Rozalla Miller still making waves

02 Feb, 2015 - 00:02 0 Views
Rozalla Miller still making waves Rozalla Miller

The Herald

Rozalla Miller

Rozalla Miller

Fred Zindi Music
The best thing that could have happened to Rozalla Miller in her life was the decision to emigrate to the UK. After a long musical stint in Zimbabwe, her fortunes began to rise when former Radio 3 DJ, John Matinde sponsored her flight to the UK in 1989.

Since then there is no looking back for the dance and rave diva.

On arrival in the UK, Rozalla went to an unknown music producer Chris Sergeant, who was director of Unit Dance Records based in Wolverhampton. Chris had previously recorded the album “Jiri” from another Zimbabwean artiste, Lovemore Majaivana during his 1987 UK tour. He was itching to adventure into the African music scene when he discovered Rozalla. After negotiations were made to fly Rozalla into the UK, she went straight into the studio and recorded three singles with Unit Dance. Immediately the dance scene in the UK was eating out of Rozalla’s hands giving stiff competition to the likes of Whitney Houston who was at the same time making waves on the other side of the Atlantic.

The Unit Dance label was later taken over by giant Sony Records which had also signed Michael Jackson under its stable. The rest is history.

Today, Rozalla is making waves with the hit single “Shaking Through The Night” which she recently recorded with UK-based musician Farhaan “Kazz” Khan of the Bkay and Kazz fame. The song was produced by Germany-based Peter Schanz of R&S Entertainment group.

After what many had thought Rozalla’s career as a singer had ended, this come back single proves that she has still got what it takes in the world of music.

In case you do not know who Rozalla is, together with the Bhundu Boys and Mokoomba, she is one of Zimbabwe’s biggest musical exports to Europe.

The undisputed queen of rave, Rozalla Miller was born in Ndola, Zambia on the 18th March, 1964. Her father, a Zimbabwean, had crossed into Zambia from Rhodesia during colonial times in order to seek greener pastures. She began performing at a young age in Zambia singing in clubs, at special events and on a children’s TV show.

She was aged eighteen years when she relocated to Zimbabwe with her parents just after Independence.

Rozalla lived in Chinhoyi briefly between 1982 and 1983 before moving to Harare where she went with the intention of enrolling at a college to learn elementary typing. However, this was meant to please her parents who were against their daughter singing in a band. When she got to Harare, she fronted various R&B cover bands which included the Rusike Brothers and Boykie Moore’s band, Grab, before beginning her own recording career. She ended up with five number-one hits on Zimbabwe’s national charts. In 1984, the hit “Party Time” which she recorded with the Rusike Brothers rocked the night clubs of Harare and Bulawayo. In 1989 an English producer, Chris Sergeant, who was based in Wolverhampton and owned Unit Dance Music label, invited Rozalla to London placing her with the Band of Gypsies. This production duo, consisting of Nigel Swanston and Tim Cox, produced her most successful singles and her debut album.

Rozalla’s first UK single “Born to Luv Ya” became a club hit in 1990. However, her career took off when the dance anthem “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)”, reached number 6 in the UK Singles Charts in 1991 after selling more than a million copies. The single became a Top 10 hit in many European countries soon afterwards and reached the American Billboard Chart’s Top 40 the following year. It was later included on her dance heavy debut album “Everybody’s Free”, which peaked at number 20 in the UK Albums Chart and went silver. The album spawned two more sizeable hits in “Faith (In the Power of Love)” and “Are You Ready to Fly”, reaching number 11 and 14 respectively in the UK Singles Chart. A deal was signed with Sony Records, the same label Michael Jackson was signed to. It was then that Sony thought of ways of promoting the album and a decision to ask Rozalla to open for Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Tour shows was reached. The first performance was at Wembley Arena in London in 1992, where Rozalla became an instant star.

After touring with Michael Jackson, opening all of his performances on the European leg of his Dangerous Tour, Rozalla enjoyed success with several lesser charting singles. However, her major success came in 1994 when her cover version of “I Love Music” reached the UK Top 20/US Top 100. The hit was the theme song of the film “Carlito’s Way”.

Three more dance singles, including a cover of Soul Family Sensation’s underground hit “I Don’t Even Know If I Should Call You Baby”, also reached the upper regions of the UK Singles Chart. However, none of these songs managed to come close to the international success of the singles from her debut album.

Rozalla showed a different side of herself by experimenting with different styles of music on the attendant album “Look No Further”, but this change of direction was not appreciated by her disco/dance following and the album sold poorly.

In 1996 a remix of “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)” reached the UK Top 40, but since then mainstream chart success has eluded her in that country. Her 1998 album “Coming Home” saw her reunite with the Band of Gypsies after her contract with Sony had expired. The album spawned a USA club hit with its lead single “Don’t Go Lose It Baby”. Without the support of a major label its release went by largely unnoticed, despite being well received by her dance loving followers.

Rozalla enjoyed a hit single in Germany in 2002 with the Aquagen remix of “Everybody’s Free” and in 2003 she entered the lower regions of the UK Singles Chart alongside Plastic Boy on the vocal trance single, “Live Another Life”. This track was included on her first, and only, official compilation “The Best of Rozalla” which was issued soon afterwards. As a matter of fact “Everybody’s Free” became ubiquitous in every music genre. There was a jazz version, a soul version, a disco version and a hip-hop version of the song in almost every country in Europe and the USA.

A Global Deejays remix of “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)” became Rozalla’s first major hit single in many years, reaching number seven in Australia in 2009 after it had been used as the theme song to the programme “So You Think You Can Dance”. The remix became a minor hit in some European countries later that year, but by this time Rozalla was once again experimenting with other styles of music. She issued the jazz/soul album “Brand New Version” in 2009, adding her surname Miller to her recording guise. Some songs were played on various UK radio stations, including Radio 2 and Jazz FM, and Rozalla promoted the album by performing as the support act for Billy Ocean on his 41 Concerts UK tour of 2009.

In May 2009, Rozalla became a patron of the charity All Star Kids. In 2011 Rozalla signed to Frontline Records which also released a not so successful album.

It should be mentioned that Rozalla comes from a musical family. She is related to Zambia’s Warren Mills who made hits with “Mickey’s Monkey” and is also cousin to Zimbabwe’s Alton Edwards who has performed with Edwin Starr and Alexander O’Neil. Edwards has also made hits in his own right which include “I Just Wanna Spend Some Time with You” which sold hundreds of thousands of records in 1982. Both Alton Edwards and Warren Mills were signed on to UK based Jive Records. In 1997, Rozalla married media mogul, Alan Brydon.

It is hoped that with the release of “Shaking Through The Night” the year 2015 should bring Rozalla back to yesteryear’s success.

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