A DEGREE in biochemistry seems a long way from Top of the Pops, but it was what brought Pauline to Coventry. And it was in Coventry where she initially made her mark with The Selecter, the band which, along with The Specials and The Beat, led the way in the 2 Tone movement.
Named after 2 Tone Records, the ska revival fused Jamaican ska rhythms with the aggression of punk. The lyrics were overtly political, promoting racial unity at a time when tensions were high and riots were breaking out in the UK.
The Selecter's current tour, coming to Bingley Festival this month, sees them perform seminal debut album Too Much Pressure in its entirety. The band has played festivals across Europe and America, where they went down a storm at Coachella in California. This autumn they support The Levellers on a UK tour.
In her pork pie hat and Fred Perry shirt, armed with a soprano voice described as "bewitching", Pauline was the iconic Rude Girl at the heart of the late 1970s ska revival scene. Born in Romford, she was adopted by a white couple and aged 42 she discovered her birth mother was Jewish and her father Nigerian.
After graduating from Coventry Polytechnic Pauline trained as a radiographer and worked for the NHS before the music industry beckoned. She was a founder member of The Selecter in 1979. The band split in 1982 but later reformed and has played sporadically for the past 20 years.
"It's great to play festivals; we've played in six countries this month," says Pauline, who has also carved a career as a TV presenter, actress and writer over the past three decades. "Playing festivals, and gigging with acts like the Levellers and Pil gets us across to different audiences.
"Thirty five years on from when we started we're in a troubled world, and the themes we sang about are still relevant. I'm always amazed that audiences are still as strong for 2 Tone music, but I guess the internet has opened up a 'smorgasbord' of different music styles to choose from. Ska is very joyous music, it's a good social vibe. People love a movement - and all you need for 2 Tone is a pair of Doc Martens and a Fred Perry shirt!"
The Selecter's tour celebrates the 35th anniversary of Too Much Pressure, a Top 5 album featuring hits such as Three Minute Hero, Missing Words and the title track. The gigs also feature favourites from The Selecter's back catalogue, including evergreen hit On My Radio.
"We were playing at the same time as bands like the Sex Pistols and The Clash. We took ska of the 60s and mixed it with a bit of punk, Tamla and rock," says Pauline. "The best music takes what came before and mixes it with other things. That's always been the case, even going back to the Beatles who were influenced by the old R&B."
The Selecter came at a time when, fuelled by the have-a-go ethos of punk, bands were springing up in garages across the country. "Today you can make a video on your iPhone and post it online but in our day we had to get into a studio before we could record anything," says Pauline. "You can't get anywhere without ideas though, that's what leads to longevity."
* The Selecter are at Bingley Festival on Friday, Aug 29. The festival runs from August 29 to September 1. For tickets go to bingleymusiclive.com