the ceremony. The keynote speaker was Edward Everett—a renowned orator who served as the president of Harvard, ambassador to Britain, senator, and governor of Massachusetts during his life.

He spoke for two hours. While pretty much everyone has heard of the Gettysburg Address, almost no one can muster a word that Everett spoke that day.

4. Lincoln did not initially realize the historic import of his speech

Historically speaking, Lincoln got a lot of things right. However, he misjudged how his speech would be remembered. During his address, he said, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”

He was only half right.

5. Not everyone was impressed by the Gettysburg Address

Shortly after Lincoln’s speech, Harrisburg’s Patriot & Union (a Democrat newspaper) panned it. They published:

We pass over the silly remarks of the President. For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall be no more repeated or thought of.

But 150 years later, they retracted their critique.

For what it counts, Edward Everett realized that he had been upstaged. He later wrote Lincoln, saying, “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

Learn about the Road to Appomattox during a free talk

Learn about the Road to Appomattox during a free talk on Thursday, Dec. 15, at Mentor Public Library’s Main Branch.

Our ongoing Civil War series continues in December.

At noon on Wednesday, Dec. 14, we’ll discuss the history and legacy of Confederate General James Longstreet.

Then, we’ll talk about Grant’s pursuit of Lee and the road to Appomattox at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 15.

Both talks will be at our Main Branch. They are free and open to the public.

The speakers are rangers or park volunteers from James A. Garfield National Historic Site—which also holds a wealth of information on the Civil War where President Garfield served as a brigadier general.

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Get information on the Affordable Care Act

Get information about the Affordable Care Act during a pair of information sessions at Mentor Public Library.

Get information about the Affordable Care Act during a pair of information sessions at Mentor Public Library.

Do you have questions or concerns about the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare?

Mentor Public Library is hosting a pair of information sessions about the ACA with Lori Lipton, a licensed agent, at our Main Branch. She’ll provide an overview of the Affordable Care Act and will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

The first session is at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30; the second session is 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3.

Both sessions are free and open to everyone. You can register for the program on our event calendar or by calling the library at 440-255-8811 ext. 204.

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