Rumer Spreads To The Top
No matter how it is spelled, rumors spread like wildfire when people are excited. The idiom is proven in the case of Britain recording artist Rumer, whose success is being fueled by some pretty hefty big-wigs in the industry, not to mention her much-admired hit singles "Slow" and "Aretha."
The songs appear on Seasons Of My Soul and mark her Atlantic Records label debut. A platinum-certified popular success upon its release in the United Kingdom last fall, the album went on and proved to be an international sensation, reaching the top 10 in Belgium, Norway, Ireland, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
With her fan base already established, Rumer is gaining momentum as she makes her way across the Atlantic. In preparation of Seasons Of My Soul being dropped stateside the last week of January, her melodic voice and vibrant spirit surely sparked the attention of those who caught her in-depth profile appearance on CBS Sunday Morning. Rumer immediately shot to the top. Seasons Of My Soul landed the No. 1 spot on iTunes Overall Albums Chart and No. 3 on Amazon.
The Rage Monthly was privileged to catch the European songstress-whom New York Daily News named as one of the "Best Live Shows" in its "Best of 2011" round-up-between rehearsals for her U.S. headline tour that kicked off last month.
Rumer shed light on what’s been a long and winding road to success for the young artist whose unique upbringing gives way to a well-seasoned soul-a soul that burns its reflection in her music and ignited by the Torch Songs of Judy Garland.
"I became obsessed with Judy Garland at the age of 4 or 5," Rumer says, claiming it’s the music of Garland that’s most influential in her own musical career. "Not just Judy Garland, but all the writers of her songs. They were all just fantastic writers-Johnny Mercer, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern-of all those great American melodies and really dreamy songs that try to help people escape their depression,"she explains. Although she’s not quite certain why so many gay people grow up to like Judy Garland."I assume it’s in part from growing up and feeling different. I grew up feeling different too," humbly she adds, it’s contributed to who she is as a person and a musician.
The youngest of seven children, Rumer spent her very early years in Pakistan, where she was born. Her father was the chief-engineer involved in the construction of the enormous Tarbela Dam, 30 miles to the northwest of Islamabad. The family found themselves living in an expat colony, with no TV or newspapers-an enclosed community where the kids would run wild, and the adults would play bridge, golf and engage in the occasional spot of amateur dramatics.
This closed, though oddly liberating, atmosphere also provided Rumer with her first taste of music, which is highly influenced by the ’60s and ’70s, an influence heard in her songs "Slow" and "Come To Me High," which reflect the folk sounds of time. However, the impact that occurred during the popular culture movements of those eras is not something the artist born in 1979 much experienced firsthand-a fact she says is made even more interesting considering that neither did her parents.
"Since my parents continually moved from outpost to outpost until 1984, my entire family basically missed the ’60s and the ’70s," Rumer explains, noting she grew up with a family atmosphere described as being "1950s conservative" and "old fashioned."
So how did she gain such influence?
As the family lived what seemed like a charmed existence in the sheltered community, Rumer’s musical roots were deeply nourished at a time she now looks upon as an idyllic."It was another worldly landscape," she recalls. "Our universe wasn’t defined by anything other than ourselves."
As for the music, well, it just came as second nature. "I don’t know how I gained much of my yearning to be drawn toward my music. I’m just the maker and the music simply finds me," she explains. The deeply ingrained tradition of music within her family that began as a child is a value that continues to thrive today.
"All of my brothers and sisters grew up playing the guitar, so there was a sort of natural folk atmosphere within my family," she explains. "It was perfectly normal to pick up a guitar and play or write a song, a poem or tell a story. That was just the normal part of experiencing everyday life,"Rumer says. "It doesn’t seem unusual-music as a way of communicating-it was like another language."
Also deeply embedded within her musical roots is spirituality, which goes hand in hand in her family.
"I come from a place where music is quite spiritual and for me in my head music is about prayer and being spiritual. Music was always our form of prayer and in large part faith and church."
The much-grounded musician says she hopes to connect with her fans on a much deeper level with Seasons Of My Soul, which she says is "a very open album." She invites fans to become friends with her on Facebook, where the busy singer enjoys keeping connected with friends and fans, who have helped her along her journey."There’s a real sense of community in a very genuine way, which is a fun and personal way to get feedback on the album,"she says.
The album maintains a connection itself to the several seasons of Rumer’s soul and musical roots, a fact that isn’t too hard to believe considering all the music and songs she wrote for the album were done on the very first guitar she received as a gift from her brother Rob as a child.
"I still got that thing and I love it. It’s the only one I play. I bought a very expensive guitar and I took it back to the shop, because I just never enjoyed playing it. I’d rather play on my $5 guitar,"she modestly admits.
Still, she credits one of sisters for being the most influential person in her musical taste. "She was the one who actually put me in front of the TV and said, ’Here watch this,’introducing me to Judy Garland. Later on she was passing me CDs and giving me great records saying, ’Here listen to this,’" Rumer explains. "While I don’t want to say that otherwise I was cheap, I did have a cheap streak," the European starlet goes further. "You know, I liked Madonna and a ton of R&B, such as Whitney Houston, whom I liked as well. My sister made me cool. I don’t feel I would be very cool if it wasn’t for her giving me a varied taste in music. Otherwise I would be just a big Madonna freak," Rumer quips, quickly clarifying it’s the ’80s she refers to as having a sense of tackiness and not the individual artists.
Although she speaks so confidently now, as surprising as it might sound when you hear Rumer’s voice, not to mention her music, success was not handed to Rumer on a plate. She has fought long and hard to get her break- ten years, to be precise. During that time she performed anywhere and everywhere she could, trying to meet anyone in the industry who would give her a chance, all the while essentially propping up South London’s job-count. "You have to be tough," she says. "I was constantly rejected, and I kept trying to improve. You see a lot of amazing musicians quit, because you have to sacrifice."
Rumer’s luck changed when she met award-winning TV and musical composer Steve Brown (It’s A Wonderful Life, Spend, Spend, Spend), who quickly became Rumer’s producer. Together, the two began to bring to life a set of songs that anyone with ears is destined to fall in love with.
"The first single ’Slow’ is a stop-what-you’re-doing torch song "about being obsessive in a new relationship. It’s a love song, but it’s unrequited love, and the chorus has that Greek chorus effect, advising me not to fall in love too fast," she explains. The instantly-classic soul of ’Aretha’, meanwhile, conveys, amongst other things, Rumer says, is the gratitude felt for artists who keep a person going through difficult times. "Everyone has his or her own Aretha. I can’t imagine my life without them,"she admits.
And who is one of Rumer’s Aretha’s? Interestingly enough, it’s someone others often compare her to-Karen Carpenter. "I love her. I just love talking about her. I simply love her name being mentioned, "the fresh upcoming artist excitedly says."She’s wonderful and was a wonderful person who had sadness and needed to express herself. She did through her music what she couldn’t really express in her life,"she notes, adding that she finds Carpenter’s voice incredibly moving.
"Sometimes when I listen to her voice I just want to cry. There’s such sadness and I wonder,’What is going on in there underneath it all?’"
Undoubtedly, after listening to the powerfully personal songs on Seasons Of My Soul Rumer’s fans are left wondering the same and hoping for the fire that burns deep inside this rising artist’s soul to continue to burn for many seasons to come.