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Blessed with effortless, velvety smooth vocals, Pakistan-born British singer/songwriter Rumer is known for her orchestral pop that harks back to the early-'70s easy listening sounds of Karen Carpenter and Carole King. It's a style that helped take her first two albums, 2010's Seasons of My Soul and 2012's Boys Don't Cry, to the Top Five on the U.K. charts. Moving between original compositions and covers by her favorite songwriters, she has continued to develop her vintage-inspired sound, often collaborating with her husband, arranger/producer Rob Shirakbari, as on 2014's Into Colour and 2016's This Girl's in Love: A Bacharach and David Songbook. In 2020, she celebrated the songs of legendary country songwriter Hugh Prestwood with Nashville Tears and followed with the concert album Live from Lafayette. Born in 1979 to British parents living in Tarbela Dam, Rumer (real name Sarah Joyce) was the youngest of seven children, and spent her early years living in an expat community. Encouraged to make their own entertainment, she began writing songs with her brothers and sisters, and after moving to the U.K., developed a huge passion for musicals and, in particular, Judy Garland. After a stint at art college, she formed the short-lived indie folk band La Honda in 2000, but after the band split, she was forced to take on several odd jobs that included fixing iPods, teaching, and selling advertising space. Having moved to London to pursue her dreams of a solo career, she adopted a stage name inspired by the author Rumer Godden, and began performing in various clubs. At an open-mike night, she caught the eye of TV music composer Steve Brown, the house bandleader in Alan Partridge's Knowing Me, Knowing You, and the pair began work on her debut album. In 2010, she signed to Atlantic Records, supported Joshua Radin on his U.K. tour, and was personally invited by Burt Bacharach to sing for him at his California home. Her first single, "Slow," became one of the most requested tracks on Radio 2, and reached number 16 in the U.K. charts. The full-length album Seasons of My Soul was released in November of that same year. In 2011, she was nominated for several Brit Awards, and won a U.K. Asian Music Award for Best Alternative Act. She also recorded a song for the soundtrack to the film Johnny English Reborn, and in 2012, released her sophomore effort, the covers album Boys Don't Cry. Much like the '60s soft rock vibe of Seasons of My Soul, Boys Don't Cry featured Rumer's unique take on tunes by such artists as Isaac Hayes, Clifford T. Ward, Todd Rundgren, Townes Van Zandt, and others. In 2014, she returned with her third studio album, Into Colour, which featured production from Rob Shirakbari, a longtime associate of Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach. Following the release of the record, Rumer relocated to Shirakbari's home state of Arkansas, where the couple were married in 2015. The following year, she returned with her fourth studio LP, This Girl's in Love. Once again produced by Shirakbari, the album saw Rumer paying homage to Burt Bacharach and Hal David with reworkings of songs from their esteemed back catalog. In 2020, having left Warner Music for indie Cooking Vinyl, she tackled the back catalog of another esteemed singer/songwriter, country legend Hugh Prestwood, on the Fred Mollin-produced Nashville Tears. A companion concert album, Live from Lafayette, arrived in September 2021 and found Rumer performing tracks off Nashville Tears, alongside some of her favorites from her catalog.
© Matt Collar & Jon O'Brien /TiVo


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