Published: Apr 11, 2011
It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock ‘n’ roll.
This holds true for other music genres, as students learned when British singer Rumer and members of her band visited LIPA this month to give a masterclass.
Jazz and soul artist Rumer, whose 2010 debut album Seasons of my Soul went double platinum, spent over an hour talking about music, life and the industry. Her professional backing singers Annabel Williams and Susan Harriott , who reflected on their own experiences on the road to commercial success, accompanied her.
Often compared to Karen Carpenter, Rumer ran through her early days as a retail assistant who wrote her own songs and performed them in pubs and other grass roots venues in her free time. She spent 10 dues-paying years before she got her break.
On her craft, she commented: “I liked writing poetry and I liked to play guitar, so I put the two together. I was not very good at first. I just kept on going and improving then went out into the local scene and gained confidence. I developed this awareness that I wanted to record songs, I wanted to perform.”
Today championed by artists such as Jules Holland and Sir Elton John, Rumer, who is touring Europe this summer and due to play the main stage at Glastonbury, talked about going to Burt Bacharach’s house, being likened to Carpenter, and the chance meeting with Steve Brown, the man who would become her producer.
She reflected: “Being compared to Karen Carpenter is like being compared to Angelina Jolie just because you have brown hair. I do enjoy talking about her and I hope that I remind people to get that record or CD out and to play it and remember her. It’s nice to remind people of somebody great.”
Questions raised by LIPA Lecturer Tim Pike, who interviewed the trio in the Paul McCartney Auditorium before an audience of students and staff, covered areas such as PR, management, collaboration and artistic freedom.
On the subject of label input, Rumer, said: “It’s important that anything that has my name or face on it comes from my heart and has less of the corporate machine in it.”
Susan and Annabel talked about how they have developed and sustained their music careers and the pros and cons of following the ‘X-Factor’ route to commercial success, among other topics.
“We feel so blessed but we have worked really hard for this,” said Susan who, like Annabel, works as a singing teacher when not on tour.
Pictured, from the left, Rumer, Annabel Williams, Tim Pike and Susan Harriott