‘Queen of Ska’ Pauline Black hails home city of Coventry after being made OBE

Pauline Black, frontwoman of influential 2-tone band The Selecter, has paid tribute to her home city of Coventry after being made an OBE.

The singer, actress and author, 68, has been named in the New Year Honours for services to entertainment following a four-decade career in the arts.

Coventry is currently UK City of Culture after the start of its programme was delayed to May, because of the impact and ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic.

Black, known to fans as the Queen of Ska, helped launch the programme by joining with other figures from the city, including Hollywood composer Clint Mansell and author Lee Child, to read the words of Victorian author George Eliot as part of a short film.

She said in a statement to the PA news agency: “It’s wonderful to receive this honour during Coventry’s UK City of Culture 2021 year.

“Coventry made me who I am today; giving me the opportunity to study, work and ultimately find my creative voice within the 2-tone movement, which has spearheaded the musical conversation about racism and sexism for the past 42 years.”

Inspired by punk and reggae, Black joined a fledging The Selecter in 1979 and the band released their debut album Too Much Pressure the next year.

Pauline Black
Pauline Black has been made an OBE (Dean Chalkley/PA)

Alongside acts such as The Specials, Madness and The Beat, they helped forge a music scene that encompassed ska, 2-tone and punk genres, with a focus on radical politics.

The band featured a mix of racial backgrounds and genders, and Black’s lyrics reflected this, addressing social issues including racism and sexism.

The Selecter went on to release five top 40 singles in the UK and continue to record and perform live today, with their latest album released in 2017.

In 2011, Black released her autobiography Black By Design and has in recent years collaborated with Blur frontman Damon Albarn on his Gorillaz and Africa Express projects.