Rumer (musician)

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Rumer in 2014
Rumer in 2014
Background information
Birth nameSarah Joyce
Also known asSarah Prentice
Born (1979-06-03) 3 June 1979 (age 43)[1]
Tarbela Dam, Pakistan
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active2000–present

Sarah Joyce (born 3 June 1979), better known by her stage name, Rumer, is a Pakistan-born British singer-songwriter.[3] Supported by leading music industry figures including Burt Bacharach, Elton John, Carly Simon,[4] and Jools Holland, Rumer was nominated for two Brit awards on 13 January 2011. Her debut album, Seasons of My Soul, released in 2010, peaked on the UK Charts at #3,[5] was certified platinum in 2013 having sold over one million copies,[6] and was listed at #26 in the Official Top 40 Biggest Debut Albums of the Decade in 2019.[7] Rumer's voice has been described by The Guardian and many others as being reminiscent of Karen Carpenter.[8] Her stage name was inspired by the author Rumer Godden.[9] Boys Don't Cry, released in 2012, peaked on the UK Charts at #3.[10] She has performed at several festivals such as Glastonbury Festival.[11] Her album This Girl's in Love (A Bacharach & David Songbook) was released in November 2016.[12] In August 2020, she released her fifth album, Nashville Tears (The Songs of Hugh Prestwood).

Early life[edit]

Rumer, the seventh of eight children, was born in 1979 in Tarbela Dam, Pakistan. Rumer's family lived there from 1977 to 1984 while her British father was contracted as Chief Engineer of the Tarbela Dam Project.[13]

Her parents split and her Streatham-born mother moved back to England with Rumer and her siblings.[14] Rumer moved to Carlisle aged 11 and attended Newman Catholic School, where she won the school's annual talent show in 1994.[15] Rumer became fascinated with the work of Judy Garland at a young age, and sought solace from difficulties at home and school by listening to artists such as Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman. She was encouraged by her musical family, who all played instruments and played in their local Catholic church. This began her interest in becoming a performer.

Rumer later discovered her biological father was the family's Pakistani cook, with whom her mother had had an affair when living in Pakistan.[9] While her mother was dying of breast cancer in 2001, she asked Rumer to make the journey to Pakistan to search for her real father, with her mother reportedly saying "I want to leave this planet with my house in order". She discovered on arriving he had only recently died in a freak accident.[16]

Rumer briefly attended the drama course at Dartington College of Arts, in Devon before dropping out, moving to London at 18 and getting a job as a waitress.[citation needed]

Musical career[edit]

2001–2010: La Honda and Stereo Venus[edit]

Rumer in 2010

Under the name of Sarah Prentice, Sarah sang with a moderately successful London-based folk/indie band called La Honda between 2000 and 2001.[17] In 2004, she formed the band Rumer & The Denials and released an early version of "Come To Me High" on 7" in 2007.[18] Their Myspace page, now closed, included an acoustic recording of "Slow", which was included on the compilation album A Very Magistery Valentine.[19] A collection of material was recorded in 2008 with Rory Moore under the name Stereo Venus. This was aimed at television and film and was originally distributed in Europe. An album was released in 2012 entitled Close to the Sun and the band played support for Saint Etienne. The material was also released under her real name, Sarah Joyce in South Korea in April 2010 as Coffee And Honey.[20]

2010–2011: Solo career as Rumer, Seasons of My Soul and Rumer Sings Bacharach at Christmas[edit]

Rumer's debut album Seasons of My Soul was released on 1 November 2010, produced by her mentor, British composer Steve Brown.[21] Her debut single, "Slow", was featured on Smooth FM, and the single "Aretha" on BBC Radio 2's Record of the Week feature, and she is signed to Atlantic Records. Seasons of My Soul, peaked on the UK Charts at #3,[22] was listed at #26 in the Official Top 40 Biggest Debut Albums of the Decade in 2019,[7] and was certified platinum in 2013 having sold over one million copies.[6] She supported Jools Holland on his UK tour in the Autumn of 2010 which included a performance at the Albert Hall in London.[23]

Rumer received a personal note from Richard Carpenter (musician) regarding her debut album, "You not only sing beautifully," writes Carpenter, "but what you've created is actually musical, something that has been in short supply in recent years. The fact that the album is a sales success as well is reassuring to me, as I still firmly believe that if the public is exposed to music that is natural and of high quality, they will respond positively. Congratulations".[24]

After Burt Bacharach invited Rumer to his California home to hear her sing, Atlantic Records released Rumer Sings Bacharach at Christmas on 13 December 2010. It featured "Some Lovers" from the musical Gift of the Magi by Bacharach and Steven Sater.[25][26] A limited edition 7-inch vinyl version was also released with a cover personally designed by Rumer.[27]

Rumer also contributed to a memorial concert to film composer, John Barry, which took place on 20 June 2011 at the Royal Albert Hall in London where the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Dame Shirley Bassey, David Arnold, Wynne Evans, trumpeter Derek Watkins and others performed Barry's music.[28][29][30] Rumer performed the John Barry/Hal David song "We Have All the Time in the World" accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Dodd. She recorded the track "I Believe in You" for the end credits to Johnny English Reborn, released in October 2011. In January 2012 she started her first American tour in Los Angeles. A multi-national Facebook fan group, "Rumer Worldwide Fans", was founded by a fan in San Francisco on 25 January 2012.

2012–2013: Boys Don't Cry[edit]

Rumer's second album Boys Don't Cry was released on 28 May 2012. It contains a selection of songs by male artists and writers from the 70s and 80s period. Covers of songs by artists such as Todd Rundgren, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Neil Young and Terry Reid were chosen to mirror the solace and anguish Rumer experienced since achieving success and fame (BBC Music review).[31] The majority of Boys Don't Cry was recorded at the same time as, or before Seasons of My Soul, but two weeks before the deadline Rumer and Steve Brown irreparably fell out. Rumer sought urgent help to finish the record and enlisted family friend Jennie Muskett, a notable film and TV composer to step in and help realise her vision in Steve's absence. A lot of the music had to be re-recorded at RAK Studios with John Paraceli on guitar, Ian Thomas and Steve Pierce on drums and Dave Hartley on piano.

Rumer's version of PF Sloan written by Jimmy Webb was released as a single, followed by a second single written by Hall and Oates, "Sara Smile". She appeared on The Andrew Marr show with Jools Holland at the end of 2012 and performed with Jimmy Webb on CBS Second Cup Cafe in September 2013.[32] Rumer was interviewed on The Graham Norton show and performed PF Sloan, just previous to the release of Boys Don't Cry. Rumer later performed "P.F. Sloan" as a duet with P.F. Sloan on 14 June 2014. Webb invited her to perform the song at Live at MacArthur Park, Los Angeles on 15 June 2013.[33] Webb then invited Rumer to record, Still Within The Sound of My Voice, (written by Jimmy Webb) which was the title track on Webb's album, Still Within the Sound of My Voice which included other guest performances by Keith Urban, Carly Simon, among others, released later in 2013.

2014–2015: Into Colour, B Sides & Rarities and Love is the Answer[edit]

Rumer released her second album of all original material, and her third total studio album, Into Colour on 10 November 2014 in the UK, Ireland and Japan, peaking at #12 on the UK Charts.[34] The record was then released worldwide in early 2015 by Atlantic Records. The first song to be released from the album was "Dangerous", which takes Rumer in a more disco direction. The song was made available on her SoundCloud page in September 2014.[35]

In 2015, Rumer released a collection of unreleased tracks and B-sides from her back catalog entitled, B Sides & Rarities. The collection features collaborations with the likes of Dionne Warwick, Stephen Bishop and Michael Feinstein.[36]

On 11 December 2015, Rumer released a four-track EP entitled Love is the Answer.

2016–2019: This Girl's in Love (A Bacharach & David Songbook)[edit]

Rumer's fourth album, released under the East West Records label, features Rumer's take on select tracks from the songbook of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It was released on 25 November 2016. Rumer remarked about how this album "was one she couldn't have made five years ago" and that how she felt that she had the right "emotional palette" to draw on the songs she recorded. It was produced by her husband and producer Rob Shirakbari at Capitol Studios in early 2016. In October, Rumer played her first London gig in over 2 years at London's Cadogan Hall.[37]

Rumer contributed to Trevor Horn's album Reimagines the Eighties, released in January 2019.

2020: Nashville Tears (The Songs of Hugh Prestwood)[edit]

Rumer released her fifth studio album, and her third album of covers, Nashville Tears (The Songs of Hugh Prestwood), on 14 August 2020. The album, which originally was scheduled for a May 2020 release, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[38] Nashville Tears includes covers of songs from singer-songwriter Hugh Prestwood. "Creating this album was the beginning of a joyful time in my life," Rumer explained about the record. "I was listening to Hugh Prestwood's catalog all day and doing the dishes and walking the dog and taking care of my baby. It was a wonderful time....with this record, through Hugh Prestwood's words, I wanted to create a piece of work that would, to me be like a tapestry of America how I felt it and saw it, and I feel like I did just that."[39]

Television and radio appearances[edit]

In September 2010, Rumer performed three songs on Later with Jools Holland.[14] She performed with British jazz singer Jamie Cullum in the 2010 Royal Variety Performance.[40] Also in 2010, Elton John invited Rumer to be his special guest at his BBC Electric Proms concert.[14]

On 9 May 2012, Rumer performed at the White House in a tribute concert honouring the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, singing the Bacharach-David song "A House Is Not a Home". She also participated in the finale, "What the World Needs Now Is Love". The concert, Burt Bacharach & Hal David: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in Performance at the White House, was broadcast on PBS on 21 May 2012.[41]

On 15 August 2012, Rumer appeared on episode #57 of Daryl Hall's webcast 'Live From Daryl's House' where they performed 'Sara Smile' together as well as other songs including 'Take Me As I Am' and 'I Can't Go For That'.

Rumer and her husband Rob Shirakbari recorded two songs for the BBC's Radio 2 from their home in Macon, Georgia while self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic. The two live songs "Hard Times for Lovers" and "Aretha" were aired on Ken Bruce the morning of 5 May 2020 along with an interview.[42]

Personal life[edit]

In 2010, Rumer began a relationship with Sam Winwood, the son of English songwriter, former member of the Spencer Davis Group and record producer Muff Winwood. The two separated the following year.[43]

Rumer began dating Rob Shirakbari, Burt Bacharach's former musical director, whom she met after moving to Los Angeles following the release of Boys Don't Cry. The pair moved to Shirakbari's home state of Arkansas, and married there in 2015. In an interview she gave to The Independent, she said the pressures brought about by the music industry after releasing her debut album led her to being diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. She also said in the same interview that she had a miscarriage.[44]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 2011: Nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Breakthrough Act and Best British Female Solo Artist[45]
  • 2011: Nominated for the UK Asian Music Award for Best Alternative Act and Best Newcomer[46]
  • 2011: Won the UK Asian Music Award for Best Alternative Act[47]
  • 2011: Nominated for the MOJO Award for Best Breakthrough Act, Best Album with "Seasons of my Soul" and Song of the Year with "Slow"[48]
  • 2011: Won the MOJO Award for Best Breakthrough Act[49]


Studio albums[edit]

Album Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales Certifications
(sales threshold)
Seasons of My Soul
  • Released: 1 November 2010
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Formats: CD, LP, download
3 35 6 11 34 7 6 10 2 13 15 46
  • UK: 529,238
Boys Don't Cry
  • Released: 28 May 2012
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Formats: CD, LP, download
3 63 42 54 8 22 30
  • UK: 100,000+
Into Colour
  • Released: 10 November 2014
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Formats: CD, LP, download
12 40 67 42 33 80
This Girl's in Love (A Bacharach & David Songbook)[62]
  • Released: 25 November 2016
  • Label: East West, Warner
  • Formats: CD, LP, download
28 87 100 66
Nashville Tears (The Songs of Hugh Prestwood)
  • Released: 14 August 2020
  • Label: Cooking Vinyl
  • Formats: CD, LP, Cassette, download

Extended plays[edit]

EP Title EP Details Peak chart positions
Rumer Sings Bacharach at Christmas
  • Released: 10 December 2010
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Formats: CD, 7" vinyl, Digital download
iTunes Festival: London 2011
  • Released: 20 July 2011
  • Label: Warner Music
  • Formats: Digital download
Into Colour EP
  • Released: 6 October 2014
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Formats: CD, Digital download
Love Is The Answer
  • Released: 11 December 2015
  • Label: Night Owl Music Ltd
  • Formats: CD, Digital download


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
2007 "Remember (Christmas)"[64] Non-album single
2010 "Slow" 16 58 41 33 61 Seasons of My Soul
"Aretha" 72 47
2011 "Am I Forgiven" 78 59
"I Believe in You"[65] Non-album single
"I Wanna Roo You"[66] 135
2012 "P.F. Sloan" 73 Boys Don't Cry
"Sara Smile" 97
2014 "Dangerous" Into Colour
"Reach Out"
2016 "Balance of Nature" This Girl's in Love (A Bacharach & David Songbook)

Radio singles[edit]

Year Single Album
2011 "Goodbye Girl"[67] Seasons of My Soul
"Take Me As I Am"[68]


Year Song Reference
2010 "Slow" [69]
"Aretha" [70]
"Alfie" [71]
2011 "Slow" (International Version) [72]
"Am I Forgiven" (Directors Cut) [73]
"Am I Forgiven" [74]
"Goodbye Girl" [75]
"Slow" (US version) [76]
2012 "P.F. Sloan" [77]
"Sara Smile" [78]

Other appearances[edit]


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  17. ^ "I See Stars – Record Collector Magazine".
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  19. ^ "A Very Magistery Valentine: Various Artists: MP3 Downloads". Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  20. ^ "Coffee and Honey". 1 April 2010. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
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  28. ^ "Composer John Barry remembered at memorial concert". BBC. 21 June 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
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  32. ^ "Second Cup Cafe: Jimmy Webb".
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  35. ^ Listen to Rumer's new song Dangerous, The Guardian. 22 September 2014.
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  38. ^ "RUMER'S Album, NASHVILLE TEARS, Moved to August 14". Broadway World Music. 31 March 2020. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  39. ^ Despres, Tricia (14 August 2020). "Rumer Adds Her Stunning Vocal Ability to the Works of Legendary Songwriter Hugh Prestwood". American Songwriter.
  40. ^ "Kylie, Susan Boyle, Adele, Jamie Cullum, Rumer, Paloma Faith and Ray Davies join line-up for Royal Variety Performance 2010". BBC. 1 December 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  41. ^ "Hal David, Burt Bacharach honored in D.C. with Gershwin Prize". 9 May 2012.
  42. ^ "Ken Bruce: Bette Midler chooses the Tracks of My Years and live music from Rumer".
  43. ^ Corr, Alan (12 July 2011). "Rumer has it". RTÉ.ie. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
  44. ^ Rumer's New Album: Her debut caused her post-traumatic stress – how will she cope as she releases her third record?, The Independent. 21 September 2014.
  45. ^ "Brit Awards 2011". Brit Awards.
  46. ^ "The Lebara Mobile UK Asian Music Awards 2011... and the nominees are..." 2 February 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  47. ^ Jas Sembhi (10 March 2011). "2011 UK Asian Music Awards Winners". Retrieved 13 March 2011.
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  61. ^ "The Irish Charts". 1 October 1962. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
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  63. ^ "IRMA – Irish Charts".
  64. ^ "CD Single: Rumer – Remember (Christmas) (Radio Edit) (2007)".
  65. ^ "I Believe in You".
  66. ^ "I Wanna Roo You". 12 December 2011.
  67. ^ "Partisan PR – Rumer releases 'Goodbye Girl', and sells out UK tour". Archived from the original on 12 November 2011.
  68. ^ "Gigs And Tours News".
  69. ^ "Rumer – 'Slow' – Music Video". YouTube. 28 July 2010. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  70. ^ "Rumer – 'Aretha' – Music Video". YouTube. 6 October 2010. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  71. ^ "Rumer – 'Alfie' (From 'Rumer Sings Bacharach at Christmas') – Music Video". YouTube. 23 November 2010. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  72. ^ "Rumer – 'Slow' (International Version) – Music Video". YouTube. 8 February 2011. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  73. ^ "Rumer – 'Am I Forgiven' (Directors Cut) – Music Video". YouTube. 10 February 2011. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  74. ^ "Rumer – 'Am I Forgiven' – Music Video". YouTube. 11 February 2011. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  75. ^ "Rumer – 'Goodbye Girl' – Music Video". YouTube. 31 March 2011. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  76. ^ "Rumer – 'Slow' (U.S. Version) – Music Video". YouTube. 16 September 2011. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  77. ^ "Rumer – 'P.F. Sloan' – Music Video". YouTube. 22 May 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.[dead YouTube link]
  78. ^ "Rumer – 'Sara Smile' – Music Video". YouTube. 22 May 2012. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2012.

External links[edit]