Pauline Black

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Pauline Black
Pauline Black of Selecter, San Francisco, 2005
Pauline Black of Selecter in San Francisco, 2005
Background information
Birth name Belinda Magnus
Born (1953-10-23) 23 October 1953 (age 62)
Genres Ska
Occupation(s) Musician, singer, actress
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1979–present
Labels 2 Tone. Chrysalis
Associated acts The Selecter

Pauline Black (born Belinda Magnus; 23 October 1953) is a British singer, actress and author. She is mainly known for her role as the lead singer of the ska group The Selecter.

Early life[edit]

Black was born in Romford,[1] to an Anglo-Jewish teenage mother and Nigerian father. She was adopted by a white middle-aged couple and given the name Pauline Vickers.[1] Her biological father, Gordon Adenle, had come to London from Nigeria to study engineering and was a Yoruba prince.[2] Black was unaware of her Jewish heritage until the age of 42 when she traced her birth mother.[3] Black studied science at Lanchester Polytechnic (now Coventry University) before training as a radiographer in Coventry.[2] Upon completion of her studies she worked for the NHS for five years before she entered the music industry.[citation needed]

Music career[edit]

Black was a founding member of ska band The Selecter who were formed in Coventry in 1979. The Selecter, along with The Specials and Madness, are credited with starting the ska revival movement.[4] She adopted a stage name in order to conceal her involvement in the band from her employer, choosing the surname Black partly in reaction to her upbringing - her adoptive family had always referred to her as "coloured" rather than black.[5]

Rolling Stone said of Black "Hands down, Pauline Black possessed the best voice that ever graced a 2-Tone release. Blessed with a bewitching soprano and dramatic panache, Black's voice reached plateaus that made every other musical detail sound like part of a backdrop painted just to set the stage for her entrance."[4]

The Selecter split up in 1982 but have sporadically reformed since 1994.

In 2001 Black, with J.J. Burnel (The Stranglers), Jake Burns (Stiff Little Fingers) and Nicky Welsh (The Selecter & Bad Manners) formed and toured as 3 Men & Black, doing acoustic versions of songs they are famous for, and talking a little about how they came to write the songs etc. The band continued with a line-up of Black and three male artists, which varied according to availability as the artists also continued with their separate careers, and has also included Bruce Foxton (The Jam & SLF), Eric Faulkner (Bay City Rollers) and Dave Wakeling (The Beat). An album, 3 Men + Black, Acoustic, featuring Black, Burnel, Burns, Foxton & Welsh was released in 2004.

Another revival of Selecter took place in 2010 with Black and Gaps Hendrickson from the original band once again playing together[4] under The Selecter name to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their debut album, Too Much Pressure.

In 2014 a portrait of Black was exhibited as part of the Return of the Rudeboy exhibition by Dean Chalkley and Harris Elliott at Somerset House, London.[6]

Television and acting career[edit]

After Selecter had split up, Black was co-host, with Bob Carolgees and Spit the Dog, of the children's television quiz show, Hold Tight.[7] She developed an acting career in television and theatre, appearing in dramas such as The Vice, The Bill, Hearts and Minds and 2000 Acres of Sky. She won the 1991 Time Out award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in the play All or Nothing at All.[8] She also starred alongside Christopher Lee in the horror film Funny Man. In 2010, she appeared in a Series 24 episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks, presented by Robert Webb, in the Identity Parade round.[9]

Radio career[edit]

In 2007, Black narrated the BBC Four documentary Soul Britannia, which chronicles the history of British soul music. She later appeared in the follow-up Reggae Britannia as an interviewee, and as a member of The Selecter.

Book writing career[edit]

In 2011 Black released her autobiography, Black by Design.[10]


  1. ^ a b "How Pauline Black became a 2-Tone icon". Coventry Telegraph. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Pool, Hannah (30 July 2011). "Pauline Black: Going back to my roots". London: Retrieved 4 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "She sang the protest songs the last time Britain rioted". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c "Welcome to the Official Website of legendary 2-tone band". Retrieved 4 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Simpson, Dave (21 April 2015). "The Selecter: how we made On My Radio". Retrieved 17 May 2015. 
  6. ^ Whitfield, Zoe. "Return of the Rudeboy". Clash Music. Retrieved 9 December 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  7. ^ "Hold Tight". Retrieved 4 August 2011. 
  8. ^ "Pauline Black". Retrieved 3 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "Never Mind The Buzzcocks – Episode 24.11. Episode Eleven – British Comedy Guide". Retrieved 2014-05-23. 
  10. ^ "Black by Design - A 2-Tone Memoir". Retrieved 17 December 2015. 

External links[edit]