Legendary music producer Arif Mardin happily took control of Queen LATIFAH's new standards album after watching her perform SARAH VAUGHAN classic LUSH LIFE in a little known 1998 movie.

Mardin, 71, who has worked with leading ladies like Aretha Franklin, Cher, Chaka Khan and Roberta Flack in the studio, was stunned when he heard Latifah bash out the jazz standard in LIVING OUT LOUD.

And while many industry experts were shocked to hear the fussy producer was arranging and overseeing the rapper-turned-actress' new album of classic covers, Mardin admits his choice was an easy one.

He says, "They came to me at my home and told me they wanted to record a standards album of forgotten classics. My wife's called LATIFAH, so I had a picture taken with me between the two Queen Latifahs. I knew I wanted to do this.

"She's a fantastic singer. Everyone thinks of her as hip-hop but she's as good as Sarah Vaughan. We're very excited."

23/01/2004 09:26