Jamie Cullum

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Person playing the piano on stage.
Jamie Cullum on stage in Vienna in January 2006.

Jamie Cullum (born 20 August 1979) is a best-selling British pianist and singer with a raspy voice who plays "jazz-induced music" with "addictive arrangements".[1] While his primary instrument is the piano, he also plays guitar, drums, and is a singer-songwriter with a passion for re-interpreting classics and standard songs. Although primarily his focus is on jazz, he performs in a wide range of styles and has been described as a "crossover" artist.

CBS News describes Cullum's 2009 album The Pursuit as a "warm drink that seeps into your soul".[1] He is the "David Beckham of jazz," according to the CBS News music critic.[1]

Whether he's covering songs from classic American singer/songwriter Cole Porter or fiery R&B star Rihanna, Cullum incorporates his playful spin while rocking out with his shaggy hair. Tapping into his musical genius, Cullum strips down complex arrangements to make them creatively simple, and breaths new life into older tunes.[1]

Cullum's 2004 album Twentysomething and his followup Catching Tales were so successful that Cullum was given the moniker Sinatra in Sneakers.[1] With boyish charm and self-deprecating humor, he's won over audiences.'[1] He specializes in "quick changes" featuring "the hyperkinetic energy of a 15-year-old skateboarder".[2] He's been known to jump on top of pianos, shakily.[2] He loves playing old and new standards as well as originals, particular pop and jazz and hybrids, even disco.[2] A music critic described one of his performances:

Mr. Cullum offered a shape-shifting potpourri defined more by his gregarious personality than by any overriding musical concept. His band, which included Chris Hill on bass, Brad Webb on drums, Tom Richards on saxophone and Rory Simmons on trumpet and guitar, underscored his image as a raucous cutup in arrangements that featured sharp blasts on the horns.[2]

He's an active performer:

He has just a touch of Sinatra in his voice, and he's all over the piano — under it, inside it, leaping off of it, always in motion, yet totally focused — there's joy in that contradiction.[3]

Cullum's Twentysomething sold 2.5 million copies in the first few months.[3] At one point, he took time off to be a disc jockey.[3] He released Catching Teens in 2005.[3] He alternates uptempo numbers with slow standards in The Pursuit.

People who have seen me play live and read things I've written will already know that I've got a very eclectic taste, but singing a song like 'What a Difference a Day Makes' — well, it is one of the hardest things you can do. -- Jamie Cullum.[3]

He's been compared as a mix between Billy Joel and Harry Connick, Jr..[2] His "reined-in volatility" infuses his singing with great emotion.[2]

Cullum loves classic standard songs and has been compared to artists such as Diana Krall and Norah Jones.[4] He discovered jazz after spending time in rock and hip-hop bands, said Cullum in 2004.[4] He credits his musical influences with many artists, including Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick, Jr., Elton John, Billy Joel, Ben Folds, Bob Dylan, and Kurt Cobain.[4] Cullum draws his inspiration from many different musicians and listens to an eclectic mix of music from Miles Davis[5] to Tom Waits and many more. He believes in touring.[4]

But it's funny how many people don't understand that when you interpret songs, you also feel as if you've written them in a way. If you don't feel that, you've probably failed.-- Jamie Cullum.[4]


Cullum was obsessed with music even as a child growing up in the United Kingdom.[3] He was brought up in Hullavington, Wiltshire, and educated at the independent fee-paying Grittleton House School. He studied English Literature and Film at Reading University and graduated with First Class Honours. His mother, Yvonne, is a secretary of Anglo-Burmese origin, whose family settled in Wales after Burma's independence; his father, John Cullum, worked in finance. His paternal grandfather was an officer in the British army, while his paternal grandmother was a Jewish refugee from Prussia who sang in Berlin nightclubs.

Cullum married TV show host Sophie Dahl privately in January 2010 "because it's ours and it's sacred and it didn't feel like anyone else's business."[6] Dahl has a BBC cookery show called The Delicious Miss Dahl and who describes herself as a "control freak" who "makes the bed while her husband is still in it."[6] Dahl was a former "big-girl" model and writer whose grandfather was the famous award-winning children's author Roald Dahl.[6][7]


The British Jazz Awards gave him a "Rising Star" award in 2003.[8] At the 2004 BRIT Awards, Cullum was nominated in the "British Breakthrough Act" category. He performed live in the ceremony at Earl's Court. In the 2005 BRIT Awards he was nominated for "Best Male Artist" and "Best Live Act". In 2005 he was nominated for a Grammy while taking BBC Radio 2 "Artist of the Year" honors at the BBC Jazz Awards. In 2007 Cullum won the Ronnie Scotts Jazz Award for "Best British Male". He was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song for "Gran Torino".


  • Heard It All Before 1999
  • Pointless Nostalgic 2002
  • Twentysomething 2003
  • Catching Tales 2005
  • The Pursuit 2009[9]


  • "Greatest Mistake" with John Oates on White People by Handsome Boy Modeling School
  • "Bittersweet" with Relax on Puppets Among Pirates
  • "Sky High" with James Kinney on MySpace (unreleased track)
  • "One For My Baby" with Toots Thielemans on One More For the Road
  • "To..." with Geoff Gascoyne on Songs of the Summer
  • "God Only Knows" with Geoff Gascoyne on Keep it to Yourself
  • "Love Won't Let Me Wait" with Geoff Gascoyne on Keep it to Yourself
  • "Sweet Insomnia" with Gwyneth Herbert on First Songs
  • "The Road Less Travelled" with Clare Teal on The Road Less Travelled
  • "You Can Do it Too" with Pharrell on In My Mind
  • "Intermission Music" with Beady Belle on Belvedere
  • "Superdude" with Skandouz on MySpace (unreleased track)
  • "Where is Your Heart At?", composed and written by Rufus Wainwright, on the soundtrack for the animated film, Meet the Robinsons. Also recorded, "Give Me the Simple Life" for this soundtrack.
  • "Grace is Gone", composed by Clint Eastwood, featured on the official soundtrack for the film Grace is Gone
  • "Home is Where it Hurts" with Camille on Music Hole
  • "Gran Torino" with Clint Eastwood on the Gran Torino OST
  • "Blame It On My Youth" with Count Basie Orchestra on Swinging, Singing, Playing
  • "“STOLEN MOMENTS” featuring Jamie Cullum" with Soil & "Pimp" Sessions on 6


  • Live at Blenheim Palace (2004)
  • Twentysomething DVD (2004) – with US DualDisc Edition of Twentysomething
  • Genius A Night For Ray Charles (2004) – Performs "Hallelujah, I Love Her So"
  • Get Your Way – DVD Single (2005)
  • The StratPack Live in Concert (2005) – Performs "Angel"
  • A Tribute to Brian Wilson (2005) – Performs "Sail on Sailor" with Fred Martin & The Levite Camp
  • Telling Tales (2005) – with Catching Tales Special Edition


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Melissa Castellanos. Second Cup Cafe: Jamie Cullum, CBS News, March 5, 2010. Retrieved on 2010-03-05.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Stephen Holden. The Piano Man Who Hops Atop His Instrument, The New York Times, June 21, 2009. Retrieved on 2010-03-05.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Becca Pulliam, JazzSet. Jamie Cullum On JazzSet, NPR Music, February 18, 2010. Retrieved on 2010-03-05. “As a child in the U.K., Jamie Cullum was obsessed with music from an early age, grew up with rock and pop and is now a student of jazz. He has just a touch of Sinatra in his voice, and he's all over the piano — under it, inside it, leaping off of it, always in motion, yet totally focused — there's joy in that contradiction.”
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Elysa Gardner. Jazzed about the classics, USA Today, 2004-05-31. Retrieved on 2010-03-05. “At all of 24, Jamie Cullum, like Diana Krall and Norah Jones before him, is being credited with making elements of traditional pop and jazz accessible and hip to a wider, younger audience. Already a star in his native England, the baby-faced singer/pianist recently released his American debut, Twentysomething, to enthusiastic reviews. The CD combines original tunes with Cullum's precocious versions of classics ranging from Cole Porter's I Get a Kick Out of You and Lerner and Loewe's I Could Have Danced All Night to Jimi Hendrix's Wind Cries Mary and Jeff Buckley's Lover, You Should've Come Over.”
  5. JAMIE CULLUM BIOGRAPHY. BBC Radio 2. Retrieved on 2009-02-23.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Chrissy Iley. Living Dahl, Times Online, March 7, 2010. Retrieved on 2010-03-05.
  7. Joyce Eng. Jamie Cullum and Sophie Dahl Get Married, TVGuide.com.
  8. Jamie Cullum jazzes up music scene. BBC News (2003-12-30). Retrieved on 2009-02-23.
  9. Sophie Dahl and Jamie Cullum to marry in country mansion wedding next summer. Telegraph (23 August 2009). Retrieved on 11 September 2009.