Cullum was born in Rochford, Essex. He was brought up in Hullavington, Wiltshire.His mother, Yvonne, is a secretary of Anglo-Burmese origin, whose family settled in North England after Burma's independence; his father, John Cullum, worked in finance. His paternal grandfather was a British Army officer, while his paternal grandmother was a Jewish refugee from Prussia who sang in Berlin nightclubs.
Cullum was educated at Grittleton House School, an independent school in the village of Grittleton, near the market town of Chippenham in Wiltshire, followed by the sixth form of Sheldon School, a state comprehensive school in the same county. 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
.After graduating from Reading University, Cullum released his best-selling album, Pointless Nostalgic
, which stirred interest from Michael Parkinson and Melvyn Bragg.Just after Cullum made his first television appearance, on Parkinson
in April 2003, he signed a £1m contract 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.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 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.Cullum is well known not only for his abilities on the piano, but also for his style and charisma. 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, Pharell, Rihanna, Pussycat Dolls, Radiohead, Gnarls Barkley, Elton John, Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Joy Division, Lady Gaga and many others. He has also performed with Kylie Minogue, Sugababes, will.i.am, Burt Bacharach and The Heritage Orchestra.Cullum never works to a set list and on average his gigs last just over two hours. The gigs are largely improvised, rooted in jazz but not solely consisting of jazz music.Cullum has played at many large music festivals, including 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 and the 2007 Jakarta International Java 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.
Pointless NostalgicPointless Nostalgic
began life as a self-funded project and eventually got taken on by Candid Records, 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.On the album, Cullum created covers of old classics with new arrangements of Warren and Burke's 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
.Due to the acoustic nature of the music, producer Stewart Levine chose to record and mix Twentysomething
entirely on analogue tape. Since the album was recorded almost entirely "live" with no need to correct or improve performances, Levine saw no need for the infinite amount of tracks and computerised digital recording.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".
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.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 toured in support of Catching Tales
from the end of October 2005 to December 2006.
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, 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.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) 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 latest 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.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.Cullum approached this record in a completely different way to his previous LPs, for the first time using DIY home demos as a blueprint for the majority of its tracks. He used everything from iPhone apps to charity shop keyboards and cassette recorders as his 'go-to' instruments during the process.
The British Jazz Awards first recognised Cullum's growing success by awarding him the "Rising Star" award, at the 2003 ceremony in July. 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.
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, song writers 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, Sir Michael Parkinson, M People's Heather Small and other music critics. The winning act was Offbeat South, an urban group of 18-21 year olds from Croydon. The other finalists were Andy Lewis, Elle Watson, Palms 13 and The Yesberger Band.
Cullum married British food critic and former model Sophie Dahl in a private ceremony in England on 9 January 2010. The two now reside in the town 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. Their daughter, Lyra, was born on 2 March 2011. Their second daughter, Margot, was born on 4 March 2013.In 2011, a portrait of Cullum was painted by British artist Joe Simpson (artist), the painting was exhibited around the UK including a solo exhibition at The Royal Albert Hall.He was the subject of BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs
on 25 March 2012.