My best teacher - Lemar

26th February 2010 at 00:00
The `Fame Academy' finalist remembers a `cuddly' primary teacher who always saw good where others found negativity

I went to St Paul's and All Hallows Primary School in Tottenham, north London - near where I grew up. I thought school was really cool and I was quite good at my studies. I was the same when I was a kid as I am now: I'm shy until I know you, but once I know you I'm the complete opposite, cracking jokes all the time. I was always the intermediary: in there with the cool kids and also with not so cool kids. If someone was getting picked on, I would step in and say: "Leave them alone".

My favourite primary teacher was Mrs Jameson. She wasn't my class teacher but she was there the whole time I was at school, and she would sometimes take us for lessons such as art. I have a memory of her being at the entrance to our assembly hall and welcoming us into the canteen.

It was the little things she did. When you were in the playground and got into a fight, she was always the person who would take the injured person to the nurse and try to talk it out.

A lot of teachers would get angry, but she would try to get to the bottom of it and then she would give you a hug. She would always look for the good in you rather than chastise.

She was always positive and gave me a great sense of confidence. Whether it was in the classroom or the playground, she would be very supportive of anything you did.

Mrs Jameson was very cuddly: on the bigger side, but in a nice way. She had blonde wispy hair and was probably around 40. I was really close to my mum, and Mrs Jameson was a similar shape to her and was very warm and loving like her. Maybe that was why I was drawn to her.

I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. My parents were the typical African, "Make sure you study" kind of parents. They wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer. After secondary school, I got a place at Cardiff University to do pharmacy, but then I fell in love with music along the way.

My mum and dad were both pastors so there was always music at church and uplifting gospel music, or Michael Jackson and Al Green, playing at home. To be honest, in school, although I did music, I didn't take much notice of it. I always loved singing, but music was never really on my radar as something that I could seriously do to earn a living until I got to college and realised I could actually get into it.

I supported Usher and Destiny's Child when I was just 16 or 17, and really enjoyed doing a lot of shows. So when the time came to go to university I was really split in two as to whether I should take a year out and do music or make my parents happy and get the degree. I decided to take a year out and it turned into eight years. After that I decided to go back to university, but then three months before I was going to start, I auditioned for Fame Academy and it all worked out.

Everything that you go through when you are young shapes you for when you are older. Teachers like Mrs Jameson give you the confidence to be in a different environment away from what you are used to, and still find ways of communicating and understanding what you are doing.

  • Lemar's new album, `The Hits', is released on March 1. He was talking to Meabh Ritchie.

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