Mica Paris

Lightning may not strike twice but fame can. At least that is true of Michelle Wallen aka former teenage soul sensation Mica Paris. From music to fashion and back again, Paris is on top.


Paris began singing in church at an early age and then went on to become a session singer at the age of 15 for bands such as Hollywood Beyond and Shakatak.

She was raised by her strict, devout grandfather, a minister in a Pentecostal church in south London. At age 17 she was signed with Island Records, a raw wide-eyed youngster as she walked down the same corridors as artists such as Bono and Grace Jones.

The soul singer has said she was inspired by big voices like Whitney Houston, the Isley Brothers, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye.

Her first single, ‘My One Temptation' (1988), is still her most successful, reaching number seven in the charts. She went on to have hits with 'Where Is The Love', which was a duet with Will Downing, and 'Black Angel'. These were followed by 'Stay' and 'Carefree'. Paris has previously collaborated with Prince, David Gilmour, Jools Holland and James Morrison.

However, the fame and success of her four solo albums belied the misery of a woman who battled bankruptcy, the breakdown of her relationship with her record company, paranoia and a damaging cycle of yo-yo dieting.

Broke, grieving, and ill in America, Paris was saved when the singer Chaka Khan asked her to take over as the lead in a West End show called 'Mama I Want To Sing'. She has gone on to act in stage shows 'Sweet Lorraine' and 'The Vagina Monologues'.


She went on to present a soul series on BBC Radio 2, which developed into the regular show 'Soul Sessions'. She competed in the ITV singing competition 'Hit Me Baby One More Time' and appeared in the BBC series 'The Sound of Musicals'.

In April 2006, it was announced that she and model Lisa Butcher were to take over from Trinny and Susannah to be the new co-presenters of the long running BBC TV series 'What Not to Wear', with the show experiencing record viewing figures.

Reality TV is familiar ground for Paris who has also starred in 'Strictly Come Dancing', 'Come Dine With Me' and 'CelebAir' (2008), in which famous people work for an airline. She was also a guest judge on Gok Wan's 'Miss Naked Beauty 2008'.

She has also released a book called 'Beautiful Within', which became an instant hit and enjoyed critical acclaim.

Paris has since returned to music and performed for the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip's 90th birthday in 2011. She has also sung live as a guest of Michael Bolton and Dionne Warwick in recent years.

In 2012, Paris is undertaking a solo tour, with a performance scheduled at the Royal Albert Hall to mark World Hunger Day. She is also recording a new album, while her debut record 'So Good' was re-released with bonus material on 23 May 2012.

The woman who was named in the top 10 list of the 100 Great Black Britons has two daughters: one is Monet, born in 1991 and the younger is called Russia, born in 2006.

In 2001 her brother Jason Phillips was shot dead, prompting her to become an active anti-gun campaigner.