GRIPPED by a severe case of jitters, Mica Paris was faced with two options: snap out of it and return to the stage or walk away and live to regret it.

Ever the pragmatic, she snapped out of it.

“I was tentative about acting,” she admits candidly. “I had done a couple of plays but that was 20 years ago. The script was just so good I couldn’t say no. Sylvia is me, with an American accent.”

“From feeling terrified to do theatre again, I’m enjoying every minute. I’m asking myself, ‘What were you so scared of before you silly woman?’”

This willingness to throw herself into new projects headfirst goes a long to explain her multifarious career which has seen the award-winning singer fleet between music, radio, acting and presenting stints. A jack-of-all- trades, she has one limitation however.

“I’m one of those people you can throw anything at; but maybe not dancing.”

From the producers of Hairspray, Jersey Boys and West Side Story, Love Me Tender is a feel-good musical featuring Elvis Presley’s greatest hits. Set in a small town in 1950s America, a guitar-playing, hip-swivelling stranger rides his motorbike into town. The townsfolk are about to be ‘All Shook Up’, but for Natalie, the love-struck, tomboy mechanic, it really is ‘Now or Never’. Mica plays Sylvia, an outspoken bar owner, in whose establishment the story unfolds.

Elvis’s timeless repertoire aide, the musical’s multi-layered plot, set against the background of racial segregation, made it simply impossible for Mica to walk away from the production.

“It’s not just fun,” she adds excitedly. “It’s a great story and there is a serious topic. It is set during the segregation and you’re talking about racism. There are different layers and I love all that. “ Raised in the Pentecostal Church by her grandparents, both ministers, singing was integral part of her childhood.

“Our church was like the one in the Blues Brothers,” she recalls. “We were the first family of the church so everybody was watching us. It was pretty intense. We were in church six days a week. There was a lot of preaching but there was also a lot of singing and it was great.

I did my first show in front 100 people in the church when I was eight and I won my first singing award when I was 1!, at the Pentecostal Church convention in Wembley. It was my first competition. It went on from there. I was singing all over the place; my grandmother was my agent. It was hilarious.”

At the age of 15 she was spotted by Viv Broughton, the editor of The Voice, the only black newspaper at that time.

She was signed at 17 and was a platinum-selling artist by the time she turned 19.

“It was crazy; it was a hurricane. You don’t have time to stop and think. I moved to America after the hits here. It blew up in Europe. It was very heavy. ”

But success she discovered was a fickle mistress. By the time she was 30, she was bankrupt.

“It was tough but the show must go on. I describe my career as a roller coaster ride without a belt. The ups and downs have been tough but they’ve made me stronger. A lot of people ask why I didn’t end up doing the drugs thing. But I was raised by my grandparents, they were so hard core. I couldn’t.”

Constantly evolving and reinventing herself, she learnt early on to keep an open mind and take chances. Although she insists she is a recording artist first and foremost.

“I’m a recording artist by nature; I’m a singer that’s what I do. But I’m not shy to try something. I didn’t ever think I would do any of it. I didn’t think I would be an actress, do TV. I feel like I’m constantly evolving. And there’s a lot of others things I’ve not tried yet.”

Love Me Tender will be run at the New Theatre Oxford between Monday, July 6 and Saturday 11. To book call the box office on 0844 871 3020 or visit