KT Tunstall performing in February 2008.
|Birth name||Kate Victoria Tunstall|
|Born||23 June 1975|
|Origin||St Andrews, Scotland|
|Genres||Folk, Blues, Alternative rock, Pop|
|Instruments||Guitar, drums, flute, piano, vocals|
Kate Victoria Tunstall, better known as KT Tunstall (born 23 June 1975 in St Andrews, Scotland), is a singer-songwriter and guitarist . She broke into the public eye with a live solo performance of her song "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" on Later... with Jools Holland. She has enjoyed commercial and critical success since, picking up three nominations before winning a BRIT Award, and a Grammy Award nomination. She is also the recipient of an Ivor Novello Award.
KT Tunstall was born in St Andrews, Scotland on 23 June 1975 to a half Chinese and half Scottish mother, and an Irish father, and was adopted 18 days later by English parents. She has never met her biological father. Her adoptive father was employed as a physics lecturer at the University of St Andrews, and her adoptive mother was a school teacher. Tunstall's family also includes an older brother named Joe and a younger brother named Daniel. Her parents had no interest in music and owned no records—the only tape her father owned was a comedy recording by mathematician and musical satirist Tom Lehrer.
Tunstall grew up in St Andrews, a town in Fife, attending Lawhead Primary, but spending her last year of high school in New England at the Kent School, a selective prep school in Kent, Connecticut.
"After school, having learned the piano, flute, and guitar, she left her native St Andrews to take up a scholarship at Kent School in Connecticut, New England, where she formed her first band, The Happy Campers."
She spent time busking on Church Street in Burlington, Vermont, and at a commune in rural Vermont. Tunstall studied at the High School of Dundee in Dundee, Madras College in St Andrews, Kent School in Connecticut, and at Royal Holloway, University of London. She has said that: "...My earliest memories are Californian...", attributed to a sabbatical that her father took at UCLA in 1979.
Throughout her twenties, she played in indie bands including Elia Drew  and Tomoko, and focused on songwriting, as well as performing with members of the fledgling Fence Collective including work in the Skuobhie Dubh Orchestra with King Creosote, who recently supported her UK tour. She also lived with Gordon Anderson (The Beta Band and The Aliens), whom the song Funnyman, on the album Drastic Fantastic, is about. She toured with the Klezmer band Oi Va Voi, and guested on their album, Laughter Through Tears.
Her debut album, Eye to the Telescope, was released in late 2004. Tunstall's style of music varies from folk to pop. In Edinburgh and St Andrews, she played in a band called Red Light Stylus, which was regarded as one of the better bands to emerge from the limited Fife scene.
Tunstall's first appearance of note was a solo performance of her famed blues song "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" on Later... with Jools Holland. The performance was notable as she had only 24 hours to prepare after scheduled performer Nas cancelled. Her performance caught the eye of many viewers, although she had previously performed it on French television only some weeks before, upstaging more established acts such as The Cure, Embrace, and The Futureheads; she then went on to top the post-show poll on the website for that episode.
Shortly after the "Later" appearance, Eye to the Telescope was re-released and shot up the UK charts, eventually peaking at #3 (on its first release it had entered at #73); it was nominated for the 2005 Mercury Music Prize. It was released in the U.S. on 7 February 2006.
Tunstall's North American break came when American Idol contestant Katharine McPhee contacted her asking to use "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" as her choice for a Billboard-themed week. At the time, the song was #79 on the Billboard charts. Tunstall had not been shy with her opinions regarding shows like Idol saying "The major problem I have is that it's completely controlled... they're told what to say. They're told how to sing." She chose to license the song as she felt that "no one on that show told Katharine McPhee to sing my song because no one knew it" Tunstall's belief was correct—the song was suggested to McPhee by Billboard columnist and author Fred Bronson. The song immediately jumped to #23 on the Billboard charts the week following McPhee's performance. She has later said "My status as a musician in America is pretty much cemented by Katharine McPhee, which is really interesting and funny for me because I've never been polite about how I feel about shows like that."
Tunstall released a new acoustic album in May 2006, KT Tunstall's Acoustic Extravaganza, which was first only available via mail order from her website. The album was re-released in stores worldwide in October 2006.
Tunstall's third album, Drastic Fantastic, premiered on 3 September 2007 in Scotland, followed a week later on 10 September 2007 with the London release for the UK and 18 September 2007, in the US. In its first week, Drastic Fantastic reached #1 on the Scottish Album Charts, #3 on the UK Charts, and #9 on the U.S. Charts. The album's lead single "Hold On" was released in August 2007, debuting at #34 in the UK, before peaking at #21 in the United Kingdom. The song was also very successful in certain European nations peaking at #19 in Italy, #19 in Norway, #26 in Switzerland and #39 in Ireland. The album's second single "Saving My Face" was released in December 2007. The song did not make the UK Top 40 Singles Charts, but however did managed to peak at #50 on the UK Singles Charts, managing 3 weeks on the UK Charts. Despite missing the UK Top 40, the song made the Top 40 in Italy, making #23 and in Switzerland peaking at #93. The album's third single, and final worldwide single, "If Only" was released in March 2008, becoming the second single from the album not to make the UK Top 40, it managed #45 in audition.
On 5 October 2007 the U.S. discount department store chain Target, in association with NBC, released a special KT Tunstall Christmas EP on CD. Sounds of the Season: The KT Tunstall Holiday Collection contains six exclusive tracks:
In 2008 KT Tunstall recorded a song for the album Songs for Survival, in support of the indigenous rights organization Survival International. In a video for Survival International, she speaks of music as being a force for good, and about what she has learned about tribal people on this project. She also discusses various issues concerning our culture of consumption and greed, our relation to the earth and the importance of indigenous rights in the world today.
Tunstall also worked with Suzanne Vega on her 2007 album Beauty & Crime, singing backup on songs "Zephyr and I" and "Frank and Ava". It was revealed in the booklet by Vega that the two had never met during the process of making the album.
On February 11, 2010 The Daily Record reported that, " 'KT TUNSTALL has recorded her new album in Berlin's famous Hansa studio. The studio, beside the site of the Berlin Wall, was used to make legendary albums including David Bowie's Heroes and U2's Achtung Baby. Kt said: "I had an amazing three weeks recording in Hansa in Berlin in January and am finishing it all off in London." The Scots singer, who has been quiet of late, reassured fans she has been busy. She added: "I am still very much alive and have every music-making limb and muscle working in my laboratory of fierce-new-album-ness." Before her album comes out, KT will be playing a stripped-down set at the Haiti fundraising gig at the Roundhouse in Camden on Thursday February 25. She hopes to jump up with her old pal Seasick Steve for a song or two. Kt added: "My shizzle will feature some new faces and definitely some new songs, so come and have a listen and chuck some dough at a good cause." '
Tunstall is known for her live performances, in which she combines use of an Akai E2 Headrush loop pedal, which she affectionately calls "Wee Bastard", with a full four-piece backing band (Luke Bullen on drums, Arnulf Lindner on bass, Sam Lewis on lead guitar and Kenny Dickenson on keyboards, trumpet, percussion and various other instruments), as well as her two backup singers (Cat Sforza and Ami Richardson)
Similar to her initial debut on music show Later... with Jools Holland, Tunstall first debuted in the United States performing on various talk shows, although it wasn't until The Ellen DeGeneres Show that she was interviewed. Since her talk show days, she has performed at numerous large concerts such as the Hogmanay Edinburgh Concert in 2005, the American leg of Live Earth in 2007, and the Nobel Peace Prize Concert also in 2007. Tunstall said prior to the Hogmanay performance that "This is the gig of a lifetime... This Hogmanay party is probably the best-known and best-loved in the world, and I've been here a few times over the years dreaming of being the one entertaining the crowds. Until we're on that stage I won't believe we're allowed on it."
Jimmy Doherty organised a festival called "Harvest at Jimmy's" in which many folk artists performed for festival goers. KT Tunstall played at this event and was the "Headliner act" of the festival. She performed some exclusive tracks from her new album at the event.
In Tunstall's break through year, 2005, she received a nomination for the Mercury Music Prize, which eventually went to Antony and the Johnsons; and was awarded Best Track for her composition and performance of "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" by Q magazine.
In January the following year, 2006, she received three BRIT nominations - British Live Act, British Breakthrough Act, and British Female Solo Artist - eventually gaining the award for British Female Solo Artist, remarking that she wished to share it with fellow nominee Kate Bush. Later the same month she was given a European Border Breakers Award, which recognises the top-selling European Union artists outside their home country. Also, in 2006 she won the Ivor Novello Best Song Musically and Lyrically for "Suddenly I See", along with Scottish Style Awards "Most Stylish Band or Musician".
She gained more nominations in 2007 and 2008: a 2007 Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" (eventually going to Christina Aguilera for "Ain't No Other Man"), and another BRIT nomination for British Female Solo Artist — the same accolade she had won in 2006.
Tunstall appears on the Sam Lewis song "Another Lifetime" from his album Everything You Are. Tunstall appears on the Sophie Solomon song "Lazarus", on the album Poison Sweet Madeira, and provided guest vocals for three tracks, "Ladino Song," "Refugee," and "Yesterday's Mistake," on the Oi Va Voi album Laughter Through Tears (2003). She has also performed "Get Ur Freak On" by Missy Elliott, "My Doorbell" by The White Stripes at a school performance in Scotland and "The Prayer" by Bloc Party at Live Lounge. Tunstall's seventh single, "Another Place to Fall," featured a cover of Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees". She appears in the 2006 album Wave of the Japanese singer Yuki, where she wrote "Yume Miteitai" and "Birthday". She also provided backing vocals for the Travis song 'Under The Moonlight' and recorded lead vocals for the Leo Abrahams song 'City Machine'. In 2007, Tunstall sang backing vocals and was credited for vocal arrangements on Suzanne Vega's studio album Beauty And Crime.
Excerpts from other tracks were subsequently used in Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, and Will & Grace. The singer's breakthrough hit "Suddenly I See" was used in the opening scene of the 2006 fashion satire The Devil Wears Prada.
"Suddenly I See" was also used as a backing track on the second series of American dance competition show So You Think You Can Dance and was featured in the September 2007 Next television advert 'Ali's Party'.
Tunstall on 5 September 2007 was introduced on stage by Steve Jobs to close out an Apple Event that, among other things, saw the introduction of the 3rd-generation iPod nano and the iPod touch. She performed “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree".
"Suddenly I See" was also one of Hillary Clinton's campaign songs. Tunstall stated that she supported Barack Obama for President and did not grant any formal permission for Clinton to use her song but was "not going to call up and say don't use it" due to the song's exposure and her general support for an American Democratic Party government.
1n January 2009, Tunstall gave a spirited performance as a guest and co-collaborator at Neil Finn's 7 Worlds Collide concert series at The Powerstation in Auckland, New Zealand. Tunstall was joined by such musical luminaries as: Johnny Marr (The Smiths), Bic Runga, Don McLashan( The Muttonbirds), Wilco, Liam Finn, Lisa Germano, Sebastian Steinberg and the Radiohead Rythmn'n'guitar Duo' Ed O'Brien and Phil Selway. One of the highlights was her rendition of the, rarely heard live, Radiohead classic "Fake Plastic Trees", which she introduced as something she always dreamed of doing.
On 25 July 2009 KT presented an hour-long programme, "Eye to the Telescope", on BBC Radio 2. In this programme she discussed the influence of astronomy and spaceflight on popular music. (During this programme she said that 2001: A Space Odyssey is her second favourite film, The Shining being her absolute favourite. Both films were directed by Stanley Kubrick.)
Although her first name is Kate, she chooses to go by KT as her first name, saying "[Kate] just makes me think of a buxom lass baking bread for her man working in the fields. I have no problem with that, but it's just not really how I pictured being a rock star." Also, Tunstall spells her first name KT (as opposed to Katie) to differentiate herself from fellow singer Katie Melua.
Tunstall sparked some controversy in 2005 when she publicly criticised singer/songwriter Dido, stating that the artist "can't fucking sing" after several fans compared the two musically. Tunstall later apologized, stating that she did not want to be involved in a public feud.
Tunstall denies rumors or assumptions that she is a lesbian by expressing gratitude to her gay and lesbian following, and says the rainbow patterned suspenders on her debut record cover were not intended as a statement of identity or politics as she was unaware of the symbolism at the time.
In April 2007, Tunstall underwent surgery to correct an undersized kidney, a problem caused by a childhood infection.
In 2003 Tunstall began dating Luke Bullen, the drummer in her band. On Christmas Day, 2007, Bullen proposed to her at her parents' home in St Andrews, Scotland, and the couple were married on 6 September 2008 at the Flodigarry Country House Hotel on the Isle Of Skye in Scotland.
In September 2008 Tunstall joined the Disko Bay Cape Farewell expedition to the West Coast of Greenland. Cape Farewell is a UK based arts organisation that brings artists, scientists and communicators together to instigate a cultural response to climate change.
The fire fades away.