Whisper a Prayer

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Whisper a Prayer
Studio album by Mica Paris
Released June 8, 1993 (1993-06-08)
Recorded Spring 1992 - Spring 1993 at the Castle Oaks Studios (Calabasas, CA), Lighthouse Recorders, (N. Hollywood, LA), Music Grinder, Ocean Way, (Los Angeles, CA), NRG (N. Hollywood, LA), Mankind (Encino, CA), Tarpan Studios (San Rafael, CA)[1]
Genre R&B, soul
Length 63:25
Label 4th & B'way
Producer Narada Michael Walden, Mike Mani, Rod Temperton, Jon Lind, Mica Paris, Paul Johnson, Driza Bone
Mica Paris chronology
Contribution
(1991)
Whisper a Prayer
(1993)
Black Angel
(1998)
Singles from Whisper a Prayer
  1. "I Never Felt Like This Before"
    Released: 1993
  2. "I Wanna Hold On to You"
    Released: 1993
  3. "Two In a Million"
    Released: 1993
  4. "Whisper a Prayer"
    Released: 1993

Whisper a Prayer is the third studio album by British singer-songwriter Mica Paris. It was released on June 8, 1993 by 4th & B'way Records, her last for the label. Recording sessions for the album commenced in the spring of 1992 and concluded the following spring with Paris co-writing four of the twelve songs and producing one. Whisper a Prayer features writing and production from Narada Michael Walden, Rod Temperton and Terry Britten all of whom were top record producers at the time.

The album has received acclaim from critics who complimented the quality of the writing and production in addition to Paris' voice and delivery of the songs. The album was a moderate commercial success, bettering its predecessor Contribution on the UK Albums Chart, debuting at number twenty. It was less successful in the US where it peaked at ninety-nine on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

Four singles were released from the album, two of which were top thirty hits on the UK Singles Chart. Lead single "I Never Felt Like This Before" became Paris' highest appearance on the chart since her top-ten debut "My One Temptation", peaking at number fifteen. Second single, "I Wanna Hold On To You" peaked at number twenty-seven and was the only single from the album to chart in the US, reaching forty-six on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

The Rod Temperton composition, "You Put a Move on My Heart", was covered and released by American recording artist Tamia and record producer Quincy Jones in 1995.[2] Their version became a top twenty hit on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[3]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[4]
BBC (Positive)[5]

Whisper a Prayer has received general acclaim from critics. Allmusic editor, Andrew Hamilton listed "Positivity" and "Can't Seem to Make Up My Mind", both co-written by Paris, as "favorites", adding that "her original version of "You Put a Move on My Heart" sounds better than Tamia's version" featured on Quincy Jones' Jook Joint album. Hamilton also praised Paris' vocal performances, writing "she delivers these songs in her smooth, jazz- and blues-influenced, intense but relaxed style". In addition to this, Hamilton expressed that Paris "is the most exciting female vocalist to come along in some time" but noted that "unlike her first LP, which scored a minor R&B hit with "My One Temptation", none of these excellent songs made much of an impact".[4]

In a retrospective review, BBC Music editor Daryl Easlea described Paris as "one of the UK’s greatest soul divas" and wrote that "working with what only could be deemed a stellar cast [...] Island looked at Whisper a Prayer as being Paris’ true breakthrough album". Easlea described the album as a "a remarkable pedigree" thanks in part to "backing singers like Siedah Garrett, producers including Narada Michael Walden and Rod Temperton, and writers such as Graham Lyle on board". Easlea described "I Bless the Day" as "sweet and light, floating along with Paris’ emotive voice at once commanding and sensitive" and the "Drizabone-mixed swingbeat of Two in a Million" as "spry and sugary". However, Easlea wrote that "the only thing that lets the Whisper a Prayer down is its instrumentation". Using "You Put a Move on My Heart" as one such an example he wrote, "a song as beautiful and passionately delivered [...] you long for it being recorded at a different time, not with Paris in front of a keyboard with an orchestra setting button and a drum machine". He also noted the "90s contraptions [...] present and correct on the album’s opener, I Never Felt This Way Before", writing that "it may be ultra-smooth but the overall effect is like a cut-price version of a cut from Anita Baker’s Rapture".[5]

Andrew Hamilton also reviewed "You Put a Move on My Heart" favorably, writing "Mica Paris' original rendition of Rod Temperton's ballad supreme[...]shames Tamia's more successful rendition". Though he noted that the sales of Whisper a Prayer "pale in comparison" to Q's Jook Joint - on which Tamia's cover is featured - he wrote that "Paris' glorious tone, however, never pales; it glows like a warm fire as the devastating British woman squeezes the last drop of soul from the lyrics."[2]

Commercial reception[edit]

Whisper a Prayer debuted and peaked at number twenty on the UK Albums Chart making it her second top twenty appearance on the chart. In its second week the album dropped one place to twenty-one and thirty in its third before making its last appearance on the chart at number sixty-one in its fourth week.[6] In the US, Whisper a Prayer peaked at ninety-nine on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, where it spent a single week. It is Paris' last album to appear on any Billboard chart.[7]

Singles[edit]

Four singles were released from Whisper a Prayer, the first being the Narada Michael Walden production "I Never Felt Like This Before", written by Walden and Sally Jo Dakota. "I Never Felt Like This Before" debuted at number twenty-three on the UK Singles Chart, rising and peaking at number fifteen in its second week, becoming Paris' third and last top twenty appearance on the chart after 1989's "Where is the Love" with Will Downing.[8]

Walden also produced the second single, "I Wanna Hold on to You", which debuted and peaked at number twenty-seven on the UK Singles Chart whilst in the US, it peaked at forty-six on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[9] It is the only single from the album and Paris' last to appear on a Billboard chart.[10] Third and fourth singles "Two in a Million" and title track "Whisper a Prayer" were minor successes in the UK peaking at fifty-one and sixty-five respectively.[11][12] "I Wanna Hold on to You" was sampled by 2Pac on "Nothing to Lose", posthumously released on R U Still Down? (Remember Me).

Tracklisting[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "I Never Felt Like This Before"   Narada Michael Walden, Sally Jo Dakota Narada Michael Walden 4:30
2. "I Wanna Hold on to You"   Narada Michael Walden, Mica Paris, Sally Jo Dakota Narada Michael Walden, Mike Mani 5:10
3. "You Put a Move on My Heart"   Rod Temperton Rod Temperton 6:06
4. "We Were Made for Love"   Rod Temperton Rod Temperton 4:50
5. "Whisper a Prayer"   Jon Lind, Phil Galdston, Wendy Waldman Jon Lind 5:50
6. "Too Far Apart"   Narada Michael Walden, Mica Paris, Sally Jo Dakota Narada Michael Walden 5:36
7. "I Bless the Day"   Terry Britten, Graham Lyle Mica Paris, Paul Johnson 4:50
8. "Two in a Million"   Rod Temperton Rod Temperton, Driza Bone 3:52
9. "Positivity"   Narada Michael Walden, Mica Paris, Sylvester Jackson Narada Michael Walden 5:14
10. "Can't Seem to Make Up My Mind"   Narada Michael Walden, Mica Paris, Sally Jo Dakota Narada Michael Walden 5:54
11. "You Got a Special Way"   Narada Michael Walden, Mike Mani, Monty Seward, Deena Charles Narada Michael Walden 5:22
12. "Love Keeps Coming Back"   Rod Temperton Rod Temperton 7:20
Total length:
63:25

Charts[edit]

Chart (1993) Peak
position
UK Albums (OCC)[6] 20
US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums (Billboard)[7] 99

Credits[edit]

Credits obtained from the album's linear notes.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Whisper a Prayer (CD booklet). Mica Paris. 4th & B'way Records. 1993. 
  2. ^ a b Hamilton, Andrew. "You Put a Move on My Heart - Mica Paris". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved November 1, 2012. 
  3. ^ "You Put a Move on My Heart - Quincy Jones". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 1 November, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Hamilton, Andrew. "Whisper a Prayer - Mica Paris". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved October 29, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Daryl Easlea (2010-11-02). "BBC - Music - Review of Mica Paris - Whisper a Prayer". BBC. Retrieved October 29, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "1990-10-27 Top 40 Official UK Albums Archive | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 29 Dec 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Mica Paris Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums for Mica Paris. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 29 October, 2012.
  8. ^ "The Official Charts Company - I Never Felt Like This Before by Mica Paris Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "The Official Charts Company - I Wanna Hold On To You by Mica Paris Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "Mica Paris Album & Chart History (Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 1 November, 2012. 
  11. ^ "The Official Charts Company - Two In A Million by Mica Paris Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "The Official Charts Company - Whisper A Prayer by Mica Paris Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013.