Jamie Cullum: My family values

Interview from the Guardian

My grandmother, Irma, escaped Nazi Germany. She was studying in Prussia and working towards becoming a doctor, but that was cut short when she had to leave. She lost all her family in the Holocaust and ended up in Jerusalem where she met my grandfather, Harry. They had my auntie and my dad and then came over to the UK and started their family life.

My grandfather, Harry, died when my dad was in his early 20s, so I never met him. Amazingly, he was 6ft tall. That gene definitely never filtered down to me! Irma was this incredible, sparky lady. She was always interestingly dressed, with immaculate hair and nails and gold shoes. And she was an utterly voracious reader.

My brother, Ben, and I are both musicians and Irma encouraged our interest in music. Growing up, I just wanted to be like Ben. He picked up the electric guitar – so did I. He played the piano – so did I. He got interested in DJ-ing – so did I. He got interested in recording songs – so did I. I idolised him and he always showed me the way. He plays the bass and sings, and writes with me for my albums and for other people. He has a very successful career in his own right.

Mum came over from Burma, aged four, when Japan invaded. There were four of them, my grandmother Hazel, grandfather Leonard, my mum and my uncle. They left everything behind and had one trunk of possessions. Because my grandfather had worked with the British army as an engineer in Burma, he had the option of coming to the UK. It was very alien for them; they were a dark-skinned family dumped in a very white village in Wales. I’ve got an amazing photograph of them a few days off the boat, immaculately dressed, standing in Trafalgar Square looking a bit confused.

Continue reading in full at the Guardian

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