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KT Tunstall

Singer / Songwriter from Edinburgh

Tracks (3)
Black Horse And The Cherry Tree

KT Tunstall

KT Tunstall Biography

Kate Victoria "KT" Tunstall is a Scottish singer-songwriter and musician. She first gained attention with a 2004 live solo performance of her song "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" on Later... with Jools Holland.Early life and education Tunstall was born to a half-Chinese, half-Scottish mother, Carol Ann, who was from Hong Kong, and an Irish father. Her parents met while her mother was working as a dancer in Penthouse bar in Edinburgh, where her father was a bartender. She never met her biological father. She was born at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital and, at 18 days old, her mother placed her for adoption with a family in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. Her adoptive father, David Tuns...
Kate Victoria "KT" Tunstall is a Scottish singer-songwriter and musician. She first gained attention with a 2004 live solo performance of her song "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" on Later... with Jools Holland.

Early life and education

Tunstall was born to a half-Chinese, half-Scottish mother, Carol Ann, who was from Hong Kong, and an Irish father. Her parents met while her mother was working as a dancer in Penthouse bar in Edinburgh, where her father was a bartender. She never met her biological father. She was born at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital and, at 18 days old, her mother placed her for adoption with a family in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. Her adoptive father, David Tunstall, was a physics lecturer at the University of St Andrews, and her adoptive mother, Rosemary Tunstall, was a primary school teacher. Tunstall has said: "My earliest memories are Californian", attributed to a sabbatical that her father took at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1979. She was musically oriented and her adoptive parents supported her interest. She recollected that she asked for a piano when she was four.

Tunstall grew up in St Andrews, Fife, attending Lawhead Primary, then Madras College in St. Andrews and the High School of Dundee, but she spent her last year of high school in the United States at the Kent School, a selective boarding school in Kent, Connecticut. She spent time busking on Church Street in Burlington, Vermont, and at a commune in rural Vermont. Tunstall studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Drama & Music in 1996. Royal Holloway conferred on her an honorary doctorate in science in 2011 for her works on environmental issues as a musician.

Tunstall tracked down her biological mother, Carol Ann, in 1996 and learned that her mother was married to cab driver David Orr. She has been critical of the British National Party. In 2010, she publicly disowned Orr because of his decision to run as a BNP candidate in the general election for Livingston. In 2019, she appeared in Series 9 of Long Lost Family. She learned that her biological father had died, but she was united with two half-sisters by her biological father's second marriage.

Music career

Career beginnings

Tunstall performing at the Cardiff University Students' Union, October 2005

Throughout Tunstall's twenties, she played in indie music bands including Elia Drew and Tomoko. She focused on songwriting, as well as performing with members of the fledgling Fence Collective. Tunstall had 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 stayed with them while they were making their album, Laughter Through Tears.

British label Relentless Records put forward an independent offer. However, Tunstall had decided to sign with a US major, and initially passed up the offer. But when that deal did not work out, she decided to go with Relentless. Although Relentless co-founder Shabs Jobanputra recognised the potential in the quality of Tunstall's voice and songs in the early 2000s, his assessment then was that she "wasn't ready yet" and so together with Tunstall's manager, Jobanputra discussed "the process of how we saw her happening and how we would work, why we thought the songs were great, why we thought she was great, and why it could really work if we took enough time."

2004–2007: Eye to the Telescope and Acoustic Extravaganza

Tunstall performing at the Isle of Wight Festival 2008

Her debut album, Eye to the Telescope, was released in late 2004.

Tunstall's first appearance of note was a solo performance of her folk blues song "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" on Later... with Jools Holland. She had only 24 hours to prepare after scheduled performer Nas cancelled. She performed as a one-person band using a guitar, a tambourine, and a loop pedal.

Shortly after the Later appearance, Eye to the Telescope was re-released and shot up the British charts, eventually peaking at No. 3 (on its first release it had entered at No. 73); it was nominated for the 2005 Mercury Music Prize. It was released in the US on 7 February 2006.

On the UK Singles Charts, "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" made No. 28 on the charts and on the US Billboard Hot 100, charted at No. 20. The next release from the album in the United Kingdom was "Other Side of the World" whilst "Suddenly I See" was released in the United States and used in the opening credits of the film The Devil Wears Prada, as well as in Ugly Betty. Further singles released from the album were "Under the Weather" and "Another Place to Fall" which were also successful.

Tunstall performing at the 2005 Summer Sundae in Leicester, 2005

Tunstall released an acoustic collection album on 15 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 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 No. 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 No. 23 on the Billboard charts the week following McPhee's performance.

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).

2007–2012: Drastic Fantastic and Tiger Suit

Tunstall performing at AIR Studios, London 2008

Tunstall's second album, Drastic Fantastic, premiered on 3 September 2007 in Scotland, followed a week later on 10 September 2007 with the London release for Britain and 18 September 2007, in the US. In its first week, Drastic Fantastic reached No. 1 on the Scottish Album Charts, No. 3 on the British Charts, and No. 9 in the American Charts. The album's lead single, "Hold On", was released in the UK in August 2007, débuting at No. 34 there before peaking at No. 21. The song was also very successful in certain European nations peaking at No. 19 in Italy, No. 19 in Norway, No. 26 in Switzerland and No. 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 No. 50 on the UK Singles Charts, managing three weeks on the UK Charts. Despite missing the UK Top 40, the song made the Top 40 in Italy, making No. 23 and in Switzerland peaking at No. 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 No. 45 in audition.

In the United States, "Hold On" was moderately successful, charting at No. 95 on the US Billboard Pop Chart and No. 27 on the US Billboard Adult Top 40. However, on the main Billboard Hot 100 charts, it stalled, failing to make impact inside the Top 100, causing it to chart at No. 104 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Drastic Fantastic became one of her best charting albums to date, charting at No. 3 on the UK Album Charts, topping the Scottish Album Charts and making the top ten of the US Billboard 200 album charts, charting at No. 9. Further singles released from Drastic Fantastic were "Saving My Face" and "If Only" which were moderately successful, charting at No. 50 and No. 45 on the UK Singles Charts respectively.

Tunstall commented that the photograph for the album cover was influenced by the rock star Suzi Quatro.

On 5 October 2007, the US 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. On 10 December 2007, it was released in Europe through Relentless under the title Have Yourself a Very KT Christmas.

In 2008, Tunstall recorded a song for the album Songs for Survival, in support of the indigenous rights organisation 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.

Over the Christmas holidays in 2008, Tunstall joined Neil Finn's 7 Worlds Collide lineup in Auckland, New Zealand to record a studio charity album for Oxfam. The album was recorded in Finn's New Zealand studio over three weeks and featured all-new material, with singing and songwriting contributions divided amongst the group. Most of the participants from the original 2001 7 Worlds Collide lineup returned, along with several new additions including Jeff Tweedy, Glenn Kotche, John Stirratt and Pat Sansone of Wilco, New Zealand songwriters Don McGlashan and Bic Runga, and Finn's son Elroy Finn. The album, titled The Sun Came Out, was released on 31 August 2009.

On 11 February 2010, the Daily Record reported that Tunstall had recorded her new album in Berlin's Hansa Studios. Located near the former site of the Berlin Wall, the studio was used to make legendary albums including David Bowie's "Heroes" and U2's Achtung Baby. Tunstall said, "I had an amazing three weeks recording in Hansa in Berlin in January and am finishing it all off in London." Her third album, titled Tiger Suit, was released in the United Kingdom on 27 September 2010 and in the United States on 5 October 2010.

Tunstall said that Tiger Suit's title is inspired by a recurring dream she had, before discovering that 2010 is the Chinese Year of the Tiger. The dream is about her, seeing a tiger in her garden and goes outside to stroke it. She returns indoors and is seized by the fear that she could have been killed. Over the years, it has occurred to her that the reason the tiger responds so passively is that she herself is disguised as a tiger, wearing a tiger suit. She said that while writing and recording the album, she experimented with a new sound she called "Nature techno", which mixes organic instrumentation with electronic and dance textures, similar in style to the work of Björk. At a media showcase in London, Tunstall offered an unusual description of the songs from her forthcoming third album: "Like Eddie Cochran working with Leftfield".

The album's first single was "Fade Like a Shadow" in the United States and "(Still a) Weirdo" in the United Kingdom. These lead singles were released before the album.[citation needed]

Tunstall has also a been a panelist on the BBC Two comedy music show Never Mind the Buzzcocks, first on series 21 episode 8 (2008), and on series 24 episode 10 (2012).

2013–2014 Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon and other ventures

On 20 March 2013, Tunstall announced that her fourth album would be titled Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon, considered as her best by most critics and her most melancholic album to date. The title is inspired by the two batches of songs from the album: Invisible Empire, recorded in April 2012, is the melancholic half that deals with her father's death and the theme of mortality, while the Crescent Moon half, recorded in November 2012, is full of songs that are more ethereal. These thirteen songs formed an album that Tunstall qualified as "from the heart," inspired by her divorce from Luke Bullen and her father's passing away.

Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon premiered in the United Kingdom on 10 June 2013, while it was released in Germany and Australia on 7 June, and in Japan and Canada on 11 June. However, the release date was pushed back to 6 August 2013 in the United States. Meanwhile, the lead single, "Feel It All", was released worldwide on 10 June, and its music video on 29 April.

In its first week, the album entered the UK charts at No. 14 and it was a modest commercial performer in Europe: it peaked at No. 52 in Belgium, No. 84 in Netherlands, No. 240 in France, No. 7 in Scotland, and No. 56 in Switzerland. On the other hand, the album received the best reviews and ratings Tunstall has ever received.[citation needed]

In 2013, Tunstall worked with Howe Gelb in Tucson, Arizona for his album The Coincidentalist, and recorded a duet on the song "The 3 Deaths of Lucky". Also, she plays in a second episode of This is Jinsy on 5 February 2014, as bearded folk musician Briiian Raggatan.

Over a year after the album release, Tunstall left Edinburgh to move to Los Angeles and started a new musical career of soundtrack composer. She studied composing soundtracks at the Skywalker Ranch and composed and performed the following soundtracks:

  • "Miracle" for the movie Winter's Tale, featuring Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, and Will Smith. The song was released on 14 February 2014.
  • "We Could Be Kings" written with A. R. Rahman for the Disney movie Million Dollar Arm' on 14 May 2014. The song is included in the Million Dollar Arm: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, among other songs featuring Iggy Azalea, Sukhwinder Singh, and others.
  • "Float", "Strange Sight", and a duet with the musician Bleu on "1000 Years" for the UK version of the Disney movie Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast". It was released on 19 February 2015.
  • "Fit It" in September 2015 for the movie About Ray, featuring Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning and Susan Sarandon.

Live performances

Tunstall performing at the 2005 Glastonbury Festival with her Gibson Dove guitar

Tunstall has a contralto vocal range. 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 backing singers (Cat Sforza and Ami Richardson).

Similar to her initial début on music show Later... with Jools Holland, Tunstall has performed on various American talk shows, including The Ellen DeGeneres Show on 21 September 2007. 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."


In April 2007, Tunstall underwent surgery to correct an undersized kidney, a problem caused by a childhood infection.

In 2008 Tunstall started experiencing problems with the hearing in her left ear. Hearing problems have always been a worry to her; a brother was profoundly deaf since birth. By 2018 the problem had progressed to full left-ear hearing loss and balance problems. In 2021 she announced that she was having to pull out of her touring plans for that summer and permanently avoid lengthy runs of closely consecutive performances, citing issues with her right ear which were "exactly how the breakdown of my left ear began". Regardless, she began appearing as a solo performer in the summer of 2021, including at the Spring Hill Arts Gathering (SHAG) in Washington Depot, CT.

Source : Wikipedia
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KT Tunstall Discography

  • 2004EPFalse Alarm
  • 2005AlbumEye To the Telescope
  • 2006SingleAnother Place to Fall
  • 2006AlbumKT Tunstall's Acoustic Extravaganza
  • 2006EPLive in LA
  • 2006SingleOther Side of the World (Radio Version)
  • 2006AlbumPreviously Unreleased EP
  • 2006SingleSuddenly I See
  • 2007AlbumDrastic Fantastic
  • 2007AlbumDrastic Fantastic (Ultimate Edition)
  • 2010EPHave Yourself a Very KT Christmas
  • 2010AlbumLive At the Wiltern
  • 2010AlbumTiger Suit
  • 2010AlbumTiger Suit (Untamed Edition)
  • 2011SingleBlack Horse and the Cherry Tree (Karaoke Version)
  • 2013AlbumInvisible Empire // Crescent Moon
  • 2015SingleShould I Stay or Should I Go (From the TV Show "Wicked City")
  • 2016EPGolden State
  • 2016AlbumGolden State EP
  • 2016SingleHard Girls (Acoustic)
  • 2016AlbumKin
  • 2016SingleMaybe It's a Good Thing (Acoustic)
  • 2017SingleFit In (From "3 Generations")
  • 2018EPBBC Live Sessions
  • 2018SingleHey, Mr Santa!
  • 2018SingleThe River (Acoustic)
  • 2018AlbumWax
  • 2019SingleGimme Some Truth (feat. KT Tunstall)
  • 2019SingleHuman Being (Acoustic)
  • 2019SingleLittle Red Thread (Acoustic)
  • 2020SingleI Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (feat. KT Tunstall)
  • 2020SingleStarlight & Gold
  • 2020SingleWash Ya Hands (feat. Grace Savage & The Freelance Hellraiser)
  • 2021SingleCaledonia
  • 2021SingleDance with the Devil
  • 2021SingleHeartbeat Bangs
  • 2021SingleI Know What Love Is (Because of You) [feat. Andy Lund, Andy Powers, Ben Monteith, Brian Colins, Chris Conley, Chris Hau, Christopher Cooper, C.J. Smith, Damian DeRobbio, Daniel Donato, Daniela DeRobbio, Danny Black, Daria Musk, Dauzat St. Marie, Gabriel O'Brien, Greg Mervine, Hazard To Ya Booty, Jay Parkin, Josh Krajcik, Justus West, KBong, Kevin Lloyd, Kirki Chi, LULLANAS, Lindsay Love, Lizzie Peirce, Lloyd Vines, Lola Parkin, Masaki Toraiwa, Nicholas Veinoglou, Pam Chung, Paul Cannon, Ram, Rob Devious, Rob Machado, Sae Banjoya, Sara Niemietz, Simone Parkin, Solana DeRobbio, Tawn Nguyen, The Clark Family, Thunderstorm Artis, Tim Arnold, Tolan Shaw, Abner Nevarez, Ai Fujimori, Al Bettis & Alana Springsteen]
  • 2021SingleTogether We Are Stronger (feat. Nikki Vianna & Devyn De Loera)
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