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Kate Victoria Tunstall, better known as KT Tunstall (born 23 June 1975 in St Andrewsmarker, Scotlandmarker), 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.

Early years

Tunstall was born in St Andrewsmarker, Scotlandmarker 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 Andrewsmarker, and her adoptive mother was a school teacher. Tunstall's family also includes an older brother named Joe and a younger brother named Daniel. Remarkably, 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 Andrewsmarker, a town in Fifemarker, attending Lawhead Primary, but spending her last year of high school in New Englandmarker at the Kent School, a selective prep school in Kent, Connecticutmarker.
"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, Vermontmarker, and at a commune in rural Vermont. Tunstall studied at the High School of Dundeemarker in Dundeemarker, Madras College in St Andrews, Kent School in Connecticutmarker, and at Royal Holloway, University of Londonmarker. She has said that: "...My earliest memories are Californian...", attributed to a sabbatical that her father took at UCLAmarker in 1979.

Recording and performing career

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.

Music career

Eye to the Telescope (2004 - 2006)

Her debut album, Eye to the Telescope, was released in late 2004. Tunstall's style of music varies from folk to pop. In Edinburghmarker and St Andrewsmarker, 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."

KT Tunstall's Acoustic Extravagana (2006 - 2007)

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 sang with Scottish band Travis on their 2007 album "The Boy With No Name", on the track "Under The Moonlight", a song written by Susie Hug (late of Katydids).

Drastic Fantastic (2007 - present)

A Billboard in the United Kingdom promoting Drastic Fantastic.
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 sucesful in certain European nations peaking at #19 in Italymarker, #19 in Norwaymarker, #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 albums third singles, 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, Target in association with NBC, released a special KT Tunstall Christmas album with 6 exclusive tracks:

Live performances

Tunstall performing at the Cardiff Union on 19 October 2005.
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 Statesmarker 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 Concertmarker 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."


Q Award

In 2005, Tunstall won Best Track for her composition and performance of "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" from the Q Awards.

Mercury Prize

She received a nomination for the Mercury Music Prize, though lost to Antony and the Johnsons.

Brit Awards

Tunstall received three BRIT award nominations when they were announced on 11 January 2006. Nominations included Best British Live Act, British Breakthrough Act, and British Female Solo Artist. At the ceremony on 15 February 2006, Tunstall performed "Suddenly I See" and won the award for Best British Female Solo Artist, remarking that she wished to share it with fellow nominee Kate Bush.

Tunstall received another BRIT award nomination on 14 January 2008 for British Female Solo Artist - the same accolade she won in 2006. She was nominated alongside Bat For Lashes, Kate Nash, Leona Lewis and PJ Harvey.

European Awards

On 22 January 2006, she was awarded a European Border Breakers Award, which awards the top-selling EU artists, discounting sales in their home state (in this case, discounting UK sales). 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 - Interview here."

Grammy Awards

Tunstall received a 2007 Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree", but the award went to Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man."

Other credits

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 Japanesemarker 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.

In September 2006, Tunstall was chosen as USA Network Artist of the Month, and her music was used as the soundtrack for the US Openmarker tennis campaign that year.

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.

"Suddenly I See" was used in the video game, "Thrillville", and also in an Israeli commercial of the company "Pelephone" in 2008.

In 2007, Tunstall came into The DL and showcased her knowledge of Star Trek trivia.

"Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" is the opening theme song used in the CBC series Wild Roses.

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 Zealandmarker. 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 25th July 2009 K T 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.)

She has been announced as a guest presenter for an astronomy-themed show on BBC, which will be named "Eye to the Telescope" after her first album.
Performing in 2005

Personal life

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 bashed 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.

Tunstall's first and most passionate flame was a young Scot named Kenneth Ross. Ross, who went on to become the author of the Official History of Dundee Football Club, is cited as her childhood sweetheart.

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 Flodigarrymarker Country House Hotel on the Isle Of Skyemarker 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.



Early recordings

  • 2000: Tracks in July
  • 2003: Toons March '03

Studio albums

Acoustic albums


Release Title Album Chart positions
UK U.S. U.S. Pop U.S. AC U.S. Adult Top 40 U.S. Digital Italymarker CAN IRL ARIA Singles Chart
2004 "Throw Me a Rope" Stand-alone release - - - - - - - - - -
"False Alarm" (EP) Eye to the Telescope - - - - - - - - - -
2005 "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" 28 20 22 4 1 9 10 22 16 -
"Other Side of the World" 13 - - - 19 - 22 - 25 -
"Suddenly I See" 12 21 21 10 5 14 36 33 25 6
"Under the Weather" 39 - - - - - - - - -
2006 "Another Place to Fall" 52 - - - - - - - - -
"Ashes" (Promo Only) Acoustic Extravaganza - - - - - - - - - -
2007 "Hold On" Drastic Fantastic 21 104 95 - 27 - 19 46 41 -
"Saving My Face" 50 - - - - - 23 - - -
2008 "If Only" 45 - - - - - - - - -
2009 "Little Favours" - - - - - - - - - -

  • Notes:
  1. "Throw Me a Rope" was released as a 7" vinyl only and was limited to 300 copies.
  2. "False Alarm" was released as an EP.
  3. "Other Side of the World" charted at Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks in 2007.


  1. Planet Rock Profiles - KT Tunstall
  2. Thomason, Carmel "KT's got one eye on the future", Manchester Evening News, 10 March 2005 Accessed 24 February 2008]
  3. SoundStage (2008-07-10). Tunstall, KT (2008-07-10). Statement during 10 July 2008 broadcast of SoundStage.
  4. Elia Drew
  5. KT Tunstall – Drastic Fantastic Home
  12. [1]
  13. From Macworld's recap of the Sept. 5, 2007Apple Event
  14. [2]

External links



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