created over 4 years ago | Tagged:
Cullum was born at Romford Hospital in Essex, and educated at the independent fee-paying Grittleton House School and the sixth form at Sheldon School. Both are near Chippenham in Wiltshire. 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 a British Army officer, while his paternal grandmother was a Jewish refugee from Prussia who sang in Berlin nightclubs; Cullum has said that he sees her as his "cultural icon". He was brought up in Hullavington, Wiltshire but currently lives in North West London.
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 the University of Reading in 2001, Cullum released a best-selling album, Pointless Nostalgic, which stirred interest from Michael Parkinson and Melvyn Bragg. (Cullum made his first television appearance on Parkinson's BBC chat show and was the last musician to perform on the Michael Parkinson Show 'Final Conversation' recorded on 26th November and broadcast on 16th December 2007.) In April 2003, Cullum signed a contract for three albums with Universal, who beat Sony in a bidding war. Cullum's third album, Twentysomething, released in October 2003, went platinum and became the #1 selling studio album by a jazz artist in the United Kingdom. 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 a very 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 have collaborated extensively. Jamie Cullum is well known not only for his abilities on the piano, but also for his unique entertainment style and charisma. One of the many things that features in Jamie's concerts is the "stompbox" (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. Jamie found this in 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 is also often found beatboxing at nearly every gig. As well as White Stripes and Kanye West, Cullum has performed work by Massive Attack, Pussycat Dolls, Radiohead, Gnarls Barkley, Elton John, Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Joy Division and many others. Cullum rarely 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 2004, Coachella 2005, 2006 South by Southwest, North Sea Jazz Festival and the 2006 Playboy Jazz Festival. On the April 29, 2006, Cullum played his biggest ever crowd on Queensday in The Netherlands. On August 20th, 2008, Jamie celebrated his 29th Birthday (his last as a “Twentysomething”) at the Hollywood Bowl, performing with the Count Basie Orchestra.
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 prestigious Grammy award and, in the same year, went on to win yet another award at the BBC Jazz Awards, this time scooping BBC Radio 2 "Artist Of The Year", 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".