Kate Anna Rusby (born 4 December 1973 in Sheffield, England), is an English folk singer and songwriter from Penistone, South Yorkshire. Sometimes known as The Barnsley Nightingale, she has headlined various British national folk festivals, and is regarded as one of the most famous English folk singers of contemporary times. In 2001 The Guardian described her as "a superstar of the British acoustic scene." 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
Rusby was born into a family of musicians. 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. Her break-through album came in 1995. A collaboration with her friend and fellow Barnsley folk singer Kathryn Roberts was simply titled "Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts". In 1997, with the help of her family, she 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 at the Larmer Tree Festival 2008
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 demo CD, In Session, had a small commercial release.
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.
A collaboration with Ronan Keating saw Rusby riding high in the UK singles chart; their duet "All Over Again" peaking at no.6 in June 2006. She also made a large 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 newest series of Jam & Jerusalem and is credited as 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 in typically tasteful fashion by Rusby.
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. They have since divorced.
Rusby lives with her husband Damien O'Kane and her dog Doris, herself a mainstay feature of Rusby's banter during gigs and appearing on her merchandise. Their first child, Daisy Delia Rusby O'Kane was born at 9.45am on the 15 September 2009, weighing in at 8 lb 5oz. Kate and Damien were married on 12 June 2010.
Little Lights (2001)
Underneath the Stars (2003)
The Girl Who Couldn't Fly (2005)
Awkward Annie (2007) #2 UK Indie
Sweet Bells (2008)
Make the Light (November 22, 2010)
Mercury Music Prize
1999: Sleepless — nominated
BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards
2000: Folk Singer of the Year — winner
2000: Best Album: Sleepless — winner
2002: Best Original Song: "Who Will Sing Me Lullabies" — winner
2006: Best Original Song: "No Names" (with Roddy Woomble from Idlewild) — nominated
2006: Best Album: The Girl Who Couldn't Fly — nominated
2006: Best Live Act — winner