Kate Bush (born Catherine Bush on July 30, 1958 in Bexleyheath, Kent, now part of Greater London) is a British singer-songwriter with an expressive four-octave voice. She is known for her eccentric, idiosyncratic literary lyrics, and eclectic and meticulous musical and production style. She debuted in 1978 with the surprise hit "Wuthering Heights", which was number one in the British music charts for four weeks. She has become one of the most influential female artists of the twentieth century.
While still attending St. Joseph's convent school in Abbey Wood, South East London where she studied the piano and violin, Kate Bush caught the attention of David Gilmour of Pink Floyd
, who helped fund her first demo sessions. She signed a contract with EMI when she was 16. However, in the first two years of her contract, Bush did not release an album, but instead completed her time at school.
In 2005, Bush stated in an interview with Mark Radcliffe on BBC Radio One that she felt that EMI did not let her release an album until later not so that she could hone her talents, as they would continually perpetualize, but rather in order that no other record company could offer her a contract. Nonetheless, EMI did forward her a sizeable amount of start-up money with which she used to buy a synthesizer and enroll in Lindsey Kemp's interpretive dance classes.
During this time, Bush wrote and made demos of close to 200 songs, which today can be found on bootleg recordings (often known as the Phoenix Recordings). She also performed at various small venues in and near London under the name KT Bush Band
Her first album, The Kick Inside
, was released in 1978, and featured songs she had written during the previous two years, including the single "Wuthering Heights", which topped the UK and Australian charts and became an international hit. In doing so, Bush became the first woman to reach Number One in the UK with a self-penned song. A period of intense work followed. A second album, Lionheart
, was quickly recorded; Bush has often expressed dissatisfaction with it, feeling she needed more time to get it right. Following its release, she was required to undertake heavy promotional work and an exhausting tour, the only one of her career.
Bush disliked the exposure and the celebrity lifestyle, feeling it was taking her away from her main priority: making music. A slow and steady withdrawal from public life began as she moved into producing her own work with Never for Ever
and developed a perfectionistic, painstaking approach to making music which would see her ensconced in the studio for long periods and only needing to face the glare of the press when the subsequent albums were released.
A pattern began to form in the 1980s, in which Bush would disappear for up to four years while she honed her new material until it was ready for release. After the release of The Red Shoes
in 1993 there was no reason to suppose that she would not reappear in three or four years with another set of songs. But the period of silence that followed her seventh studio album was much longer than anyone had anticipated.
Bush dropped out of the public eye for many years, although her name occasionally cropped up in the media in connection with rumours of a new album release. The press continued to speculate wildly about what she was up to; they viewed her as an eccentric recluse, sometimes drawing a comparison with Miss Havisham, from Charles Dickens' Great Expectations
. In fact she was trying to give her young son a normal childhood, away from the world of show business. Bush gave birth to Albert, known as Bertie, fathered by her guitarist and current partner Danny McIntosh, in 1998. She did not release the news of his birth to the press and it was over two years before the story broke. On the few occasions she has spoken to the press since, she has made it clear that motherhood has made her very happy.
Bush's eighth studio album, Aerial
, was released on double CD and vinyl in November 2005 internationally, following the release of the single "King of the Mountain" in October.
In an interview with Weekend Australian published in December 2005, Bush stated that Aerial
was not meant to be her last work and that she wished to continue writing and recording music.