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Born in Essex but brought up in Wiltshire, Cullum was raised in a close-knit and musical family.
His mother was a school secretary and his father worked for a business that supplied company cars.
I was eight years into a really pretty full-on musical career.” But he acknowledges his debt to the talk-show host. He was able to put me in front of mainstream Britain, which was a big privilege and that was his choice.” Cullum’s love of jazz stems from the fact it “takes a real mixture of musicianship and the crazy part of your personality”. “You don’t have to look, you can keep your eyes closed the whole time and know whether it’s connecting,” he says.
“That’s the really amazing thing about it – it’s definitely a chemical thing.
We could sit around chatting for ages and drink a million cups of tea, we both had a small group of very close friends from childhood, we’re both passionate about a handful of things.” When they became a couple they kept a low profile. We went to my local pub a lot, we would have dinner at my house.” But then, inevitably, after they stepped out together at an awards ceremony, the media took an interest. It felt a bit untrue to who we were but, at the same time, you just have to accept it.” The pair married in early 2010 and now live in Buckinghamshire with their two young daughters.
Balancing work and home commitments has been the hardest challenge Cullum’s faced, but fatherhood is the happiest part of his life.
After coming to national attention on Parkinson in 2003, he’s now sold more than 10 million albums and sung to audiences around the world, and yet is clearly still in love with what he has done for a living in more than decade.
Cullum may be instantly recognisable and married to supermodel-turned-author Sophie Dahl, but staying grounded isn’t something he finds difficult.
Being small - Cullum is probably no more than about 5ft 6ins – turns out not to have been a big deal for him. We both read a lot, we had similar rhythms to our lives.He only became a “big success” when Cullum was in his late teens.“It wasn’t a wealthy upbringing but it was very wealthy in terms of support and encouragement. ‘‘My dad was born in Jerusalem; his mother managed to get out of Nazi Germany.I was doing four, five a week.” At 23, Cullum was becoming known in jazz circles and was spoken about to Michael Parkinson, who invited him on to his television show.“By the time I was on Parkinson, I’d logged hundreds and hundreds of gigs in all sorts of different styles and although I wasn’t used to being on television, I knew I could sit there and put the song over.
Jamie Cullum admits he’s not the greatest piano player. ‘‘And I don’t look like Justin Timberlake, but I think I can communicate on stage.” He has a point.