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|Birth name||Michelle Antoinette Wallen|
27 April 1969 |
Islington, London, England
|Genres||Soul, gospel, R&B, jazz|
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). She abbreviated her forename to Micha, before adopting a "phonetic version".[dubious ] At the age of seventeen, she got her first break as a backing vocalist with the UK band Hollywood Beyond. Paris appeared on their album, If (1985).
In 1988, she released her debut, platinum-selling album So Good with 4th & Broadway when she was 19 years old. "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.
The follow-up album, Contribution was released in 1990. This extended Paris' soul and gospel influences to bring in hip-hop and house music and featured the track "If I Love U 2 Nite", written by Prince and recorded at his Paisley Park studios.
With Omar Lye-Fook, a classically trained musician Paris recorded "I Should've Known Better" in 1990. It was issued on the B-side to "South Of The River". 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 was Whisper a Prayer (1993), which included the Top 20 singles "I Never Felt Like This Before" and "I Wanna Hold On To You", also she recorded "You Put a Move On My Heart" which was later recorded by Tamia in 1995 on Quincy Jones's Q's Juke Joint album. 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 20 singles in "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 collaboration with David Gilmour and Jools Holland on Screamin' Jay Hawkins' track "I Put A Spell On You" followed in 2001. The trio had regrouped on 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 three sellout nights at London's The Jazz Cafe, Paris released the Moby sampling "Heart" with Seraphim Suite. Paris 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. 2004 saw Paris feature as a guest on The New Inspirational Choir's album Inspirations along with Keisha White and Jocelyn Brown.
Paris collaborated on the track "Bodyswerve" by M-Gee in 2005. The track was successful in the club charts and can be found on many dance compilation albums.
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. It was a collection of the most celebrated soul tracks chosen by listeners of her BBC Radio 2 programme Soul Solutions. She travelled to Australia for a few months to do some live performances at the Basement in Sydney. Paris can also be found duetting on the track "Run" with Jimmy Barnes on his 2005 Double Happiness album.
Paris collaborated with Lemar on the track "Can't You See" on his album The Truth About Love in 2006. In February 2008 she released the duet "Secret Lovers" with Alexander O'Neal. This was followed by a residency at the Indigo 02.
Paris' latest album, Born Again, was released in June 2009. She embarked on a nationwide tour, which included sell out dates at the Jazz Cafe in February 2009 to showcase her upcoming material. The album was produced by Brian Rawling. James Morrison wrote Paris' first single, "Baby Come Back Now".
Paris released the second single from Born Again, on 17 August 2009. The track "The Hardest Thing" was remixed by Stonebridge, Almighty and 2Darc. Paris performed at various venues prior to the release from the album in March 2010 of the title track "Born Again".
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. She 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. She was narrator on an award winning documentary featuring Diana Ross focusing on her European and international success rather than her megastar status in the states.
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 Paris being an expert judge on Gok Wan's Miss Naked Beauty for Channel 4 and ITV's CelebAir.
In 2007, she played the part of Amelia Walker, a (fictitious) American jazz singer, in At Bertram's Hotel, an episode of the ITV series Marple. During the drama the character gives a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and also sings with Louis Armstrong's band rehearsing in the hotel dining room whilst both were guests at the hotel.
On 8 July 2008, Paris, 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. Paris 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, The Michael Ball Show, and BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing.
During 2013 Mica has become a regular guest on ITV's flagship show This Morning.
In the Summer of 2015, Paris will take part in the new UK tour of the musical "Love me Tender".
While presenting What Not To Wear, Paris encountered many women 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 women and others. Her book Beautiful Within: Finding Happiness and Confidence in Your Own Skin was published by Simon & Schuster UK; ISBN 1-84737-085-3. The paperback was released in August 2008.
She has also designed a pillow-case for ByteNight a charity event organised to raise funds for the NCH and youth homelessness. Mica is the patron for the Space For Music project, the project to renovate Band on the Wall a venue owned and operated by registered charity Inner City Music Ltd. Mica is an Ambassador for The Amy Winehouse Foundation and has sung at many special fundraising occasions for the charity including their 2012 Ball. She is also currently supporting the "No Means No" anti-rape and gender equality campaign set up by the largest free local newspaper for English expats in Spain, Euro Weekly News.
2003 saw Paris 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 she 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.
Paris's sister, Paula Wallen, was also a pop music singer. She was known as Alysha Warren, and recorded in the late 1980s to the mid-1990s. She is now working as a psalmist under her original name. Paris is the cousin of the former World Champion British boxer Chris Eubank.
She has two daughters; Monet (born 1991) and Russia-Mae (born June 2006). In 2008, Monet began working on her own debut album.
- So Good (1988)
- Contribution (1990)
- Whisper a Prayer (1993)
- Black Angel (1998)
- If You Could Love Me (2005)
- Soul Classics (2005)
- Born Again (2009)
- List of black Britons
- List of performers on Top of the Pops
- List of former Island Records artists
- List of stage names
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