Paula Sides was born in Cookville, Tennessee. She recieved a BA with honors from the Schwob School of Music in Columbus, Georgia.
She studied on the RCM opera course, where she received the Tagor Gold Medal. Other prizes include the Karavoitis Prize at the Les Azuriales International Competition and the Coutts & Co. Award along with the Sir Thomas Allen Scholarship supported by a Clayton Award. In 2009 she was the vocal finalist in the Young Concert Artists Trust competition at the Wigmore Hall.