My Islington school made me a star, says Paloma Faith

The new singing sensation talks exclusively about life at notorious Islington Green

NEW singing sensation Paloma Faith says her time as an Islington schoolgirl was “one of the best periods of my life”.

Speaking in the lead up to a major concert at the Barbican, the 29-year-old pop-star painted a different picture of the much criticised and now defunct Islington Green School – insisting it helped to make her the artist she is.

She said: “I had a really amazing experience. People were always criticising it but the teachers were just so brilliant. It was really creative, with really great art, music and dance departments. I really enjoyed it.”

Paloma, who grew up just over the border in Hackney, attended Islington Green School, in Prebend Street, when it was one of the worst performing in the borough – around the time Tony and Cherie Blair famously decided it was not good enough for their son Euan.

But the multi-talented singer and actress, who has a degree in contemporary dance and once worked as a magician’s assistant, said the school, which closed in 2008 before being replaced by City of London Academy Islington, was full of passionate teachers who encouraged her individuality – a characteristic she has in spades.

“A lot of people in my position don’t actually have anything to say, about anything,” she said. “I think it was my Islington education that gave me the ability to have my own opinions, and I’m proud of that.

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“I think it set me in good stead for life.”

Things have changed dramatically for Paloma - who did her A-Levels at City and Islington College, in Holloway - since her school days – but she does not seem to have let it go to her head.

Speaking to the Gazette over the phone, she still seemed genuinely excited about the smallest trappings of success – specifically, that she could now afford to buy a new duvet.

She said: “I’m still in bed. I’ve got these amazing new bed sheets so I can’t get out unless it’s absolutely necessary. I had the same duvet since I was a student and it was disgusting. And now I can’t get out of bed.”

The upcoming concert promises to be one of the most interesting of her career to date.

Titled Down at the End of Lonely Street, it is a collaboration with trumpet player and arranger Guy Barker, one of the leading lights of British jazz, and his 42-piece orchestra.

She said: “It’s a celebration of loss and loneliness. I’ll be singing a few songs from my debut album and many songs that have inspired me.

“I started singing in jazz clubs so it’s me doing what I’ve always done. That’s how I used to make my bread and butter.

“I think it’s good for my soul because I’m so passionate about that style of music.”

She added: “We have one rehearsal the day before. It’s absolutely insanely nerve-wracking but Guy Barker is such a brilliant man, and so good at doing his conducting – he just keeps nodding at me in the right place!”

- Down at the End of Lonely Street is at the Barbican, in Silk Street, on December 10.