Kate Victoria "KT" Tunstall (born 23 June 1975, Edinburgh) is a Scottish singer-songwriter and guitarist from St Andrews, Scotland. She broke into the public eye with a 2004 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.
She has released three studio albums internationally: Eye to the Telescope (2004), Drastic Fantastic (2007) and Tiger Suit (2010).She has released three studio albums internationally: Eye to the Telescope (2004), Drastic Fantastic (2007) and Tiger Suit (2010).
Kate has a half-Chinese, half-Scottish mother and an Irish father. She was 18 days old when she was adopted by an English family in St Andrews, Scotland. Kate never got to meet her biological father. Her adoptive father was employed as a physics lecturer at the University of St Andrews, and her adoptive mother was a school teacher. Tunstall's family also includes an older brother named Joe and a younger brother named Daniel. 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 Andrews, a town in 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 New England at the Kent School, a selective prep school in Kent, Connecticut.
"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, Vermont, and at a commune in rural Vermont. Tunstall studied at Madras College in St Andrews, Kent School in Connecticut, and at Royal Holloway, University of London. She has said: "...My earliest memories are Californian...", attributed to a sabbatical that her father took at UCLA in 1979.
Throughout Tunstall's 20s, 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. KT 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 heard about Tunstall through their scouts and quickly put forward an independent offer. However, Tunstall had decided to sign with a US major, and initially passed up the offer. That deal did not work out and so she eventually decided to go with Relentless.
Although he recognised the potential in the quality of her voice and songs, at this point Relentless co-founder Shabs Jobanputra's assessment was that she "wasn't ready yet" and so together with her 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." After the signing, a lot of time was spent developing certain songs and honing her live performance before she was ready for release.