Interview with Miki Howard

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MIKI HOWARD - FROM DANCER, BACKGROUND SINGER AND SIDE EFFECT TO SOLO STAR Whilst the name Miki Howard may be new to you, the gifted vocaliste is anything but a newcomer. In fact, quite the contrary because Miki's prior main claim to fame was as lead singer with Side Effect, a group who were by the critics but whose commercial pedigree never materialised.

Whilst the name {safm}Miki Howard{/safm} may be new to you, the gifted vocaliste is anything but a newcomer. In fact, quite the contrary because Miki's prior main claim to fame was as lead singer with Side Effect, a group who were by the critics but whose commercial pedigree never materialised.

Remember Side Effect? The group on Fantasy and later Elektra who wanted to introduce the world to R&Bebop. A group so talented that if they had built a solid foundation with more commercial product could possibly have one day achieved their lofty aims.

"The group meant everything to me," Miki now reflects. "When I joined the group, of course, they were quite well established and so I was able to pick up a lot of experience and knowledge by being with them. They showed me how to handle myself in this business and when the group split up, I took it real hard at first.
"However, being an optimist, that's what opened the doors for me at Atlantic because the company already knew a little about me from being with the group.

"In all honesty, the breakup of Side Effect was really caused by the lack of public acceptance. We were always known as an industry group and people were constantly predicting that one day Side Effect would be huge. It never happened, though, and when we were dropped by Elektra, everybody became very frustrated.

"We hung in there for a while doing little gigs here and there but gradually, one by one, we started drifting in different directions. One guy got into producing, one went solo and another got into the management side of the business ? but we all stay in touch still and I think they are all a little proud of what I've been able to attain. It's all such a pity that the group never really happened the way I felt it should have done."

During her nine year tenure with Side Effect, she also built up quite a reputation as a background singer ? both on the road and in the studio ? and Miki worked with the likes of the {safm}Gap Band{/safm}, Roy Ayers, Esther Phillips, Billy Cobham Stanley Turrentine, {safm}Philip Bailey{/safm} and ... Dolly Parton!

"What that gave me was determination!" she smiles wickedly. "The final blow came one night when I was doing some backgrounds for an artist ? whose name I won't mention ? and we were playing at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. Anyway, I got to see the 'star's dressing room' from the inside and it made me jealous! I hated to admit it but I was really jealous!

"The next day, I sat down and completely analysed and rethought my own position and the outcome was that I became even more determined than I was before.

"The truth of the matter is that I really wasn't a good background singer. In fact, I was terrible! I was very inconsistent and there were even times when I forgot my parts. Oh, but was I terrible!"
However, all of this lead to Miki signing with Atlantic last year and the initial end
product has been the album, "Come Share My Love", and the single of the same name ? already a Top 3 hit here in the colonies.

"I think that "Come Share My Love" has a very positive lyric and a beautiful melody," Miki points out.

"They don't write lyrics like this these days, do they? This isn't a rap record and it isn't a "my best friend slept with my man last night" song and that makes it almost unique on Black radio these days!

Listen to "Imagination" and "Love Will Find A Way" on my album and you'll hear what I'm talking about.
"I'm proud of my album ? but only as a first album. There's plenty of room for improvement. In fact, there are two songs on the album that I could have done a better job on . . . but I won't tell you what they are!

"I guess that what I would aim for on the next album would be for more of myself to come through. To make the album a little more personal to people."

Miki hails from Chicago and was surrounded by music from day one because her parents sang with several gospel groups around the Windy City. Her mother, Josephine Howard, sang with the Caravan and her father with the Temple Jubilees. However, secular music was also played in the Howard household and Miki recalls listening to the likes of Aretha, the Supremes, Lena Home, Dinah Washington, Shirley M Bassey, Morgana King and her all-time favourite, Little Jimmy Scott.

"One day, my aim is to be like Lena Home and Shirley Bassey ? to have no limitations to my career," Miki says.

By the tender age of eight, Miki followed in the footsteps of her parents and started singing with the James Cleveland Choir. Within a few years, she had progressed to being a dancer with "Solid Gold" and by the time she was all of sixteen, she had landed her spot within Side Effect.
And now, ten years on, she is following in the footsteps of Aretha Franklin, Tina, Whitney Houston and has become part of the ever-expanding female singer's movement!

"There's no doubt about it, they opened the doors for me ? people such as the ones you mentioned but also Sade, Anita Baker and a whole lot more. I feel as if I have a little bit of all of them in me.

"Let me put it this way, I want to learn as much as I possibly can and they all obviously know something I don't. They're there and I'm not there yet! I love Sade ? she has so much style. Whitney is like new money ? crisp and perfect. Tina Turner just oozes soul and guts ... she's spicey! Aretha is .. . Aretha. I'd like to be able to take a little bit from each of them."

By the time you read this epistle, Miki may well have actually found her way to London because she was actually packing her bags as we spoke, getting ready to head east to France, Holland and the U.K.
"I've never been before," she says nevously. "I hope they like me. What am I expecting? Oh ... cold weather, which I'm not used to because I've been living here in Los Angeles for so long. I've been watching the news and hearing about all of the snow and freezing temperatures so I'm not looking forward to that."

Whether or not the weather heats up, I wouldn't worry, Miki ? I have a feeling that your cheerful exhuberance will easily defrost anything and anybody you come into contact with! (JA B&S)

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