December 19, 2020
The musician, 41, on what he owes Michael Parkinson, the joys of cultural freedom and why he’ll feel nervous when he’s finally able to perform again
Jamie Cullum: ‘I channel a lot of emotional intensity into my music
Growing up in a very provincial village near Swindon, in Wiltshire, I struggled to articulate why my family was different. My parents were immigrants. They had it drilled into them to be as British as possible, live a very British life, observe the Britishness of their existence. I think they were culturally cauterised. A mixture of people came in and out of my household from my father’s Prussian Jewish contingent, who for a large part of their UK life were often too frightened to have a German accent or observe their Jewish faith, and my mother’s Indian Burmese contingent, where everyone had darker skin and ate different foods.
I didn’t feel that different. I just thought I had a bit of a tan, and that everyone’s aunties brought them lime pickle for Christmas. My parents were dealing with being first-generation immigrants in this country. I had way more cultural freedom than them, but felt less able to acknowledge my heritage when I was younger.
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