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Born and raised in Paisley, Scotland, PAOLO NUTINI is a 22-year-old singer/songwriter who has been blessed with a soulful, passionate voice and the natural gift of being able to tell a story in a song. Like many of the truly inspired British vocalists who have come before him, Nutini has absorbed the soul of the great American R&B singers and channeled it into something original, captivating, and dynamic.
Paolo’s full-length Atlantic debut, These Streets, was an instant sensation upon its arrival in the U.K. in 2006, making a spectacular Top 3 chart entry amidst a flurry of critical acclaim. Songs such the stirring first single, “Last Request,” and the anthemic title track reveal Nutini to be an artist who knows an awful lot about the vicissitudes of life and love, with a unique gift for expressing the attitudes and experiences of someone both of his age and well beyond it.
Despite their Italian name, the Nutini family has lived in Paisley, Scotland for at least four generations. Paolo’s great-grandfather opened the fish and chip shop in Paisley which his parents now run. His musical education began with his late grandfather, who introduced him to Scottish folk songs as well as a wide range of other styles.
Exposure to classic R&B stars like the Drifters and Ray Charles came via his dad and an auntie’s record collection, while his own post-adolescent explorations brought him to the work of such troubadours as John Martyn and Van Morrison. Nutini first started singing publicly in his school choir, and though the choir’s choice of songs were hardly his favorites, one teacher quickly spotted his prodigious talent and guided the young singer through a more soulful repertoire.
At 16, Nutini hit the road with a friend’s band, acting as roadie, T-shirt vendor, and occasional on-stage support act. From there, the die was cast – Paolo quit school in Glasgow and moved to London, where he started performing regularly at clubs around town. His bold voice and provocative songs created an instant buzz. Nutini signed to Atlantic Records shortly after his 18th birthday and immediately headed north to Liverpool to work on his debut album with renowned producer Ken Nelson (Coldplay, Ray LaMontagne, Badly Drawn Boy).
A truly charismatic live performer, Nutini has supported such superstars as Paul Weller and the Rolling Stones, in addition to making sensational TV appearances on Top of the Pops and Later with Jools Holland. In May 2006, Paolo appeared at the New York Pops Birthday Gala at Carnegie Hall at the personal request of the evening’s honoree – Atlantic Records Founding Chairman Ahmet Ertegun. In July that year, Nutini brought the house down during a special tribute to Ertegun and Atlantic Records at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The only new artist on the bill, Nutini shared the stage with such icons as Solomon Burke, Robert Plant, and Kid Rock.
“Everything that has happened to me so far has been really good, really fluent,” Nutini says. “There have been a few bumps along the way, sure, but nothing fatal. All I want now is for enough people to identify with my songs so I can keep on singing them. I like to think they’re worth hearing.”