Mica Paris: Wikis

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Mica Paris
Birth name Michelle Wallen
Born 27 April 1969 (1969-04-27) (age 40)
South London, England
Genres Soul, gospel, R&B, jazz
Occupations Singer, presenter
Years active 1985–present
Labels Rhythm Riders, Island[1]
Website www.micaparis.com

Mica Paris (born Michelle Wallen, 27 April 1969, South London[2]) is an English soul singer, radio and television presenter, and occasional actress. Her forename is pronounced Misha. She attended Lewisham Girls Secondary School .

Contents

The Singer

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The beginnings

Mica Paris's roots are in soul and gospel music. She grew up singing in her grandparents' church and by her mid teens was making regular appearances with 'The Spirit of Watts' gospel choir (with whom she featured on the 1985 EP Gospel Joy).[2]. Mica abbreviated her forename to Micha before adopting a "phonetic version". She was soon noticed as a distinctive voice and at seventeen got her first break as a backing vocalist with the UK chart band Hollywood Beyond. Mica appeared on their album, If (1985).[2]

The range, power, and sheer soulfulness of her singing made a major impact on the UK scene and in the following year, 1988, she released her debut, platinum-selling album So Good with 4th & Broadway when she was 19 years old.[2] "My One Temptation" was the lead single. This led to a collaboration with American soul singer Will Downing on a cover version of a classic "Where Is the Love", made famous by Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack in the early 1970s.[2]

The 1990s

The follow-up album, Contribution was released in 1991. This extended Mica's soul and gospel influences to bring in hip-hop and house music and featured the track "If I Love U 2 Nite", written especially for Mica by Prince, which she recorded at his Paisley Park studios.[2]

With Omar Lye-Fook, a classically trained musician Paris recorded "I Should Have Known Better" in 1990. It was issued on the B-side to "I Never Felt Like This Before". Paris also recorded with Anita Baker, Bonnie Raitt and Natalie Cole on the album Nelson Mandela: An International Tribute for a Free South Africa (1990), and provided the title track to Isaac Julien's Young Soul Rebels movie soundtrack the following year. She worked with the saxophonist Courtney Pine ("Redemption Song" - 1992), the Stereo MCs ("Don't Let Up" - 1992) and Bobby Womack ("I Wish I'd Never Met You" - 1991).

Her third album, Whisper A Prayer (1993) marked another departure for Mica, fusing soul, jazz and blues with lush string arrangements. Garnering further top twenty singles ' Never Felt Like This Before and ' Wanna Hold On To You'. This followed by more collaboration work on album tracks with Guru on his Jazzmatazz II ("Looking Through Darkness" in 1995), Mark Morrison ("Tears For You" - 1996) and Maxwell ("Mantra" - 1996).

Paris released the album Black Angel on Chrysalis in 1998. It contained a cover version of U2's "One", and a duet with James Ingram. "Black Angel" produced two more top twenty singles 'Stay' and 'Carefree'. More collaborations followed with Omar ("Confection" - 1994), Max Beesley ("High Vibes" - 1994), Dubversive ("Police & Thieves" - 1998), the Mobo All Stars compilation album in 1998, Mister Exe ("One Million Smiles" - 1998), Prince ("Just My Imagination" - 2000) and Boy George ("I Could Be Someone" - 2000). A particularly memorable collaboration with Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and Jools Holland on Screamin' Jay Hawkins' classic track, '("I Put A Spell On You' followed in 2001. The trio had regrouped on numerous occasions to perform the hit.

A best of collection was released in 1999.

2000 - 2009

Two years later Paris lent her voice to Walt Disney Pictures (Touchstone Pictures) soundtrack for, High Heels and Low Lifes, which was later included in the Primal Screen soundtrack compilation album (2001).

In 2003, following 3 sellout nights at London's The Jazz Cafe Mica released the Moby sampling 'Heart' with Seraphim Suite. Mica also joined Omar onstage for his gig at The Shepherds Bush Empire. She also contributed to the track 'I Don't Understand' on Milk & Sugar album Housmusic.de. 2004 saw Mica feature as a guest on 'The new Inspirational Choir' album 'Inspirations' along with Keisha White and Jocelyn Brown. This took Mica back to her Gospel roots.

Mica collaborated on the track 'Bodyswerve' by M-Gee in 2005. The track was incredibly successful in the club charts and can be found on many dance compilations released to this day.

In 2005, Paris released the album If You Could Love Me (Wounded Bird Records), featuring backing from the Brecker Brothers on the title track, with Executive Producer Andreas Neumann and Producer Bernard Grobman. Also in 2005, she released an album, Soul Classics, with Executive Producers Rick Blaskey and Andreas Neumann in a collection of the most celebrated and loved soul tracks chosen by listeners of her BBC Radio 2 programme 'Soul Solutions' and then jetted off to Australia for a few months to do some live performances at the Basement in Sydney.[2] Mica can also be found duetting on the track 'Run' with Jimmy Barnes on his 2005 "Double Happiness" album.

Mica collaborated with Lemar on the track 'Can't you see' on his album 'The Truth About Love' in 2006. In February 2008 Mica released the duet 'Secret lovers' with Alexander O'Neal. This was followed by a resedency at the Indigo 02 'Mica Paris & friends' in May and every last Sunday of each month.

Throughout these years Mica actively engaged her other talents, as a television presenter, an actress and author. These are discussed in detail in a later portion of the article.

Born Again

Mica's latest album, entitled Born Again, indicates a fully fledged return to her first passion: music. She embarked on a nationwide tour meeting fans old and new and reminding her millions of TV fans what first put her in the public eye twenty-two years ago. This included sell out dates at the Jazz Cafe in February 2009 to showcase her upcoming material. The album was released on 1 June and was produced by the legendary 'hit-maker', Brian Rawling. James Morrison wrote Mica's first single, 'Baby Come Back Now'--an up-tempo retro tune, penned especially for Mica's soaring vocals.[2]

Other work

Television and radio

Although she remained behind the microphone, in 2002 Paris moved to the presenter's chair, when she hosted the 'Soul Solutions' programme on BBC Radio 2 and narrated several music documentaries for the station.

She also presented the 2002 Channel 4 television documentary The Gospel of Gospel which revealed the influence of the black American church tradition on pop music. Produced and directed by David Upshal, it featured contributions from Ray Charles, Isaac Hayes, B. B. King, Al Green, Chaka Khan, Alexander O'Neal, Edwin Hawkins, The Blind Boys of Alabama and Mary Mary. Furthermore, she broadcast a two-part show, 'Purple Reign: The Prince Story', on BBC Radio 2 which covered the entirety of the American artist's controversial career and featured interviews with George Clinton, Chaka Khan and Jimmy Jam..[2]

In 2005 she appeared on week three of the ITV reality show, Hit Me, Baby, One More Time, which was won by Carol Decker. The same year she made an appearance in, and was the winner of, week one in the second series of Come Dine With Me. From 2007, she was a co-host for two seasons of the popular consumer style programme, What Not to Wear for BBC Television. Other television presenting has followed with Mica being and expert judge on Gok Wan's Miss Naked Beautyfor Channel 4 and ITV's CelebAir. On 8 July 2008, Mica, her mother, father and sister appeared as The Paris Brigade on series 4 episode 9 of Gordon Ramsay's The F Word, as part of the celebrity brigades series.

Mica has continued to appear on a variety of television programmes-–from Channel 5's news talk show, The Wright Stuff, ITV1's all-female panel talk show, Loose Women, and BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing.

Theatre

In 1993, Mica turned to the stage, where she starred in two acclaimed West End shows, 'Mama I Want to Sing' and 'Sweet Lorraine'.[2]

In October 2004, Paris took part in the UK tour of the stage play, The Vagina Monologues.

In 2007, she played the part of Amelia Walker, a (fictitious) American jazz singer, in a drama made for television, Marple: At Bertram's Hotel; during the drama the character gives a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and also sings with Louis Armstrong's band in the hotel dining room whilst both were guests at the hotel, which was central to the plot.

Author

While presenting 'What Not To Wear', Mica encountered many woman whose stories touched her. She began to examine her own life and choices and was compelled to tell her story in a bid to inspire confidence and self- esteem to those woman and others that find life overwhelming at times. Thus her book "Beautiful Within: Finding Happiness and Confidence in Your Own Skin" was born. It was published by Simon & Shuster UK. ISBN 1847370853, ISBN 9781847370853 and was an instant hit. The paperback was released August 2008.

Miscellaneous

She has also designed a pillow-case for ByteNight a charity event organized to raise funds for the NCH and youth homelessness.

Mica is an ambassador of Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident and has been since 2001 when her brother was shot dead whilst at work.

Awards

2003 saw Mica being presented with the Gold Badge Award by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters for her special contribution to the British entertainment industry. In 2004 Mica was in the top 10 list of the 100 Great Black Britons which was compiled to celebrate the achievements and contributions made by the British Black community over the centuries.

Personal life

Paris' sister Paula Wallen was also a pop music singer. Paula was known as Alysha Warren and she recorded in the late 1980s to the mid 1990s. She is now psalmist Paula Wallen. Paris is the cousin of the former World Champion British boxer, Chris Eubank.

Paris has two daughters Monet (born 1991) and Russia Mae (born June 2006). In 2008 Monet began working on her own debut album.

Discography

Albums

Year Title Chart Positions Singles
UK[3 ] U.S.[4] U.S. R&B[4]
1988 So Good 6 86 29 "My One Temptation"
"Like Dreamers Do" (featuring Courtney Pine)
"Breathe Life Into Me"
"Where Is The Love" (with Will Downing)
1990 Contribution 26 58 "Contribution"
"South Of The River"
"If I Love U 2 Nite"
1993 Whisper A Prayer 20 99 "I Never Felt Like This Before"
"I Wanna Hold On To You"
"Two In A Million"
"Whisper A Prayer"
1998 Black Angel 59 "One"
"Stay"
"Black Angel"
1999 The Best Of Mica Paris
  • First compilation
  • Label: Spectrum Records
  • Released: 28 June 1999
2005 If You Could Love Me
  • Fifth studio album
  • Label: Wounded Bird
  • Released: 4 April 2005 (U.S.)
2005 Soul Classics
  • Cover album
  • Label: Sanctuary
  • Released: 26 September 2005
"Tracks of My Tears"
2009 Born Again
  • Sixth studio album
  • Label: Rhythm Riders
  • Released: 1 June 2009
"Baby Come Back Now"

Singles

Year Title Album Chart positions
UK[3 ] U.S.[5] U.S. R&B[5] U.S. AC[5] U.S. Dance[5] IRE NZ
1988 "My One Temptation" So Good
7
97
15
8
36
15
"Like Dreamers Do" (featuring Courtney Pine)
26
"Breathe Life Into Me"
26
24
1989 "Where Is the Love" (with Will Downing)
19
21
1990 "Contribution" Contribution
33
39
20
"South Of The River"
50
59
1991 "If I Love U 2 Nite"
43
"Young Soul Rebels" Young Soul Rebels Soundtrack
61
1993 "I Never Felt Like This Before" Whisper A Prayer
15
"I Wanna Hold On To You"
27
46
"Two In A Million"
51
"Whisper A Prayer"
65
1995 "One"
29
50
1998 "Stay" Black Angel
40
31
"Black Angel"
72
2005 "Tracks of My Tears" Soul Classics
2009 "Baby Come Back Now" Born Again

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.geocities.com//patmil007/joejune2554.jpg
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Biography by Mica Paris". MicaParis.com. http://www.micaparis.com/bio.html. Retrieved 28 May 2009.  
  3. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 417. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.  
  4. ^ a b Allmusic.com - Charts & Awards (albums)
  5. ^ a b c d Allmusic.com - Charts & Awards (singles)

External links


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