From The Daily Mail:
Early childhood memories are often fleeting and fragmented, but one of Sarah Joyce’s
first recollections offers an illuminating insight into the woman she would become. The 31-year-old singer-songwriter who performs as Rumer – hailed by Burt Bacharach, Carly Simon and Elton John as a major new talent – was born into a British family living near Islamabad in Pakistan, where her father was the chief engineer on the Tarbela Dam project. The youngest of seven children, she remembers standing in a room in the family home trying to be heard over the noise of her siblings. ‘I remember feeling physically very small and looking up at all these tall people and wondering how I could get their attention. So I decided to do impressions of Judy Garland and they would all fall about laughing, and I thought, “Great, I can get attention if I sing.” My singing was attention-seeking initially and then I realised – by accident – that I was quite good at it.’ It has taken Sarah – whose debut album Seasons of my Soul has received rapturous reviews – a long time to turn that childhood promise into adult reality. She’s been a receptionist, a cleaner and worked in a coffee shop (making ‘a good half a million cappuccinos’) while waiting ten long years for her break. But it isn’t just the depth and timbre of her voice (there have been comparisons with Karen Carpenter) that has made the record industry take notice. It is also her songs, inspired by a life story that is as compelling and moving as her music.
Her early childhood, happily entrenched in the expat community of Islamabad, was to be short-lived. When she was four, the family returned to Britain and shortly afterwards her parents’ marriage broke up. It wasn’t until she was 11 that she discovered the reason for the split, when her mother, by then remarried, informed her – ‘as if she were throwing a hand grenade into my life’ – that her father was not Jim Joyce, the man who had raised her, but the family’s Pakistani cook. ‘Before then there had been no doubts about my parentage. I was just obviously darker than the rest of my family. My siblings were blonde, and I was this dark-haired, dark-eyed girl, and I used to cry about it. I used to say, “I want to have blonde hair and blue eyes”, and one of my older sisters would say, “When I was a little girl I used to want brown hair and brown eyes” – but I knew that was rubbish,’ she says.