Sarah Joyce has a platinum-selling album to her name, she has sang for President Obama at the White House, performed with Elton John at the Electric Proms and been invited to perform for Burt Bacharach at his home.

Not bad for a lass who used to snog boys in the Chinese Garden at Bitts Park, who scrambled over flood defences to paddle in the Eden and who ate chips and gravy from Robertsons in Carlisle city centre.

Sarah is better known as singer songwriter Rumer.

She spends her time between home in Arkansas with husband Rob Shirakbari, recording in Los Angeles and return trips to the UK.

She’s over here now, to promote her fourth and latest album, This Girl’s In Love: A Bacharach and David Songbook, and she’s more than happy to talk about her old hometown.

Even though she left it 20 years ago, the memories stored by young Sarah Joyce are still sharp.

According to the News & Star's records, the former Cardinal Newman pupil won a £20 HMV gift voucher in the school’s annual talent show in 1994.

“Nooo! It was for £10!” she protests. “£20 would have been too much then. I probably bought an album or something, I remember I was chuffed.”

Open, chatty and jokey, talk about schooldays puts Sarah in a reflective mood.

She has admitted that fame and the attention that her stellar career has brought has been a struggle.

Now she wonders if she might have been happier as a teacher.

The pressures involved in releasing her debut album, Seasons of My Soul, led her to being diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder that she traces back to her childhood.

She was born in and spent her early childhood in Pakistan, where her engineer father was working on a dam.

The youngest of seven, when she returned to the UK, she discovered that her biological father was a Pakistani man who’d been the family cook.

When she travelled back to Pakistan to trace him years later, she discovered that he had died just three months before.

Her mother – who split from her engineer husband Jim – remarried and settled in the New Forest. She died of breast cancer in 2003.

Rumer came to Carlisle as an 11-year-old because her older sister Kathy wanted to be a nurse and her dad found that Carlisle had the best nursing college in the country.

She had been bullied and was feeling low when she moved north, but Newman was a warm and welcoming school.

Reliving her time in the north, she wonders what might have happened if she had stayed in the north, rather than return south, go to Dartington College of Arts and follow her dream of making music.

“It was a really good school with a really mixed bunch of people,” recalls Sarah.

“It was not the most academic school in the world, but it was generally fun and the teachers had good quirks and a good sense of humour. I liked singing and it was something I thought I could pursue.

“I would not recommend it to anyone else. These days it is definitely too hard.

“You need to get enough experience to be prepared for the pressure of the business. I’m glad I did it, but I wish I knew then what I know now.

“I don’t know if I would do it again.

“Many people who went to my school became teachers because the teachers were so much fun and they left a good impression on everyone.

“I would probably join them and become a teacher as well.”

The 37-year-old doesn’t want to seem resentful about her fame, it’s just that this thoughtful star doesn’t like the attention.

“I don’t want any more ambition. I’ve had enough achievement for one lifetime,” she reasons. “I just want to make music, share it and hope people enjoy it and keep it on the low.

“I’m really grateful for where I’m at and the people who have supported me this far. I always think about them.

“I want to make beautiful music so they would pleased and happy.

“I don’t want more and more fans. I’m just grateful for the ones I have. I just want to impress them.”

That low-key approach is reflected in her home life. She lives in rural Arkansas with Rob. The pair married last year after first meeting at a Dionne Warwick gala at the Royal Albert Hall where Rumer was to sing a duet of Bacharach and Hal David’s Hasbrook Heights.

They shared a common love: Rob, 52, worked for 25 years with Bacharach as musical director and for 30 years with Dionne Warwick.

Sarah says they live in a retirement town.

“I like the quiet, the trees and nature. Rob has a mum. I’ve not got a mum anymore and I like that she’s there,” she explains

She’s promoting her new album which salutes the work of composer Bacharach and lyricist Hal David.

While she loves the music of her famous admirer, she says singing other people’s songs requires her to ‘act’ more and be more mannered.

And despite critics and fans across the world raving about her voice which has been compared to greats such as Karen Carpenter and Dusty Springfield, she also realises she will be compared to the all-time greats like Warwick, Dusty Springfield and others who have sung Bacharach/David numbers.

She says: “They are the biggest legends and icons.

“It is a huge challenge because you can’t shy away from that.”

While Sarah is promoting that album, she is already working on the next which will be a collection of her own songs.

“It is going to be much more simple, we’re taking away all the strings and bells and whistles.

“It is going to be more acoustic and more like a singer-songwriter. How I began, really.”

All a far cry from that White House date in 2012.

“That was something else. “The nerves were unbelievable,” she remembers. Sheryl Crowe was so calm, cool and relaxed. I don’t ever want to be that nervous again.”

Her anxiety wasn’t helped by the fact that she had a raging cold at the time and couldn’t smell or taste or hear.

“The whole of the build-up to that gig I spent in the steam room of the hotel.

“I had to ditch a wonderful tour of the Library of Congress because I had to try and clear my ears.”

The new album is released on October 21 and her only live show in the UK is in London on Monday – her first in two years. There are no plans for her to return to Carlisle in the near future, but she hasn’t ruled it out: “I wish I had an excuse to come up. Is Robertsons still there?

“Do they still do chips and gravy? That would make it worthwhile.”