Kate Rusby

Last updated

Kate Rusby
Kate Rusby live.jpg
Rusby at the 2005 Cambridge Folk Festival
Background information
Birth nameKate Anna Rusby
Born (1973-12-04) 4 December 1973 (age 46)
Penistone, Barnsley, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Origin Cawthorne, Barnsley, England
Genres English folk music
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals, piano
Years active1992–present
LabelsPure Records
Associated acts Damien O'Kane, The Poozies
Website katerusby.com

Kate Anna Rusby (born 4 December 1973) [1] is an English folk singer-songwriter from Penistone, Barnsley, West Riding of Yorkshire, England. Sometimes called the "Barnsley Nightingale", she has headlined various British national folk festivals, and is one of the best known contemporary English folk singers. In 2001 The Guardian described her as "a superstar of the British acoustic scene." [2] In 2007 the BBC website described her as "The first lady of young folkies". She is one of the few folk singers to have been nominated for the Mercury Prize. [3] [4]



Rusby was born into a family of musicians in 1973 in Barnsley, West Riding of Yorkshire, England. [1] After learning to play the guitar, the fiddle and the piano, as well as to sing, she played in many local folk festivals as a child and adolescent, before joining (and becoming the lead vocalist of) the all-female Celtic folk band the Poozies. 1995 saw the release of her breakthrough album, Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts, a collaboration with her friend and fellow Barnsley folk singer Kathryn Roberts. In 1997, with the help of her family, Rusby recorded and released her first solo album, Hourglass . Since then she has gone on to receive acclaim in her home country and abroad and her family continues to help her with all aspects of her professional career.

Rusby was also a member of the folk group Equation, later to be replaced by Cara Dillon. The early line-up also featured Rusby's erstwhile performing partner Kathryn Roberts and Mercury-nominated artist Seth Lakeman. Their first EP, In Session, had a small commercial release and led to them signing a major record deal with WEA.

The previously unreleased song "Wandering Soul" was Rusby's contribution to the soundtrack for Billy Connolly's World Tour of New Zealand , an eight-part BBC television documentary series originally broadcast in November 2004.

Rusby at the Larmer Tree Festival 2008 KRusby Larmer08.jpg
Rusby at the Larmer Tree Festival 2008

A collaboration with Ronan Keating saw Rusby riding high in the UK Singles Chart; their duet "All Over Again" peaked at No. 6 in June 2006. She also made a vocal contribution to the successful debut solo album of Roddy Woomble, the lead singer of Idlewild. In the same year her cover of The Kinks' "The Village Green Preservation Society" was used as the theme tune to the BBC One television sitcom Jam & Jerusalem . Rusby has written several new songs for the latest series of Jam & Jerusalem, and is credited as being responsible for the show's music.

Launched at the 2007 Cambridge Folk Festival, the album Awkward Annie was released on 3 September 2007. "The Village Green Preservation Society" is included as a bonus track.

2008 saw the release of Sweet Bells , an album of traditional Christmas songs interpreted by Rusby. She has since released three more Christmas albums: While Mortals Sleep (2011), The Frost Is All Over (2015) and Angels & Men (2017). Each December, Rusby embarks on a popular Christmas tour across the United Kingdom.

In 2010, Rusby released the album Make the Light , a collection of self-penned songs. In 2014, she released the album Ghost , which featured traditional songs and three Rusby originals. Rusby's fourteenth solo album, Life in a Paper Boat, was released in 2016 with a fourth Christmas album Angels And Men, the following year.

Personal life

Rusby with her daughter at her 2010 wedding to fellow musician Damien O'Kane Portraits (Kate Rusby).jpg
Rusby with her daughter at her 2010 wedding to fellow musician Damien O'Kane

In August 2001, Rusby married Scottish fiddler and fellow band member John McCusker (formerly of the Battlefield Band), who produced most of her recordings up to The Girl Who Couldn't Fly , but they subsequently divorced in 2006. [5] [6] In June 2010, she married Irish musician Damien O'Kane, with whom she has two children. [7] [8]


Solo albums

Christmas albums


Mercury Music Prize

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards

Related Research Articles

Michael McGoldrick musician

Michael McGoldrick is a folk musician who plays Irish flute, uilleann pipes, low whistle and bodhran. He also plays other instruments such as acoustic guitar cittern and mandolin on some of his tracks.

Cara Dillon Irish folk singer

Cara Elizabeth Dillon is an Irish folk singer. In 1995, she joined the folk supergroup Equation and signed a record deal with Warners Music Group. After leaving the group, she collaborated with Sam Lakeman under the name Polar Star. In 2001, she released her first solo album, Cara Dillon, which featured traditional songs and two original Dillon/Lakeman compositions. The album was an unexpected hit in the folk world, with Dillon receiving four nominations at the 2002 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards award

The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards celebrate outstanding achievement during the previous year within the field of folk music, with the aim of raising the profile of folk and acoustic music. The awards have been given annually since 2000 by British radio station BBC Radio 2.

Idlewild (band) Scottish indie rock band from Edinburgh

Idlewild are a Scottish rock band formed in Edinburgh in 1995. The band's line-up consists of Roddy Woomble, Rod Jones, Colin Newton (drums), Andrew Mitchell (bass), and Luciano Rossi (keyboards). To date, Idlewild have released nine full-length studio albums.

John McCusker British musician

John McCusker is a Scottish folk musician, record producer and composer. An accomplished fiddle player, he had a long association as a member of the Battlefield Band beginning in the 1990s and was later a band member and producer for folk singer Kate Rusby. He has served as producer and arranger for artists in a range of genres and also has several solo albums to his credit.

Karine Polwart Scottish folk singer (b1970)

Karine Polwart is a Scottish singer-songwriter. She writes and performs music with a strong folk and roots feel, her songs dealing with a variety of issues from alcoholism to genocide. She has been most recognised for her solo career, winning three awards at the BBC Folk Awards in 2005, and was previously a member of Malinky and Battlefield Band.

Kathryn Williams English singer-songwriter

Kathryn Williams is an English singer-songwriter who to date has released 14 studio albums, written and arranged for a multitude of artists, and was nominated for the 2000 Mercury Music Prize.

Roddy Woomble Scottish singer-songwriter

Roderick Woomble is a Scottish singer, songwriter and writer. He is the lead vocalist of indie rock band Idlewild, with whom he has recorded seven studio albums. In 2006, Woomble released his debut solo album, My Secret is my Silence, and released three subsequent albums.

Kathryn Roberts British singer

Kathryn Roberts is an English folk singer, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

<i>My Secret is my Silence</i> 2006 studio album by Roddy Woomble

My Secret is my Silence is the debut studio album by Idlewild lead vocalist Roddy Woomble, released 24 July 2006 on Pure Records.

Rod Jones (musician) English rock guitarist

Rodric Iwan Pryce Jones is an English guitarist, singer and songwriter.

Jim Causley British musician

Jim Causley is an English folk singer, songwriter, and musician from Devon who specializes in the traditional songs and music of the West Country.

Ian Carr is an English guitarist and record producer from Yorkshire, who has performed with Swåp and The Kate Rusby Band.

Kris Drever British musician

Kris Drever is a Scottish contemporary folk musician and songwriter who came to prominence in 2006 with the release of his debut solo album, Black Water. Drever is the vocalist and guitarist of the folk trio Lau with Martin Green and Aidan O'Rourke, He has worked other British folk contemporaries, including Kate Rusby, John McCusker, Ian Carr, Eddi Reader and Julie Fowlis.

Julie Matthews British singer-songwriter

Julie Matthews is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. She has been a member of some of the most influential British folk duos and groups and is acknowledged internationally as a major songwriter, with her work being covered by a wide range of artists and groups. Her music is often classified as English folk, but contains strong American influences.

Kellie While is an English folk singer-songwriter.

Heidi Talbot Irish singer

Heidi Talbot is an Irish folk singer from Kill, County Kildare, Ireland. Talbot is a former singer of Irish-American musical group Cherish the Ladies.

Kate Rusby discography

The discography of Kate Rusby, an English folk singer, consists of seventeen solo albums, four albums as part of a duo or group, four extended plays (EPs), two video albums, thirteen singles, and six music videos. Rusby's debut was Intuition, an album recorded in collaboration with five other female singers from Yorkshire, which was released on a small label in 1993. Her breakthrough came with an eponymous album recorded with Kathryn Roberts, another of the singers featured on Intuition. This album, which was named as the best of the year by Folk Roots magazine, was the first release on Pure Records, a label set up by Rusby's father on which all her subsequent solo recordings have been released. Rusby and Roberts also formed the band the Equation in conjunction with the Lakeman Brothers, but Rusby left the group after their debut EP. In 1996 she joined the all-female folk group the Poozies, with whom she released one EP and one full-length album.

Sean Lakeman British folk musician + Record Producer

Sean Lakeman is an English folk musician and record producer.

Dave Burland singer and guitarist

Dave Burland is an English folk singer and guitarist. A former policeman, he has been performing in English folk clubs since 1968 and has been described by The Guardian as having a "uniquely relaxed singing style".


  1. 1 2 "KateRusby.com: Biography" KateRusby.com (Retrieved: 19 July 2009)
  2. Denselow, Robin; "Kate Rusby – Queen Elizabeth Hall, London" Guardian.co.uk, 28 June 2001 (Retrieved: 19 July 2009)
  3. Wilson, Sue; "Lost love and other heartbreaks" Independent.co.uk, 18 June 2001 (Retrieved: 19 July 2009)
  4. 1 2 "No sure bets for Mercury" news.BBC.co.uk, 7 September 1999 (Retrieved: 19 July 2009)
  5. "Kate Rusby – Wyvern Theatre, Swindon". 26 April 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  6. "Kate Rusby". IMDb. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  7. "Damien O'Kane: 'I knew Kate's music way before I knew her ... I love the passion in her vocals'" . Retrieved 26 July 2020 via www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk.
  8. Chilton, Martin (19 November 201). "Kate Rusby: Make The Light, review" . Retrieved 26 July 2020 via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  9. "Safe as Folk". BBC. 15 September 2005. Retrieved 19 July 2009.
  10. "Kate Rusby New Album '20' featuring Paul Weller and a host of Folk Giants". Folk Radio UK. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  11. 1 2 3 "Radio 2 Folk Awards 2006: Previous Winners" BBC.co.uk (Retrieved: 19 July 2009)
  12. "Radio 2 Folk Awards 2006: Winners" BBC.co.uk (Retrieved: 19 July 2009)
  13. "Sir Bob Geldof to be honoured by Gold Badge Awards – M Magazine". M-magazine.co.uk. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2019.