Cork Jazz Festival is a big thing worldwide, says star Mica Paris

From pop stardom, collaborating with Prince and television success, to hitting the road with Fame and paying homage to the great Ella Fitzgerald, Mica Paris has had a resounding and enduring appeal over the years. Ahead of her Jazz weekend stop at the Everyman on Friday, October 25, to sing Ella’s songs, Mike McGrath-Bryan had a chat with the ‘My One Temptation’ singer.
Cork Jazz Festival is a big thing worldwide, says star Mica Paris
Mica Paris: Ready for Cork Jazz Festival.

From pop stardom, collaborating with Prince and television success, to hitting the road with Fame and paying homage to the great Ella Fitzgerald, Mica Paris has had a resounding and enduring appeal over the years. Ahead of her Jazz weekend stop at the Everyman on Friday, October 25, to sing Ella’s songs, Mike McGrath-Bryan had a chat with the ‘My One Temptation’ singer.


Mica Paris is a woman in a hurry over the phone, as you’d expect from someone as currently in-demand as herself: having topped the charts in her youth with smash single ‘My One Temptation’, and collaborating with the likes of Prince and Bobby Womack, and been at the forefront of entertainment television as the host of ‘What Not to Wear’, Paris’ hectic schedule has continued apace in recent years. The current, thirtieth-anniversary West End production of Fame: The Musical has had her on the road for the better part of the last eighteen months, when her own solo musical work and the ‘Mica Sings Ella’ project, started by a two-track covers EP and expanded into a full show, haven’t occupied her time. As we speak, Paris is in transit to her evening’s Fame performance, and in flying, pre-stage form.On the topic of fame, last year marked the 30th anniversary of the release of debut album ‘So Good’, led off by the aforementioned single, accolades for which include a top-20 chart placement on these shores, when such placement was measured in physical unit sales. Seemingly a lifetime ago, Paris recalls the experience around its release. “I signed the deal when I was seventeen, y’know? It took us a year to make the album. I didn’t expect it to happen so fast. I thought I’d have to wait a long time to become successful. I was really shocked, it felt surreal and wonderful. One minute I was in college, and the next I was all over the world, on posters… it was a shock.”In 2003, as her broadcast career was kicking off in earnest, Paris’ run in music earned her a Gold Badge of Merit at the Gold Badge Awards, presented by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, for special contributions to contemporary music in Britain. Amid all of the change that was happening in her life at the time, she recalls the excitement of a time of transition. “My feeling is, as an artist, you’re trying to explore what you can do. You want to evolve, and you want to try new things. For me, the scary thing is doing the same thing. I tried everything, I tried radio, and it became a successful soul show. I tried my hand at TV… I did it because I wanted to experience myself doing new things”If music and theatre are storytelling devices, then Mica Paris’ excursions into media can only be an extension of her abilities in that regard. Having hosted fashion TV juggernaut What Not to Wear, and long helmed specialist music shows on BBC Radio, like Mica Meets and Soul Solution, Paris explores the differences in experience between the two media, both in terms of consumption and creation, through the filter of her interviews with soul artists for the BBC. “It’s an amazing teacher. One thing I’ve learned is that artists love talking to other artists. They tell me everything. They’d say more to me as an artist, than to someone that wasn’t, and that’s lovely… everything I do is for inspiration. That’s my motto. I’m not in this for fun, it’s got to move you in some way. And on a personal level, it’s comforting (when speaking to other artists about their ups and downs), it’s comforting that you’re not the only one.”

In 2003, as her broadcast career was kicking off in earnest, Paris’ run in music earned her a Gold Badge of Merit at the Gold Badge Awards, presented by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, for special contributions to contemporary music in Britain. Amid all of the change that was happening in her life at the time, she recalls the excitement of a time of transition. “My feeling is, as an artist, you’re trying to explore what you can do. You want to evolve, and you want to try new things. For me, the scary thing is doing the same thing. I tried everything, I tried radio, and it became a successful soul show. I tried my hand at TV… I did it because I wanted to experience myself doing new things”If music and theatre are storytelling devices, then Mica Paris’ excursions into media can only be an extension of her abilities in that regard. Having hosted fashion TV juggernaut What Not to Wear, and long helmed specialist music shows on BBC Radio, like Mica Meets and Soul Solution, Paris explores the differences in experience between the two media, both in terms of consumption and creation, through the filter of her interviews with soul artists for the BBC. “It’s an amazing teacher. One thing I’ve learned is that artists love talking to other artists. They tell me everything. They’d say more to me as an artist, than to someone that wasn’t, and that’s lovely… everything I do is for inspiration. That’s my motto. I’m not in this for fun, it’s got to move you in some way. And on a personal level, it’s comforting (when speaking to other artists about their ups and downs), it’s comforting that you’re not the only one.”As if juggling two bands and a media career with a full West End theatrical production wasn’t enough, Paris is in the middle of penning her second book, drawn from her conversations with musical women over the years, and addressing the struggles of women in an industry that is in internal conflict over the pronounced gender imbalance there’s been over the years. Writing a book of any kind is no mean feat, as Paris recalls with her own experiences in writing her first, a tie-in with ‘What Not to Wear’ in 2008. “I’m two years in, should be finished this winter. You sit down, you literally go through your story, and it’s amazing that I’ve been able to get the transcripts of everyone I’ve spoken to over the years for the radio. I’ve got this guy working with me, he’s amazing as well, and we sit down and go through them all. We look at how people have done what they’ve done, and look at why they did it, which is most important.”The Jazz Weekend rapidly approaches, and with it, Paris’ live turn with the music of Ella Fitzgerald, in the intimate surrounds of McCurtain Street’s Everyman Palace Theatre. She’s enthused by the thoughts of coming in for the Jazz, its worldwide reputation, and coming to Cork on the biggest music weekend of the year. “Yeah, it’s a big thing, (I’ve just seen that) Martha Reeves is going to be there, she is amazing, you’re going to love her! Cork’s jazz festival is a big thing, everyone knows about it, and it has a reputation. I can’t wait.”‘Mica Sings Ella’ happens on Friday October 25, at the Everyman Palace Theatre, as part of their Jazz Weekend proceedings. 

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