Tuesday 18 February 2020

Interview with Jamie Cullum

Discussing his role as artistic curator at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, trying to be a good dad and his upcoming performance for President Obama, SoGlos chats to acclaimed pianist, Jamie Cullum, in an exclusive interview.

With a Grammy, two Golden Globes, two GQ Man of the Year awards and many, many more, Jamie Cullum is, without doubt, one of the most successful jazz artists in the world.

As the artistic curator for the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Jamie is set to headline the Big Top on Monday 2 May 2016, with festival-goers flocking from far and wide to catch his famous piano skills.

SoGlos chats to Jamie about the festival, his busy summer plans, and his exciting upcoming performance at the White House in this exclusive interview.

Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Are you looking forward to Cheltenham Jazz Festival?

Absolutely, it’s a highlight of my year. The great part about Cheltenham Jazz Festival is that I get some leadership over what the festival has to offer. So alongside performing there, I can shine the spotlight on some of my favourite artists.

And what is your role as artistic curator?

I work with the organisers at an early stage of the festival and come up with a sort of fantasy festival. So I think of some dream ideas and what would be ideal and go from there.

What can audiences expect from this year’s festival?

There will be some enormous established acts at the festival, such as Guy Garvey and Lianne La Havas, as well as some lesser known acts like Mulatu Astatke. It’s something that Cheltenham does really well; it gets the balance of big names and up-and-coming talent just right.

I think this year’s line-up is the strongest so far and it’s a real testament to the organisers.

What can audiences expect from your show?

I’ll be doing something quite straight this year that I haven’t done before, and that will be sort of a greatest hits show! I’ll be playing something from every album.


I’ll be flying straight to Cheltenham from America, after playing for Barack Obama.


What’s your favourite part about the festival?

It’s always a good time, and it’s a lovely open space, so even if the weather is bad, there’s something going on everywhere.

I love how people might be drawn in to see a big act and while they’re there, they can discover a brand new act.

Will you get time to see any acts while you’re here?

Absolutely, I’ll be around. I’ll be seeing lots of people, like José James, Guy Garvey and Mulatu Astatke, to name a few.

I heard that you will be performing at the White House on International Jazz Day, how are you feeling about this?

Yes, I’ll be flying straight to Cheltenham from America, after playing for Barack Obama. I’m obviously very, very excited! It’s everyone’s biggest gig. To perform to a world leader is just a real honour and a huge deal.

I imagine this will be quite a highlight, but do any other moments throughout your career stand out?

Probably playing at Glastonbury for the first time. I’m from the area so I had been going to Glastonbury since I was a teen; it was just part of my life. So, to play there was huge.

Do you have any other upcoming festivals in the UK and Gloucestershire?

I’ll be performing at Cornbury Festival for the first time this year, so I’m looking forward to that. And I’ll also be at the Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza.

Are you working on anything at the moment?

Yes, I’m actually working on a new album, which will be an original album of songs I’ve written myself.

Sounds like quite a busy summer, will you get much time to relax?

It sounds quite crazy, but I’ll get time off between gigs, and I’ll be going on a summer holiday, just like everyone else.

What do you do when you’re not making music?

I’ve got two little girls, aged three and five, so I mainly just play with my kids in my spare time and try to be a good dad.

Are they a fan of your music?

Hmm, they’re at that age where they’re just into everything right now. Maybe one day!

And lastly, will you get to see much of Cheltenham while you’re here?

Oh yes, I know Cheltenham very well and have a lot of friends here that I’ll be staying with, so I’ll be out and about.


By Alice Lloyd


The Cheltenham Jazz Festival takes place from Wednesday 27 April to Monday 2 May 2016. For more information, see Cheltenham Jazz Festival, call (01242) 850270 or visit cheltenhamfestivals.com/jazz directly.

© SoGlos
Friday 22 April 2016

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