Subject of TV One Biopic, Miki Howard Opens Up In Parlé Mag Interview
The name Miki Howard may not instantly ring bells in the ears of millennials, but the R&B/Jazz vocalist sure enough held her own in the music industry, climbing the charts and earning the respect of her peers and some of the biggest executives in the music industry.
Born Alicia Michelle Howard, the only child of gospel singers, Clay Graham and Josephine Howard of the Caravans, Miki Howard was born with talent. When she inevitably broke into the industry in 1978, as a singer with the group Side Effect, she was undoubtedly already a star. When she emerged as a solo artist years later, her voice had some convinced she would be bigger than Whitney Houston.
With solo success and R&B chart appearances came increased industry pressure as well as some questionable relationship choices. Even appearances in blockbuster films, Poetic Justice and Spike Lee’s Malcolm X couldn’t stop the real life cautionary tale was to come for Miki Howard personally. Abuse and drug use would follow and the singer soon found herself at rock bottom, literally.
It’s been nearly 30 years since the height of her success, but Miki Howard is still standing, which in this industry, after the decade we’ve had, just being alive is half the battle. Drug free and fully in control of her life, the singer is the subject of a TV One biopic, titled Love Under New Management: The Miki Howard Story.
The biopic stars Teyonnah Parris as Miki Howard and also features Darius McCray as Gerald Levert, Milini Khan as her mother Chaka Khan.
The film premieres on TV One Sunday June 12th at 7pm EST.
We recently caught up with Miki Howard about the film, the lessons she learned over the course of her career and much more. Read my complete interview with the true R&B diva here…
Parlé Mag: So the biopic is an amazing production. How did it all come together?
Miki Howard: Well you know the Unsung series that they do, they did an Unsung on me like four or five years ago (season 2) and it did very very well for them. And then they did a revisited, which did even better. So then they called and asked me, well we would like to do a Biopic on you, because I have quite an interesting story I think. My parents were both Gospel singers, my moms in the Rock & ROll Hall of Fame. You know, I just came up in a great era, the 70’s and 80’s is when I first started singing and I’m still singing so it’s been a long career.
Parlé Mag: Does the film look at any particular part of your career or does it focus on your whole life?
Miki Howard: I’m 55, so you can’t fit that much life into 86 minutes or an hour and a half. It’s like a look at some in depth things. It’s very interesting, I think you’ll find it very interesting.
Parlé Mag: As far as biopics are concerned, you definitely want the right person to portray you first and foremost, were you comfortable with actress Teyonah Parris as the choice to portray you?
Miki Howard: Yeah I LOVE TEYONAH PARRIS!!! She does a great job. It’s soooo funny because we really don’t look alike, but once she took on that character, it’s like oh my God! When I think of myself I see her face. She does such an amazing job.
Parlé Mag: From what you’ve watched, do you feel it’s an honest portrayal of you?
Miki Howard: Yes, it’s accurate. Some people may be taken aback by some of the stuff that’s in it, but it’s accurate, it happened.
Parlé Mag: The subtitle is Love Under New Management, talk to me about that title.
Miki Howard: I don’t know why they called it that. I had a hit record called “Love Under New Management” but I don’t know why they called the movie that.
Parlé Mag: TV One’s Unsung is great because it reminds people of the great careers folks have had and shines a light on those deserving artists that the new generation might not even be familiar with. What do you hope people get from this film about Miki Howard?
Miki Howard: I hope the movie documents how it was coming up in those days, you know. I also hope it let’s people know—because we watch Love and Hip-Hop and stuff and we say ‘oh my gosh, Peter Gunz did what??’ But we all did it. It’s just something you do and part of life. And I hope that anybody that’s going through something and thinks they can’t get over it or if anybody has a dream that they think they can’t achieve, I hope they watch this and say, I can do anything! If Miki Howard can do it, I can do it.
And I just hope they had a good time watching it.
Parlé Mag: Looking back at your career, particularly now that you actually can visualize it, do you have any regrets about anything that happened over the course of it?
Miki Howard: Yeah I have a couple! I would’ve shot a couple of people. (Laughs) For real, if I was gonna be in trouble and not have the career I wanted I should have hurt a couple of people. NAW, honestly I don’t have any regrets. Honestly! That’s why I say if I would’ve had any regrets I would’ve hit somebody harder.
Parlé Mag: I get that! As far as today’s R&B climate, are there any artists you enjoy.
Miki Howard: Oh I like so many artists, I really do. I just feel bad, earlier days you would just have one artist that would sing a certain way and they stood out, but now you got the whole choir, everybody in the choir is a lead singer. Somebody needs to play the background. Everybody doesn’t need to be out front. But I do appreciate a lot of artists. I think Beyoncé is phenomenal. Her work ethic is incredible. I wish I could. I always wished I could sing, dance and act.
Now people that I enjoy listening to that are modern, I like India.Arie, I love her music. I play Usher, he’s fun. You know who’s coming up now that I am really proud of? K. Michelle. She started out a little ratchet, but she is bringing it on in. I love her energy and I love her determination to try and bring something else to the table. I love that. That’s part of what you have to have to be an artist. Ain’t nobody going to want to paint with one color all the time. You gotta grow.
Parlé Mag: Speaking of that, what do you think about the state of R&B right now.
Miki Howard: I think everybody is trying to create R&B and that’s weird. I think R&B is a mixture of rhythm, blues and the times that’s going on. It’s not something that’s retro. It’s gotta be what you feel right now. And it’s always a reflection of what you feel. That’s why we used to have love songs, now we have songs that say I want to be in love. That’s kind of a problem. It’s kind of hard. A lot of our youth don’t know what it’s like to be in love or to fall in love because love has been redefined. And most R&B songs are based on love. It makes the state of R&B kind of unstable.
Love Under New Management: The Miki Howard Story premieres on TV ONE Sunday June 12th at 7 p.m. EST.