Jamie Cullum

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Jamie Cullum
Jamie Cullum in 2018 (cropped).jpg
Cullum performing at The Queen's Birthday Party in 2018
Background information
Born (1979-08-20) 20 August 1979 (age 39)
Rochford, Essex, England
  • Vocals
  • piano
  • guitar
  • drums
Years active1999–present
Website www.jamiecullum.com

Jamie Cullum (born 20 August 1979) [1] is an English jazz-pop singer-songwriter and radio presenter. Although primarily a vocalist and pianist, he also accompanies himself on other instruments, including guitar and drums. Since April 2010, he has presented a weekly evening jazz show on BBC Radio 2. [2]

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

BBC Radio 2 British national radio station

BBC Radio 2 is one of the BBC's national radio stations and the most popular station in the United Kingdom with over 15 million weekly listeners. Much of its daytime playlist-based programming is adult contemporary or AOR, although the station also broadcasts other specialist musical genres. Radio 2 broadcasts throughout the UK on FM between 88.1 and 90.2 MHz from studios in Wogan House, adjacent to Broadcasting House in central London. Programmes are relayed on digital radio via DAB, Sky, Cable TV, IPTV, Freeview, Freesat and the Internet.


Early life

His Jewish father, whose mother had managed to flee Nazi Germany, was born in Jerusalem. His mother, whose father was Indian and mother Burmese, was born in Burma; when the Japanese invaded, the family left Burma and moved to Wales, with his mother aged five. [3]

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Jerusalem City in the Middle East

Jerusalem is a city in the Middle East, located on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, and is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital, as Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions there and the State of Palestine ultimately foresees it as its seat of power; however, neither claim is widely recognized internationally.

Japanese conquest of Burma

The Japanese conquest of Burma was the opening chapter of the Burma Campaign in the South-East Asian Theatre of World War II, which took place over four years from 1942 to 1945. During the first year of the campaign, the Japanese Army drove British Empire and Chinese forces out of Burma, then began the Japanese occupation of Burma and formed a nominally independent Burmese administrative government.

Cullum was born in Rochford, Essex, [4] but was brought up in Hullavington, north of Chippenham, Wiltshire. [5] He attended Grittleton House School until the age of 15, [5] followed by Sheldon School in Chippenham. [6] He rejected a place to study English Literature at the University of Oxford in favour of reading English Literature and Film Studies at the University of Reading, from which he graduated with First Class Honours. [7]

Rochford town in Essex, England, United Kingdom

Rochford is a town in the Rochford district of Essex in the East of England. It is about 43 miles (69 km) from Central London and approximately 21 miles (34 km) from Chelmsford, the County Town of Essex. According to the 2001 census the civil parish of Rochford, which includes the town proper, and London Southend Airport, had a population of 7,610, increasing to 8,471 at the 2011 Census.

Hullavington village in United Kingdom

Hullavington is a village and civil parish in Wiltshire, England, just to the north of the M4 motorway. The village lies about 4 miles (6 km) southwest of Malmesbury and 5 12 miles (9 km) north of Chippenham.

Chippenham town in Wiltshire, England

Chippenham is a large historic market town in northwest Wiltshire, England. It lies 20 miles (32 km) east of Bristol, 86 miles (138 km) west of London and 4 miles (6 km) west of The Cotswolds AONB. The town was established on a crossing of the River Avon and some form of settlement is believed to have existed there since before Roman times. It was a royal vill, and probably a royal hunting lodge, under Alfred the Great. The town continued to grow when the Great Western Railway arrived in 1841; it is now a major commuter town.


Cullum produced his first album, Heard It All Before , with only £480. It was released in 1999 with only 500 copies made. [8] The success of the album led to an invitation to appear on Geoff Gascoyne's album Songs of the Summer. [9]

<i>Heard It All Before</i> (album) 1999 studio album by Jamie Cullum Trio

Heard It All Before is the debut album by Jamie Cullum, released when he was without a record deal, and produced with only £480. It was released in 1999 with only 500 copies made. Copies are now highly sought after

After graduating from Reading University, Cullum released his best-selling album, Pointless Nostalgic (2002), which stirred interest from broadcasters Michael Parkinson [10] and Melvyn Bragg.

<i>Pointless Nostalgic</i> 2002 studio album by Jamie Cullum

Pointless Nostalgic is Jamie Cullum's second album but his first major release on a record label. It was released in 2002 through Candid Records. It was recorded at Clowns Pocket Recording Studio, Bexley, Kent by Derek Nash who also co produced the CD.

Sir Michael Parkinson is an English broadcaster, journalist and author. He presented his television talk show, Parkinson, from 1971 to 1982 and from 1998 to 2007, as well as other talk shows and programmes both in the UK and internationally. He has also worked in radio broadcasting. He has been described by The Guardian as "the great British talkshow host".

Melvyn Bragg British broadcaster and author

Melvyn Bragg, Baron Bragg,, is an English broadcaster, author and parliamentarian. He is best known for his work with ITV as editor and presenter of The South Bank Show (1978–2010), and for the Radio 4 discussion series In Our Time.

Just after Cullum made his first television appearance, on Parkinson in April 2003, he signed a £1m contract [11] for three albums with Universal, who beat Sony in a bidding war. Cullum's second studio album, Twentysomething , released in October 2003, went platinum and became the No. 1 selling studio album by a jazz artist in the United Kingdom. Cullum ended 2003 as the UK's biggest selling jazz artist of all time. [11]

<i>Parkinson</i> (TV series) British television chat show

Parkinson is a British television chat show that was presented by Michael Parkinson. It was first shown on BBC1 from 19 June 1971 to 8 May 2004 then on ITV from 4 September 2004 to 22 December 2007.

Pound sterling official currency of the United Kingdom and other territories

The pound sterling, commonly known as the pound and less commonly referred to as sterling, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the British Antarctic Territory, and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence. A number of nations that do not use sterling also have currencies called the pound.

Universal Music Group American music corporation

Universal Music Group is an American global music corporation that is a subsidiary of the French media conglomerate Vivendi. UMG's global corporate headquarters are located in Santa Monica, California. It is considered one of the "Big Three" record labels, along with Sony Music and Warner Music Group. Since 2004, the corporation is no longer related to the film studio Universal Studios.

Although primarily a jazz musician, Cullum performs in a wide range of styles and is generally regarded as a "crossover" artist with his musical roots firmly based in jazz. Cullum draws his inspiration from many different musicians and listens to an eclectic mix of music including Miles Davis. [12]

A stomp box made from a small wooden block (not to be confused with an effect pedal for guitars) features in Cullum's concerts. The box is used to amplify a musician's tapping foot. Cullum found this in Melbourne, Australia and uses it to enhance upbeat and fast-paced songs such as "Seven Nation Army", originally by The White Stripes, and "Gold Digger", originally by Kanye West. He also often uses a looping machine; this plays a major part in Cullum's versions of "Seven Nation Army" and "Teardrop" by Massive Attack. Cullum also beatboxes at most gigs.

As well as The White Stripes and Kanye West, Cullum has performed work by Massive Attack, Pharrell, Rihanna, Pussycat Dolls, Radiohead, Gnarls Barkley, Elton John, Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Joy Division, Lady Gaga and many others. He has performed with Deltron 3030, Kylie Minogue, Sugababes, will.i.am, Burt Bacharach and The Heritage Orchestra.

Cullum has played at many large music festivals, including Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (in 2006, 2009 and 2015), Montreux Jazz Festival (2004, 2009, 2014, 2016, 2018), Glastonbury (2004, 2009 and 2017), New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (in 2005), Coachella (2005), South by Southwest (2004, 2006), North Sea Jazz Festival, the Hollywood Bowl (performing with the Count Basie Orchestra), the 2006 Playboy Jazz Festival, the 2007 Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival and the 2008 Monterey Jazz Festival. On 30 April 2006 Cullum played his biggest-ever crowd on Queensday in the Netherlands.

In February 2012, Germany picked Roman Lob with "Standing Still", a composition by Cullum alongside Steve Robson and Wayne Hector, as their entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. [13]

In October 2014, Cullum appeared in a comedy sketch with Jimmy Carr and Daisy Lowe, which was made for Channel 4's The Feeling Nuts Comedy Night to raise awareness of testicular cancer.

In January 2017, Cullum appeared as a member of the house band in ITV's The Halcyon . [14]

Pointless Nostalgic

On this album, Cullum created covers of old classics with new arrangements of Bob Dorough's composition "Devil May Care", Thelonious Monk's "Well You Needn't" and Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So".

The song as recorded by Cullum ("It Ain't Necessarily So") is also used in the film The Anatomy of Hate; A Dialogue to Hope by Mike Ramsdell.


Recorded at London's Mayfair Studio and released in 2003, Twentysomething contains a mix of jazz standards, contemporary tunes and ballads. This was around the same time he voiced future-era DJ English Hughie in the 2005 business simulation PC game The Movies . [15]

Due to the acoustic nature of the music, producer Stewart Levine chose to record and mix Twentysomething entirely on analogue tape.

The album includes jazz standards "What a Diff'rence a Day Made", "Singin' in the Rain", and Cole Porter's "I Get a Kick out of You", modern takes on My Fair Lady 's "I Could Have Danced All Night", Jeff Buckley’s "Lover, You Should Have Come Over", and Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary", as well as new tracks written by Cullum and his brother Ben, including the first single from the album All At Sea and the title track "Twentysomething".

Catching Tales

Catching Tales has been released on double vinyl, as was the first single, "Get Your Way". A limited edition version of the "Get Your Way" single was released on red vinyl.

Cullum performing at Colours of Ostrava, July 2009 Jamie Cullum at Colours of Ostrava 2009.jpeg
Cullum performing at Colours of Ostrava, July 2009

Cullum toured in support of Catching Tales from the end of October 2005 to December 2006.

The Pursuit

On 4 June 2009, Cullum announced the title of his fourth studio album, The Pursuit . The album, which was released on 10 November 2009, was produced by Greg Wells, [16] and the first single was "I'm All Over It", written with Deacon Blue frontman, Ricky Ross. The album was recorded at a Los Angeles studio, using songs that Cullum originally recorded at his Shepherd's Bush recording studio, Terrified Studios. [17]

The Pursuit was recorded in a variety of places: Cullum's kitchen, a studio in L.A. and Terrified Studios (his own in Shepherd's Bush). Various musicians were also used in the recording process. Songs recorded in L.A. mostly used session musicians and sees Greg Wells and Cullum play various instrument including drums and bass. "Don't Stop The Music", the second single from the album (released as a download only in January 2010) [18] was recorded with Chris Hill and Brad Webb.

From 2003 to 2008, Cullum played consistently with Geoff Gascoyne on bass, and Sebastiaan de Krom on drums. From 2003 until 2004 the trio was joined by Ben Castle on saxophone, John Hoare on trumpet, Barnaby Dickinson on trombone and Malcolm MacFarlane on guitar. Sam Wedgwood (guitarist, bassist and trumpeter) later joined Cullum on tour, for a little over a year. At the end of 2005 Cullum was joined by Tom Richards (saxophonist, occasional guitarist and percussion). Soon after that Sam Wedgwood left to pursue his own solo musical career. At the beginning of 2006 Rory Simmons (trumpeter and guitarist) joined the band as a replacement, bringing the total number of band members (including Cullum himself) to five.

In late 2009 Cullum replaced Geoff Gascoyne (bass) and Sebastiaan de Krom (drums) with Chris Hill (bass) and Brad Webb (drums).


Jamie Cullum's album Momentum was released on 20 May 2013. In conjunction with the album, he performed six intimate gigs across Europe; the first was in London. [19]

In an interview with NBHAP Cullum told that "Momentum" is about the crossover period from being a young man while having one foot in the adult world, and about the balance of childish fantasies with grand and epic responsibilities. [20]


'Interlude' is an album consisting of jazz covers, released on 6 October 2014. Recorded with producer Benedic Lamdin of big band Nostalgia 77, and recorded in one take, the album was influenced by Cullum's BBC Radio 2 weekly jazz show. The duets on the album include two acts for which Cullum's radio show acted as a springboard for mainstream success: Laura Mvula featured on the track "Good Morning Heartache", and Gregory Porter on the lead single "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood".

Available in standard and deluxe versions, the latter including a DVD of Cullum's full performance at Jazz à Vienne, and an exclusive photo booklet containing tour and studio pictures. [21]

To celebrate the launch of his first pure jazz album, Cullum played the most iconic jazz clubs in the world, including Blue Note Jazz Club in New York, and London's Ronnie Scott's.

"God Only Knows"

Cullum performing at Akershus Festning, Oslo in 2017 Jamie Cullum (210945).jpg
Cullum performing at Akershus Festning, Oslo in 2017

In October 2014 Cullum was part of the 2014 BBC charity single for Children in Need, "God Only Knows". He appeared in the song video, in a hot air balloon, wearing a salmon-coloured Alexander McQueen suit. [22] [23]

On 30 April 2016 Cullum played at The White House in Washington, D.C., as part of the International Jazz Day Global Concert. [24]

Eighth studio album

In February 2017, Cullum announced he was working on his next studio album following the release of its first single "Work of Art" on 17 February. [25]


The British Jazz Awards recognised Cullum's growing success by awarding him the "Rising Star" award, at the 2003 ceremony in July. [11] At the 2004 BRIT Awards, Cullum was nominated in the "British Breakthrough Act" category. He performed live in the ceremony at Earl's Court, a duet with Katie Melua of The Cure's "The Lovecats". In the 2005 BRIT Awards, Cullum was nominated for two awards: "Best Male Artist" and "Best Live Act". In 2005 Cullum was nominated for a Grammy while taking BBC Radio 2 "Artist of the Year" honours at the BBC Jazz Awards (as voted for by listeners of Radio 2). In 2007 Cullum won the Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club Award for "Best British Male". He was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for his composition Gran Torino for the Clint Eastwood film Gran Torino . At the Jazz FM awards 2013, he was a nominee for UK Jazz Artist of the Year. [26]

2003British Jazz Awardsn/aRising StarWon
2004 Silver Clef Awards Best NewcomerWon
MOBO Awards Best Jazz ActWon
Brit Awards British Breakthrough Act Nominated
2005 British Male Solo Artist Nominated
British Live ActNominated
BBC Jazz Awards Artist of the YearWon
Naomi Awards Worst British MaleWon
Grammy Awards Twentysomething Best Jazz Vocal Album Nominated
2006 ECHO Awards n/aBest Jazz ActNominated
Meteor Music Awards Best International MaleNominated
2007 Ronnie Scott's Jazz AwardsBest British MaleWon
2008 St. Louis Film Critics Association Gran Torino Best MusicNominated
2009 Golden Globe Awards "Gran Torino" Best Original Song Nominated
World Soundtrack Awards Best Original Song Nominated
2012New York Festival Radio AwardsJamie Cullum's BBC Radio ShowBest Jazz FormatWon
Parliamentary Jazz Awardsn/aJazz Broadcaster of the YearWon
2013 Jazz FM AwardsUK Jazz Artist of the YearWon
2014 Radio Academy Awards Jamie Cullum's BBC Radio ShowBest Music ProgrammeWon


Cullum's early music career saw him playing three or four times a week at PizzaExpress's restaurants throughout London, gaining exposure and later his big break with Universal. In 2011 the "Pizza Express Big Audition with Jamie Cullum" competition gave singers, songwriters and musicians a platform and a chance to win a £5,000 prize and a residency at the restaurant chain's Dean Street Jazz Club. 7,500 acts entered the competition and the final, which was held at the Addison's Rooms in Kensington on 23 November, was judged by Cullum, Michael Parkinson, M People's Heather Small and other music critics. The winning act was Offbeat South, an urban group of 18- to 21-year-olds from Croydon. The other finalists were Andy Lewis, Elle Watson, Palms 13 and The Yesberger Band. [27]

Personal life

Cullum married former model Sophie Dahl in a private ceremony in Hampshire on 9 January 2010. [28] The two reside in the small town of Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, where Sophie's grandfather Roald Dahl lived for the second half of his life. Their daughter, Lyra, was born on 2 March 2011 [29] and their second daughter was born in 2013.

In 2011, a portrait of Cullum, painted by British artist Joe Simpson, was exhibited around the UK, including a solo exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall. [30]

Cullum was the guest for BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on 25 March 2012. His choices included The Lamb by John Tavener, and "Concerning the UFO Sighting near Highland Illinois" by Sufjan Stevens. His favourite was "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" by Randy Newman. [31]


Studio albums
Live albums

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