Monday, May 29, 2017

Mica Paris – South Of The River (4th & B’Way)

Lost but not least! Mica Paris – South Of The River (4th & B’Way)

What I always loved at Mica (Paris) is her obvious ability to embrace different vibes. Mind you, she was just a girl of her time (she was in her early 20’s back then). Something her label (Island) may not have fully understood though. With the same applying to her crowd.
She most likely appeared as a smooth Jazz songstress on her first album. Then she jumped into groovier territories on her follow-up – ‘Contribution’ – subtly integrating elements/influences inherited from Hip-Hop, if not House Music in her repertoire.

This is pretty much what ‘South Of The River’ is about, as remixed by Blacksmith who injected a bit of scratching on it. Mica once again brilliantly made the proof of her versatility. But this infectious gem of her didn’t get the recognition it fully deserved. Most likely overshadowed by the Prince-penned ‘If I Luv U 2 Nite’. If not by ‘I Should’ve Known Better’ which she co-wrote and produced with Omar.

‘South Of The River’, although released back in 1990, remains such an unsung blast. Don’t you think?

Overview
Mica Paris started singing at church at the early age of 7. She made quite a sensation, showing an incredible vocal maturity 12 years later when dropping her debut-album – the aptly titled ‘So Good’ – back in 1988. An album that spanned the classics ‘My One Temptation’ and ‘Like Dreamers Do’ featuring Courtney Pine. But also the vibrant ‘Breathe Life Into Me’. Not to mention her cover version of the late Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack classic ‘Where Is The Love’, along with Will Downing.

She released her second album – ‘Contribution’ – 2 years after. Delivering gems such as ‘South Of The River’ as remixed by Blacksmith. And the Prince-penned ‘If I Luv U 2 Nite’.
Strangely enough, ‘I Should’ve Known Better’ which she-penned and produced with Omar didn’t appear on the album. Only released as a limited 12″ Promo with remixes courtesy of K-Gee and eventually as the flipside of ‘South Of The River’.
Her third and final delivery for 4th & B’Way, ‘Whisper And Prayer’, seeing her working with Narada Michael Walden and the late Rod Temperton productionwise.

Mica most likely loved exploring different paths and atmospheres. This therefore explaining the impressive amount of luminaries she collaborated with. From Guru to Courtney Pine, Ray Hayden and Maxwell among others. She eventually performed on the main theme of Isaac Julien‘s ‘Young Soul Rebels’ OST back in 1991.

She resurfaced with a fourth album – ‘Black Angel’ on Cooltempo after a 6 years hiatus. It contained a cover version of U2‘s ‘One’, and a duet with James Ingram. Then a fifth one – ‘Soul Classics’ – on Sanctuary Records in 2005… A collection of the most celebrated soul tracks chosen by listeners of her BBC Radio 2 programme ‘Soul Solutions’.
She also delivered ‘If You Could Love Me’ the same year on Wounded Bird Records. It featured the Brecker Brothers and also Will Downing in the backing vocals.
Her last studio album, ‘Born Again’, seeing the light back in June 2009 on Rhythm Riders…

An incredibly gifted performer, Mica Paris managed to express her talents in many different domains. As a radio presenter, with the memorable ‘Soul Classics’ on BBC2 among others. As an actress with a bunch of TV appearences in addition to theater. She is also the author of a book – ‘Beautiful Within: Finding Happiness and Confidence in Your Own Skin’ – published back in 2008 by Simon & Schuster UK. Last but not least, she is also quite active on the charity front.

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10 essential Brit Soul gems (Part 2)…

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