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Carmel - The Drum Is Everything (1984)

Carmel (born Carmel McCourt, 24 November 1958, Wrawby, Lincolnshire, England) is a British female singer, her eponymous band Carmel uniting bassist Jim Parris, and drummer Gerry Darby.

The band formed in Manchester when two students, Carmel McCourt and Jim Parris got together with drummer Gerry Darby (Parris' cousin). Their debut single, "Storm" reached No. 1 in the UK independent chart and Carmel was signed immediately to London Records. Their second album The Drum is Everything (produced by Mike Thorne) drew some praise. Parris and Darby conjured the effect of a full ensemble backing to McCourt's vocals, and alternated between soulful ballads, gospel, blues and jazz. The resulting singles "Bad Day" and "More, More, More" both went Top 25 in the UK Singles Chart. The following album, The Falling (produced by Brian Eno, Hugh Jones and David Motion) made Carmel moderately successful in France, achieving gold disc status, as well as charting in Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands. Carmel had a hit in France with "J'oublierai ton nom", a duo with France's Johnny Hallyday. "Sally" the first single lifted from the album sold 500,000 copies in France alone.

With the critical and commercial success awarded both The Falling and the next album Everybody's Got A Little Soul, record producers were keen to work with Carmel.

1989 saw the release of Set Me Free, with Brian Eno and Pete Wingfield adding their touches to the material. A five star review in Q describing the album as "incendiary".[citation needed] 1990's 'best of' compilation, Collected, put the band's career into perspective.

1992's Good News saw Carmel moving to East West Records with Parris producing. In 1997 Ronnie Scotts provided the venue to record their last album, Live at Ronnie Scotts, which was a collection of their work and some previously unreleased material.

Live performance has always been central to Carmel's work and they are successful on the European touring circuit, and has sometimes found greater appreciation on the continent than it has done in the UK. The French christened McCourt the new Edith Piaf[citation needed], and in Italy she won the accolade of Best Jazz vocalist at the Messina Festival.

During much of the 1990s the band members were living between Barcelona, Paris and Manchester, and it was hard for them to work together, so they pursued other musical projects. Parris created the band Nzi Dada with Paris based multi media artist Xumo Nounjio, and Carmel worked on various projects as a singer, writer and teacher.

The start of the millennium saw them all back in their adopted hometown of Manchester, but Darby decided he no longer wanted to continue. In 2002 Parris and McCourt undertook a tour playing the old material with a nine piece band. Later they worked on material for a new album with drummer Brice Wassy.

McCourt and Parris are currently working on new pieces, one written alongside poet Sonia Hughes. They intend to perform them as a duo with some sound treatments by new collaborator Jaydev Mistry, plus filmwork by Adrian Ball.

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