Mica Paris took some time out to speak to us at this years Love Supreme Jazz Festival, ahead of a performance of Ella Fitzgerald classics for her latest release. You can also hear the interview over on Trouve la Groover Jamie Loyn's Sound of the Underground channel (as well as an interview with Poppy Ajudha).
How did you first discover you had such a talent for singing?
My grandparents raised me, they sort of discovered I could sing when I was seven, I was singing Rupert the Bear, which you probably don’t remember. Rupert the Bear was this cartoon that used to come on, a children’s show, and I used to sing to it, and my Grandmother was like “Oh my God, she’s got this amazing vibrato in her voice”. So then they had me singing in Church every Sunday, and then I started winning awards when I was 11, Wembley Stadium, stuff like that, I was a bit of a prodigy. Then I got signed when I was 17, I got discovered in church, signed to Island Records, Chris Blackwell, and the rest is history. It just kicked off, album went straight to number one, platinum, all that stuff; I travelled all over the world.
Do you still perform gospel now?
Every now and then I get asked to do it yeah, now I’m doing my new album, which is Mica Sings Ella Fitzgerald, with an orchestra. This is the very first time I’ve made an album with an orchestra, and done jazz, because I’m mostly a soul girl usually. For me it’s just a lovely departure, it’s interesting because I do a lot of scatting in my show anyway, so jazz is very natural for me to go to, well you’ll hear it later if you’re around.
So what made you decide to perform an Ella Fitzgerald album?
I’ve always been a fan, I’ll never forget the very first advert I saw of her was her advertising Memorex tapes, and she broke the glass. I was about seven, and I remember saying to my grandparents “who’s that lady that broke the glass?” and it was Ella Fitzgerald. That was my first introduction to her, and my father, who is a massive Jazz fan, would just constantly play her when I was growing up, and I was a big fan. I liked her because she didn’t have a typical, what you would say a “black voice”, her voice was very universal, you didn’t know she was black, you just knew it was a great voice. She had a really amazing sound, it was a lot like Nat King Cole. Nat King Cole had a sound that you weren’t necessarily knowing that it was a black person, it was a ubiquitous sound, very nice. They’re ubiquitous artists anyway, they’ve done many genres, Ella was amazing for interpreting so many different styles from The Beatles all over rock ‘n’ roll, she was doing everything. At that time jazz artists just didn’t do that, just like Miles Davis, he did hip hop, you know what I’m saying like no one was doing that. We love that, that’s me, I like artists like that because I’ve kind of done that with my career, I’m always doing loads of things because I’m nuts.
What else do you like?
I like everything man, like anything, I like indie, funk, soul, jazz, rock, everything.
What are you bouncing to at the moment, what’s your shower song?
Ah I like Anderson .Paak, so insane, just amazing.
You’ve done a lot of presenting recently on the radio, like Craig Charles, Trevor Nelson, you’ve been filling in for a few of their shows?
Ten years! Trevor has my old show, I had a Radio 2 show for five years, from 2005 up. Then basically, What Not To Wear the TV shows came and I couldn’t do both, and now it’s interesting that Radio 2 came back to me last year and said “Mica we want you back in”. So I came back, and I’m back in there again, gonna be getting my own show next year, which is nice. In between that I’m just filling in for the boys, when they are on their hols and things, and it’s nice. What’s good about those shows, especially Trevor’s show, which is my old show, which is nice is that I get to pick all the music. So I’m literally at home, I go through all of my music, then I choose what I’m going to play that night. It’s really funny because you get everyone writing in going “Ah Mica I remember that day when I was there” etc. It’s lovely, really nice.
What classic legendary artist would you like to collaborate with, alive or dead?
Marvin. It would’ve been Marvin Gaye, Marvin was my absolute top, he did it for me, he just did it for me. When he sang, I just lost the plot, he’s the one. He’s so good he makes me not want to sing, you know what I mean? It’s him and Donny Hathaway, that’s it, finish.
Enjoy your day off, on the radio, and we’ll see you up there doing your thing.
Bless you, take care man, and good luck with your show.
Photo Credit: Sebas Dc