Born Michelle Wallen in south-east London, she was raised by strict religious grandparents and cut her teeth singing on the UK Pentecostal circuit. When no one else was home, Mica would listen to her aunt’s imported Hawkins Family LPs, featuring US gospel legend and pastor Walter Lee Hawkins. Here, you can hear how much she learnt from those giants on her uplifting renditions of standards such as Amazing Grace and Oh Happy Day.
The richness of Mica’s voice, combined with the power of the hymns and the backing of the Soul Sanctuary Gospel choir, makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
Jools Holland joins her on Precious Lord, Take My Hand, and Mama Said pays tribute to her grandparents’ positivity. But Gospel isn’t just about her roots.
Mica, 51 – who found fame with 80s hits My One Temptation and Where Is The Love? – gives hand-picked pop songs the same treatment.
We get a beautifully soulful cover of Labi Siffre’s (Something Inside) So Strong, Rag’n’Bone Man’s Human and her haunting take on U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.
Mica even tackles Sam Cooke’s immortal soul anthem A Change Is Gonna Come. Its dream of hope, justice and better times is just as relevant now as it was in 1964.
Her journey from a Lewisham chapel to national treasure status has been unconventional – from pop star to TV personality via musicals, radio and playing villainous Ellie Nixon on EastEnders.
But Gospel’s mix of new and old, secular and spiritual, reminds us that what Mica Paris does best is sing from the heart. She is the UK’s Queen of Soul. No wonder Prince adored her.