The Madras College Archive


Former Pupil Biographies

KT Tunstall (1975 - )

Kate "KT" Tunstall (born June 23, 1975) is a Grammy nominated, BRIT Award-winning singer-songwriter from St Andrews, Scotland.

Tunstall was born in Edinburgh, and was subsequently adopted. "KT" is an abbreviation for the initials of her full name, Kate Tunstall. Her adopted father was a physicist, and her adopted mother a school teacher. Tunstall's adoptive family also included older brother named Joe and a younger brother named Daniel.

In her twenties, Tunstall met her birth mother, who told her that her biological father was a folk musician. She spent time performing on the famous Church Street in Burlington, Vermont, and at a commune in rural Vermont. As of 2003, Tunstall is dating Luke Bullen, the drummer in her band. She has indicated her intention to live in Edinburgh with Bullen. KTís birth mother is of Chinese descent and her father, whom she never met, is Irish.

Tunstall studied at the High School of Dundee in Dundee; Madras College in St Andrews; Kent School, Connecticut; and at Royal Holloway. Throughout her twenties she mostly played in independent bands including Elia Drew and Tomoko, and focused on songwriting. Her debut album, Eye to the Telescope, was released in late 2004. Tunstall's style of music varies from folk to pop. In Edinburgh and St Andrews she played in a band called Red Light Stylus who were regarded as one of the better bands to emerge from the limited Fife scene.

Tunstall's first appearance of note was a solo performance of "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" on Later with Jools Holland. The performance was notable as she had only twenty-four hours to prepare after scheduled performer Nas cancelled due to his father's ill health. Her performance caught the eye of many viewers, upstaging more established acts such as The Cure, Embrace, and The Futureheads, and she then went on to top the post-show poll on the website for that episode.

Shortly after the "Later" appearance, Eye to the Telescope was re-released, and shot up the UK charts, eventually peaking at three (on its first release it had entered at seventy-three); it was nominated for the 2005 Mercury Music Prize. It was released in the U.S. on February 7, 2006.
Tunstall released a new acoustic album in 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 co-wrote the song "Under The Moonlight" (in which she sings) with Scottish band Travis for their new album The Boy With No Name, released on May 7, 2007 (see the album's article).
According to her official website, the recording of KT's second album called "Drastic Fantastic" is complete.

Tunstall is known for her live performances in which she combines virtuoso use of a loop pedal with a full four piece backing band. She tours extensively, with plans to return to the road after the release of her next album Drastic Fantastic, which is due for release in September, 2007.
Since her debut appearance on Later with Jools Holland, she has returned to the show to perform "Suddenly I See", "Under the Weather", "Tangled up in Blue" (she performed the same song, as well as "Simple Twist of Fate" and "This Wheel's on Fire" on a BBC 4 Bob Dylan tribute) and an Ella Fitzgerald song ("Ain't Misbehavin'" by Fats Waller) with Jools Holland on piano.

She ended 2005 on Hogmanay by performing at Edinburgh's Concert in the Gardengs alongside Scottish band Texas, being broadcast on BBC Scotland's Hogmanay Live show also. During her concerts, Tunstall uses an AKAI E2 Headrush loop pedal on stage, which she affectionately calls "Wee Bastard".

She performed live in New York's Times Square on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve for New Year's Eve 2006.