Paloma Faith (33) is an English singer-songwriter and actress, known for her unique, retro and eccentric style. Her warm, lazy summer voice takes you to the jazz club and back, hinting of illicit voluptuous pleasures; a distinctive and compelling sound that we really like.
In 2009, she released her debut album Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?, which was certified double Platinum in the United Kingdom. The album spawned two top 20 hits in the UK: “Stone Cold Sober” and “New York”. In May 2012, Faith released her second studio album, Fall to Grace, which reached number two on the UK Albums Chart and has since been certified double-platinum in the UK. The first single, “Picking Up the Pieces”, became Faith’s highest charting single to date and first top ten in the UK. Faith released her third album, A Perfect Contradiction on 10th March 2014.
In 2011, Faith was nominated for “British Female Solo Artist” at the BRIT Awards. In 2013, Faith received two nominations for “Best Female” and “Best British Album” at the BRIT Awards. Faith has also made feature film appearances in the 2007 remake St Trinian’s, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and Dread.
Faith was born to an English mother and Spanish father in Hackney. Her parents divorced when she was four years old, and she was raised by her mother in Stoke Newington.
As a child, Faith was encouraged to dance by her mother and took weekly ballet classes in Dalston. After completing her A-levels at City and Islington College, she went on to study for a degree in contemporary dance at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Faith then went on to study for an MA in theatre directing at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, funding her studies by working various part-time jobs, which included: a sales assistant at Agent Provocateur, a singer in a burlesque cabaret, a life model and a magician’s assistant.
2007–2008: Career beginnings
Faith’s first foray into music began when she mimicked famous soul and jazz singers including Etta James and Billie Holiday, whom she admired and cites as influences for her own work. Faith met her managers Jamie Binns and Christian Wåhlberg of Lateral Management in 2007. Binns had been tipped off by the producer Peanut, a client who had recently worked with Faith in his studio and been suitably impressed. He met up with Faith shortly afterwards and was “completely blown away”, later saying: “I wasn’t sure what this girl was going to do – she was an actress and a singer – but there was just something about her in that artistic realness that when I came out of the meeting I called Christian and said, ‘We have to do something with this girl!’”
Although Faith had been looking for a manager, she was still wary about entering into a formal agreement with Binns and Wåhlberg. She instead wanted to build their relationship before any contracts were signed. The managers spent six months to a year helping Faith with the A&R process, setting up sessions, and guiding and advising her before Faith was officially signed to Lateral Management.
During her time at college, Faith worked in a pub where the manager Dr Vishaal Goel asked her to front his band, which they later called ‘Paloma and the Penetrators’. During a performance with the band at a cabaret show, Faith was scouted by an A&R man from Epic Records, who invited Faith to sing for the manager of the label. Twenty minutes into the audition, Faith asked the manager to turn his phone off and when he refused, she walked out.
Epic A&R Joanna Charrington told HitQuarters “When she played a showcase for us it was clear that she was a star but the material was a bit generic. She didn’t have the hit songs.” Not being one hundred percent convinced the label executives decided to wait. During this time Charrington regularly checked Faith’s MySpace page “to see if she had something that had a special direction or sound.” After several months her attention was eventually piqued by “Broken Doll”, which she thought was a well-crafted song with a “fantastic chorus and brilliant lyrics.”
Charrington told Epic managing director Nick Raphael “I think we should get this girl back in. She sounds like she is getting it now. We can help her get the songs.” Faith revealed in an interview that the manager called her and offered her a contract saying he had seen many acts since and none had been as memorable as her. Faith turned down an opportunity to join Amy Winehouse’s band and she began to write and perform her own songs.
Faith’s first recognised work was the song “It’s Christmas (And I Hate You)”, which she recorded as a duet with singer-songwriter, Josh Weller in 2008. Faith’s music is influenced by soul and jazz and her singing style has been compared favourably to those of Amy Winehouse and Duffy.
2009–2010: Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?
Faith released her debut single, “Stone Cold Sober”, in mid-2009 and it reached Number 17 on the UK Singles Chart. Faith’s second single, “New York” was released in September 2009. The song made its peak position in early October, peaking at number 15 on the UK Singles Chart. Faith then released her debut album, Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?, on 28 September 2009. Faith wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on the album in the UK, Sweden and America and recorded it entirely in London.
It debuted at number 14 on the UK Albums Chart and later peaked at number 9, it remained in the chart for sixteen weeks. The album became BBC Radio 2′s ‘Album of the Week’ from 19 September 2009.
In the same year, Faith appeared as a guest vocalist on Basement Jaxx’s Scars album and on American hip-hop artist MF Doom’s album, Born Like This.
Faith released her third single, the album’s title track, “Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?” on 21 December 2009. The song did not perform as well as Faith’s previous singles and failed to reach the top twenty. It peaked at number 64 in January 2010.
In March 2010, Faith released her fourth single, “Upside Down”, which peaked at Number 55 in the UK. To promote the album, Faith went on her first tour, featuring dates in the UK, Germany and France.
On 4 November 2009, Faith announced her first headlining tour of the UK and Ireland starting on 17 March 2010. The Times described the tour as being “full of theatrical artifice, but based on the rock-solid foundation of [Faith]‘s sensational singing voice and a personality that sparkled like a rough diamond”.
Faith performed a live set for the BBC‘s Radio 2 Introduces… and gave an interview to the station’s host, Dermot O’Leary. Faith also appeared on current events programme This Week discussing her views on the British education system with Michael Portillo. During this month she also appeared as a guest on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, performed the song “Upside Down” on The Hollyoaks Music Show, and performed her single “New York” on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. She also appeared on the BBC‘s Later with Jools Holland, recorded on 13 October 2009, and his live Hootenanny on 31 December 2009.
Faith performed at numerous festivals throughout that summer, including T4 on the Beach. “Stone Cold Sober” was used as the backing track for a Rimmel commercial starring Lily Cole and the B-side, “I Just Wait”, was used in a UK television alcohol awareness advert. Samsung’s Corby mobile phone TV commercial featured Faith’s “Technicolour” song.
Faith became involved in an album artwork competition with BBC Blast in November 2009, in which teenagers won the chance to work alongside leading artists, photographers and music industry professionals to create new publicity artwork for the singer.
During an interview with Mayer Nissim of Digital Spy in March 2010, Faith revealed that she was working on a second album, and that if she continued to make losses for her record label they would drop her. Faith’s manager subsequently denied any suggestion that her contract with the label was under threat, saying that, on the contrary, debut album UK sales of 500,000 without a hit single is an impressive foundation for a long-term career, and Sony are “smart enough” to recognise that and are 110% behind her.
Faith, along with Adam Deacon and Bashy, recorded the theme song to the 2010 British film 184.108.40.206. The track, titled “Keep Moving”, was released on 28 May 2010. In the same month, Faith performed at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival with the The Guy Barker Orchestra. The performance was broadcast on BBC Radio 2.
In June 2010, it was announced that Faith would re-release an updated version of “New York” featuring rapper Ghostface Killah. The single was released on 1 August 2010. Faith released a live EP album following an appearance at the 2010 iTunes Festival. The album charted at number 11 on the iTunes top 200 albums.
Faith revealed in a September interview that she would be releasing her new single “Smoke & Mirrors” in October 2010. The track was the final single from her debut album and its video was uploaded to YouTube. It peaked at Number 140 on the UK Singles Chart.
2011–2013: Fall to Grace
In January 2011, Faith was nominated for “British Female Solo Artist” at the 2011 BRIT Awards. At the ceremony, Faith performed “Forget You” alongside Cee Lo Green. Faith appeared on the charity single “Hard Times” alongside Plan B and Elton John. She also recorded the song “Desire” with Graham Coxon and Bill Ryder-Jones for a Converse campaign.
During an interview with a Popjustice reporter, Faith revealed that her second album would contain more “agony and suffering” and that she hoped it would be done with one producer for a “solid piece of work.” She explained “I love the beautiful side of things like that Tom Waitsy, Rufus Wainwrighty, Ed Harcourt sort of stuff, and in contrast I like all the OutKast production, Gnarls Barkley and ‘Beggin’ and all that sort of sound; contemporary but with a nod to the past. But you never know. You might just meet someone and something else would make sense.”
In July 2011, Faith revealed her frustrations about releasing the follow up to Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? She did not know when the album was going to be completed and commented that the process was slow. Faith also admitted being signed to a major record label made her feel under pressure to be instantly successful. On 7 February 2012, a writer for the Gloucestershire Echo reported Faith had been named as Artist in Residence for the 2012 Cheltenham Jazz Festival.
On 29 February 2012, Faith revealed her second album would be called Fall to Grace and that it would be released by RCA Records on 28 May 2012. Faith enlisted record producers Nellee Hooper and Jake Gosling to work with her on the project.
Faith told Dom Gourlay of Contactmusic.com that Fall to Grace is a personal record about a period of her life. Faith wrote and recorded the album in London. The album peaked at number 2 on the UK Albums Chart. The first single from the album was “Picking Up the Pieces”, which was released on 20 May. It debuted at number 7 on the UK Singles Chart, making it Faith’s highest charting single to date.
On 4 April 2012, Alex Fletcher of Digital Spy reported Faith had joined The Voice UK as one of four guest mentors. Faith worked with coach Danny O’Donoghue during the battle rounds phase of the competition. She also performed “Picking Up the Pieces” during the fourth results show. To promote Fall to Grace, Faith performed “Just Be”, a track from the album, on Later… with Jools Holland.
In May 2012, Faith recorded a video for the Out4Marriage campaign, a group supporting the legalisation of same-sex marriage in England and Wales. The singer stated that she was proud to be backing the campaign. In June, Faith announced plans for a headline tour of the UK and Ireland in early 2013.
That same month, it was announced that Faith had been signed to Epic Records in the United States. The label’s CEO, L.A. Reid, stated “In an era where authenticity resonates, Paloma is the epitome of soul. It’s an honour for Epic Records to be part of her career in the United States.”
On 4 July, Faith revealed “30 Minute Love Affair” would be the second single released from Fall to Grace. Faith recorded a version of INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart” for a John Lewis advertisement, which began airing on television from 15 September 2012. She later confirmed that the song would be released as her next single.
In late 2012, Fall to Grace was certified Platinum in the UK by the British Phonographic Industry. Faith released “Just Be”, as the fourth single from the album on 16 December 2012. Paloma Faith received two nominations at the 2013 Brit Awards; for Best Female and for Best British Album for Fall to Grace.
2013–present: A Perfect Contradiction
In January 2013, Paloma revealed that she was beginning to write her third studio album during her time in the United States, intending to work on it while in New York City.
In February it was announced that Faith would be headlining the Evolution Festival, UK in Newcastle upon Tyne on Monday 27 May 2013 with The Vaccines headlining the day before. Other acts performing before Faith included Jake Bugg, AlunaGeorge and Bastille.
In January 2014, Paloma’s official website updated to feature a short film which Paloma narrates in Italian, before ending and providing a link to a pre-order on Amazon.co.uk scheduled for 10 March 2014. The title of the album was later revealed to be A Perfect Contradiction and will be preceded by the single, “Can’t Rely on You”, produced by Pharrell Williams. Lead single ‘Can’t Rely on You’ debuted at 10 on the UK Official Charts.
In 2007, she appeared in an episode of the BBC police drama HolbyBlue portraying a thief. Paloma was also cast as Andrea in St Trinian’s in 2007. Faith was also cast in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus as Sally, the girlfriend of the Devil (played by Tom Waits) in 2009. She also appeared in the horror film Dread as Clara Thornhill. She later starred in the Channel 4′s series Coming Up and the short film A Nice Touch. Of getting the part, she stated “I don’t think they even knew I was an actress. I went to an audition and they said that they liked my interpretation of the character and I said, ‘I’m just being myself’.” In 2013, Faith appeared as cabaret performer Georgia, in a television adaptation of P. G. Wodehouse’s Blandings (episode The Crime Wave at Blandings) on the BBC.
Faith was briefly married to New Zealand chef Rian Haynes in 2005. They split after eight months and were divorced four years later. Faith has been accused of age fabrication after claiming early in her career to being born in 1985. She later admitted to having been born in 1981 after her birth certificate was revealed online. In 2011, a portrait of Faith was painted by British artist Joe Simpson, the painting was exhibited around the UK including a solo exhibition at The Royal Albert Hall.
Bring us more of your unique sound, Paloma!
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