Mica Paris: Why I am so excited to be playing Liverpool’s St George’s Hall

Posted on 11 May 2016
By Chris High
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Mica Paris burst onto the music scene in 1988 with her international hit My One Temptation and double platinum selling album So Good. Since then, Mica has appeared on television and stage and this Saturday, May 14th, returns to Liverpool to perform at St George’s Hall Small Concert Room to sing some of the greatest Soul songs ever produced. A far cry from where it all began.

“It all started when I was about 4 and I was singing Rupert the Bear and my grandmother started telling everybody I had this voice that needed to be listened to,” Mica explained recently. “I then started singing in church all the time and became a bit of a star of the Gospel scene which is massive in the UK. I won my first award at 11, at the Convention for Pentecostal Music which is held at Wembley, then I got signed by Island Records at 17 which is where all went a bit crazy.”

At 19, Mica released So Good to national and international acclaim. “We took about 18 months to make the album and then the promotion and everything else that goes with it became like a whirlwind. Still, although looking back it was all a bit extreme, you just sort of got on with it.”

The Small Concert Room at St George’s Hall is, as anybody who has been to an event there, a very intimate setting which is something Mica is very much looking forward to. “I really like to connect with the audience and feel as though they are kind of in my front room,” she laughed. “When you play the bigger shows you lose some of that closeness to the audience so I’m really looking forward to this gig.”

Mica Paris last appeared in Liverpool in August 2015 in the Juke Box musical Love Me Tender at The Liverpool Empire, playing Sylvia to rave reviews. “I have to say that I am really cynical about musical theatre shows like these and I hadn’t done any theatre in twenty years. In fact the last thing I’d done was a Gospel musical in The West End with Chaka Khan.

“So when Love Me tender was first put to me I wasn’t really that interested. Then I read the script and thought ‘Oh my word, this is a lark’. It isn’t karaoke but is really an interpretation of some of Elvis’ greatest songs. I had a really, really great time doing that show and, in the end, I was really shocked that it didn’t make it to the West End because it is that good and fully deserves another go around.”

Love Me Tender was in the city for an unusually long two week run at The Empire. Unfortunately, though, with theatre being the way it is, Mica didn’t get chance to see the venue she will be performing in on Saturday.

“Theatre is pretty full on and I was constantly in the venue itself, either performing or preparing. You kind of get so absorbed into the show that there isn’t really time for anything else, which is where it differs from being a singer on tour. I’ll be checking it out before I sing there though, because I love anything to do with history and architecture. I’m really excited to be playing there.”

Mica is also busy appearing regularly on TV and Radio, most notably presenting the 2002 Channel 4 television documentary The Gospel of Gospel which revealed the influence of the black American church tradition on pop music and 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. Mica also appeared with Gok Wan in What Not To Wear for BBC One and Loose Women on ITV.

“I absolutely love doing the work on TV and Radio, basically because I love to know what’s going on. That’s what comes from being nosey, I guess. I also love talking to other artists because, as an artist yourself, you can have a conversation rather than an interview which makes the experience more fun in a way because we can both draw on the same things.

“With the TV documentaries it was the same thing, but with me trying to get into other women’s heads and understand a wide range of what it is that affects women today, how they overcome their problems and how they can feel good about themselves. It is really inspirational. Seeing some of the outcomes was almost like finishing a great gig for me, it was so uplifting.”

But it is really the music that drives Mica Paris. “Because I do all of these other things, when I come back to performing the music live it feels like it did when I sang for the first time: fresh and energising and pretty much what I was born to do. I really love it that much.”

While presenting What Not To Wear, Mica encountered many women whose stories touched her and 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 in 2008.

“What was really funny with that was the fact that I’d written it 10 years before it was actually published. The thing with What Not To Wear is that it is real and we get to spend a couple of days sometimes with each person, so you really get involved in their lives.

“I also had a lot of women writing to me on the back of the show and, while I couldn’t reach them all personally, I thought about the draft manuscript I’d written all those years before about the industry and what’s expected of women in it and took it from there. We edited the manuscript and added a few things, but ostensibly it was the book I’d written ten years previously.”

And fans will be delighted to hear that there is a new album in the offing. “Yeah, album Number 8 is underway, which is sounding great. We’re also going to record one of the shows from the tour and release my first live album as well. Not everybody can make the shows and this will be for those who can’t, so that they can get up and do a bit of dancing to the music just like the audience at St George’s will be doing on Saturday night.

“We don’t just do the hits, either. I put bits of Funk in the set, some Jazz and a little bit of Gospel too so everybody had better polish up their dancing shoes because they are sure going to need them. Particularly as this is Liverpool and you guys really know what Soul Music is all about.”

Mica Paris: Queen of Soul will be at St George’s Hall Liverpool on Saturday May 14th. For Tickets: 0844 800 0410 www.ticketquarter.co.uk

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