The group that took Detroit techno to the masses via the British charts and the world's dancefloors, Inner City created an accessible version of the city's innovative dance sound, featuring gospel-inspired vocals and uplifting lyrics. Founded by techno pioneer Kevin Saunderson and Chicago house singer Paris Grey, Inner City became one of dance-pop's most successful acts, topping the U.S. dance chart five times, hitting Britain's Top 40 nine times, and selling over six million records. Powered by massive hits such as "Big Fun" and "Good Life," their 1989 debut, Paradise, was certified platinum in the U.K. Later efforts such as 1992's Praise incorporated elements of jazz as well as the rave and swingbeat sounds popular at the time, in addition to more faith-driven lyrics. The group remained active throughout the following decades, continuing to release singles and perform concerts with additional vocalists, musicians, and producers. Fourth album We All Move Together arrived in 2020, updating the Inner City sound with a lineup featuring Kevin's son Dantiez Saunderson and singer Steffanie Christi'an.
Inner City was formed in 1987 when Saunderson, still in college and recording out of his basement studio, produced a track he felt needed lyrics. After Chicago-based vocalist Paris Grey (born Shanna Jackson) was recommended by house producer Terry Baldwin, Grey flew to Detroit and the two recorded the song "Big Fun." Several months later, the song was released on the 1988 Virgin compilation Techno: The New Dance Sound of Detroit, and hit the British charts in a surprising crossover success. Signed to Virgin soon after, Saunderson and Grey hit again later that same year with the Top Five single "Good Life." Their debut album, Paradise (Big Fun on its American issue), reached number three in the U.K., and four of its singles topped the American dance charts. Paradise Remixed preceded second album Fire (1990), which featured more Soul II Soul-esque down-tempo songs than their debut and didn't fare as well. The more rave-influenced 1992 release Praise was more successful, with two singles reaching the U.K. Top 40, and "Pennies from Heaven" (one of several Inner City tracks co-written by Ann Saunderson, Kevin's then-wife) topping the U.S. dance chart. Remix collection Testament 93, featuring interpretations by Leftfield and the Future Sound of London, reached number 33 on the U.K. album chart.
Several Inner City singles appeared between 1993 and 1996, including "Do Ya" (number five U.S. dance) and "Your Love" (number 28 U.K.), but a full-length, set to be titled Hiatus, never appeared. "Good Life (Buena Vida)," a re-recording of the band's 1988 hit featuring Spanish lyrics, was released by PIAS in 1999, and reached number ten in the U.K. Inner City continued releasing singles, including 2001's "Good Love," and Good Life: The Best of Inner City was issued by EMI in 2003. Credited to Kevin Saunderson featuring Inner City, "Future" was released by Defected in 2011, and the Donna Summer tribute "Bad Girl" appeared on Saunderson's KMS Records in 2014.
Dantiez Saunderson joined Inner City in 2017, and "Good Luck," sung by LaRae Starr, was released by KMS that year. Detroit-based singer/songwriter Steffanie Christi'an became the group's frontwoman in 2018, first appearing on the single "Heavy." Inner City signed to Armada in 2019, and collaborated with label co-founder Armin van Buuren on the single "It Could Be." The full-length We All Move Together appeared in 2020, featuring Christi'an as well as guests ZebrA OctobrA and Idris Elba. ~ John Bush & Paul Simpson