Jamie Cullum

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Jamie Cullum
Jamie Cullum 2011.jpg
Cullum performing in 2011
Background information
Born (1979-08-20) 20 August 1979 (age 37)
Rochford, Essex, England
Genres Vocal jazz, jazz-pop, swing
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Singing, piano
Years active 1999–present
Labels Lioness, UCJ, Candid, Decca, Verve, Verve Forecast, Deckdisc
Website www.jamiecullum.com

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

Early life[edit]

Cullum was born in Rochford, Essex.[2] He was brought up in Hullavington, north of Chippenham, Wiltshire.[3]


Cullum was educated at Grittleton House School, an independent school in the small village of Grittleton, near the market town of Chippenham in Wiltshire, followed by the sixth form of Sheldon School in Chippenham, a state comprehensive school. 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.


With only £480 to produce it, Cullum released his first album, Jamie Cullum Trio—Heard it All Before, in 1999, of which 500 copies were made. Due to their rarity, original copies have sold for as much as £600 on eBay. The success of Heard it All Before resulted in Cullum being invited to appear on Geoff Gascoyne's album Songs of the Summer.[4]

After graduating from Reading University, Cullum released his best-selling album, Pointless Nostalgic, which stirred interest from Michael Parkinson[5] and Melvyn Bragg.

Just after Cullum made his first television appearance, on Parkinson in April 2003, he signed a £1m contract[6] 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.[6]

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 from Miles Davis[7] to Tom Waits and many more. Cullum has belonged to several bands, ranging from banging drums in a hip hop group to playing guitar in rock bands such as Raw Sausage and The Mystery Machine, in his teenage youth. Cullum names his elder brother, Ben Cullum, as his biggest musical influence, and the two continue to collaborate extensively.[citation needed]

One of the many things that features in Cullum's concerts is the Stomp box (not to be confused with an effect pedal for guitars), made from a small wooden block. The stompbox 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 is also often found using a looping machine. This plays a heavy 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 also 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), Glastonbury Festival (in 2004 and 2009), New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (in 2005), Coachella 2005, 2006 South by Southwest, 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, along with Steve Robson, and Wayne Hector, as their entry for the Eurovision Song Contest.[8]

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.[9]

Throughout 2014 and into 2015 Cullum supported Billy Joel on his US arena shows playing many gigs at New York's Madison Square Gardens as well as Pennsylvania's Bryce Jordan's Centre.[citation needed]

Pointless Nostalgic[edit]

Pointless Nostalgic began life as a self-funded project and eventually got taken on by Candid Records[citation needed], featuring a mix of standards, originals and contemporary covers. It was recorded in Spring 2001 at Clown's Pocket Studios, Bexley, by Derek Nash and co-produced by Geoff Gascoyne.[citation needed]

On the 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.[10]

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[edit]

Cullum's third major label album, also produced by Stewart Levine, entitled Catching Tales, was released on 26 September 2005, in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, and two weeks later in the United States, on 11 October. The American and French versions of Catching Tales do not include the track "Fascinating Rhythm", which appears on the European version. The first single released from the album, in the United Kingdom, was "Get Your Way", a collaboration with Dan The Automator that used a sample from the Thad Jones song "Get Out Of My Life, Woman". The second single released, in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, was "Mind Trick", written by Cullum and his brother Ben. The third single from the album was the self-penned track "Photograph", which Cullum said was written on New Year's Day 2005 after he found a box of old photographs at his parents house.[citation needed]

A special edition version of Catching Tales was released in Europe, featuring a 20-minute documentary, including behind the scenes footage of Cullum recording the album and on the road footage, from across Europe. Catching Tales has also 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 collaborated with Pharrell Williams. They recorded various songs together and it was thought that the track titled "Wifey" would make an appearance on Catching Tales, but this was prevented by legal and contractual problems. Cullum's vocals finally featured on Pharrell's debut solo album, on a track titled "You Can Do It Too", though Cullum is not credited as a featured artist.

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[edit]

On 4 June 2009, Cullum announced the title of his fourth studio album, The Pursuit. The album, which was released on 10 November 2009, is produced by Greg Wells,[11] and the first single is "I'm All Over It", written by 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.[12]

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)[13] 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, Cullum performed six intimate gigs across Europe; the first was in London.[14]

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.[15]


Interlude is an album consisting of Jazz covers which was released on 6 October 2014. Recorded with Producer, Benedic Lamdin of Nostalgia 77, a big band and done in one take, the album was influenced by Jamie's BBC Radio 2 jazz show. The duets which feature on the album include two acts which Jamie's radio show acted as a springboard for their mainstream success, Laura Mvula featured on 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 Jamie's full performance at Jazz à Vienne and an exclusive photo booklet containing tour and studio pictures.[16]

To celebrate the launch of Jamie's first pure jazz album Jamie played the most iconic jazz clubs in the world including Blue Note Jazz Club in New York as well as London's Ronnie Scotts.

"God Only Knows"[edit]

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.[17][18]

On April 30, 2016, Cullum played at The White House in Washington, D.C., as part of The International Jazz Day Global Concert.[19]


The British Jazz Awards first recognised Cullum's growing success by awarding him the "Rising Star" award, at the 2003 ceremony in July.[6] 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 Scotts Jazz 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.[20]


Cullum's early music career saw him playing three or four times a week at Pizza Express's restaurants throughout London, gaining exposure and later his big break with Universal. Cullum now supports the "Pizza Express Big Audition with Jamie Cullum" competition which gives singers, songwriters and musicians a platform and a chance to win a £5000 prize and a residency at the restaurant chain's Dean Street Jazz Club. In 2011, 7,500 acts entered the competition and the final was held at the Addison's Rooms in Kensington on 23 November. The final was judged by Jamie Cullum himself, 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.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Cullum married former model Sophie Dahl in a private ceremony in Hampshire on 9 January 2010.[22] The two now reside in the small town of Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire - where Sophie's grandfather Roald Dahl lived for the last half of his life. On 11 September 2010, the couple confirmed that they were expecting a child.[23] Their daughter, Lyra, was born on 2 March 2011.[24] Their second daughter, Margot, was born on 4 March 2013.[25]

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.

Cullum was the subject of BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on 25 March 2012.


Studio Albums
Live albums


  1. ^ 3 days left. "Radio 2 Programmes - Jamie Cullum". BBC. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  2. ^ "Stock Photography image of Jamie Cullum was born in Rochford, Essex, stock photo pd2790984.jpg". Photographersdirect.com. 20 August 1979. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  3. ^ [1] Archived 5 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  4. ^ "Jamie Cullum - Biography". Contactmusic.com. 
  5. ^ McCormick, Neil (8 September 2005). "Jamie batters new life into jazz". The Daily Telegraph. UK. 
  6. ^ a b c Bishop, Tom (30 December 2003). "Jamie Cullum jazzes up music scene". BBC News. Retrieved 23 February 2009. 
  7. ^ "Biography". BBC Radio 2. Retrieved 23 February 2009. 
  8. ^ "Roman Lob for Germany with "Standing Still"". European Broadcasting Union. 16 February 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  9. ^ Agius, Nicola (3 November 2014). "'You could be saving my life': Jimmy Carr asks Daisy Lowe for a very personal favour as she slips into a sexy PVC nurse's outfit". Mail Online. 
  10. ^ The Movies
  11. ^ Mak, Lennat (9 June 2009). "Jamie Cullum – New album, The Pursuit, is noisy, fearless and more rock 'n' roll!". MTV Asia. Retrieved 21 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "The pursuit of happiness". Herald Scotland. 6 November 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2010. 
  13. ^ "Jamie Cullum – Don't Stop the Music". herculesmoments.co.uk. Retrieved 21 June 2010. 
  14. ^ ""Momentum" | Jamie Cullum | Available 20 May 2013". Momentum.jamiecullum.com. 2013-03-15. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  15. ^ Bonifer, Lisa. "Interview: Jamie Cullum – "Hurl yourself into it without thinking"". NBHAP. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  16. ^ http://interlude.jamiecullum.com
  17. ^ "BBC unveils all-star version of God Only Knows, 17 years after Perfect Day". the Guardian. 
  18. ^ "God only knows how the BBC made this video". Telegraph.co.uk. 9 October 2014. 
  19. ^ "International Jazz Day". jazzday.com. Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Jazz FM Awards 2013: Nominees". Jazz FM. 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  21. ^ "And the winner of The Big Audition is…". PizzaExpress. 24 November 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  22. ^ Jessen, Monique (11 January 2010). "Jamie Cullum and Sophie Dahl Marry in England". people.com. Retrieved 21 June 2010. 
  23. ^ "'Delighted' Sophie Dahl and Jamie Cullum expecting their first child due in February 2011". Daily Mail. London. 11 September 2010. 
  24. ^ Thompson, Jody (6 March 2011). "A Dahl-ing baby girl called Lyra for Sophie and Jamie". Daily Mail. London. 
  25. ^ "'We are completely thrilled!'Sophie Dahl and Jamie Cullum welcome second daughter Margot". Dailymail.co.uk. 7 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 

External links[edit]